How are Marketers Organizing Their Data to Facilitate Attribution?

Cross-platform attribution is the process of allocating credit to a market driven interaction or brand touch-point. No one can doubt the importance of attribution to marketers but when it comes to pursuing and implementation, majority of us fall short. This was according to the recent eMarketer report dubbed “Cross-Platform Attribution 2015: Device Identification, Big Data Pose Continued Challenges.”

What are Marketers Doing?

It is important to note that marketers are always looking for ways to instill a real-time optimization approach especially to some of their traditional media. One of the biggest trend is actually making the traditional offline media actionable, especially the Television. The practice for most marketers for increasing market penetration is that they identify the effects of the TV ads in about 2-3 weeks and then backup with actionable media plans meant to optimize or adjust efforts as needed. These optimizations are usually tested through spot buys to tell the client whether to favor digital media channels or add investment in favor of additional TV coverage. The importance of attribution and optimizing all actions using the in-store purchases data is notable to many marketers. However, most digital channel optimization are done in digital specific measures such as clicks and conversions.

Attribution in The Age of Big Data

Attribution analysis has turned out to be difficult in the age of multichannel customers, proliferating media and Big Data. Practically, it is difficult to tell which media was responsible for generating an action when customers read an email ad, received a direct mail, visited a microsite, liked a Facebook page of  translating website content  or clicked a sponsored link. Big Data for marketers is the massive accumulation of data for organizations when they engage and market to their customers while prospecting across the ever increasing number of channels. But Big Data is viewed as a problem, not an opportunity per se. Collecting data is good, but what marketers are doing with it is what matters.

A study by Columbia Business School and American Marketing Association dubbed “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data.“, focused on 253 corporate marketing decision-makers and the results were surprising. According to the report, 91% of senior corporate marketers believe customer data is vital in making marketing decisions but 39% of those admitted they were unable to use the data to actionable insights. 65% of marketers admitted it was also a challenge to compare effectiveness of the different digital media on their business. 57% of the marketers said that they were not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis and 22% are using brand awareness as the only measure to the value of marketing budgets.

Models for Organizing Big Data to Facilitate Attribution

There are various models marketers could use to ensure Big Data is used to facilitate attribution. However, each has advantage and disadvantage.

First-click attribution – this model credits the marketing channel where the customer first engaged with the firm. The model is advantageous because it tracks where the customer's journey began. Disadvantage is that, the marketing environment of today is run in silos which is the reason it is quite difficult to track a single customer in a multichannel manner.

Last-click attribution – credits the marketing channel where customer last clicked. Advantage is the easiness to track but it also disregards how the customer's prospects led him/her to the last channel.

Equal-weighting attribution – it means tracking all customers' touch-points where they engaged with the firm and gives them equal weight in terms of generating conversion. It takes a holistic view of the customer but disregards the disproportionate role of some channels over others.

Custom-credit attribution – it's a hybrid model based on the marketing strategy of the firm and customer base among other factors. It can be highly effective when done right since it is designed based on facts in the market. However, the hardest part is to create and test it for first time.

Marketers are increasingly relying on attribution to understand the customers better. No marketer want to continue relying on building media plans to justify the budget for it. Most of them want to act based on cross platform attribution findings collected from Big Data analysis.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Steve Tron

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy living, food storage techniques, and self reliance. 

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