Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Demystifying attribution: how to optimise your ROI

Data is the new bacon. Marketers have to collect it, understand it and most importantly, use it to make strategic, data-driven decisions.

For marketers to be able to truly optimise the impact of their digital media investments, they have to understand all of the forces that impact brand performance. Attribution allows them to do this by tracking the contribution and value of each marketing touchpoint.

Consolidation 2

This includes all tracked digital marketing data, plus the data from offline marketing efforts. Brands need to look across their paid, owned and earned media to give them a holistic understanding of their entire marketing mix and how consumers are responding to different campaigns.

The starting point for your attribution efforts should be to consolidate all of your data so that you have one single source of truth. Data consolidation is critical to creating a seamless attribution model, otherwise advertisers and agencies have to stitch together multiple tools and technologies. Your ad server is the most logical choice and therefore you need to choose your technology partners very carefully.

By doing this, advertisers are in a great position to create a true cross-channel attribution schema.

Attribution is still in its nascent state

No one has gotten attribution quite ‘right’ yet, and there are many flawed and inaccurate attribution models still being used. We feel that it’s our responsibility to educate the market and address the gaps. In our view, two of the biggest challenges are:

  • Marketing has evolved significantly. Today’s marketers are tech savvy, creative and highly flexible. Brands are leveraging new channels to reach their audiences across multiple devices and screens but they need to understand the impact of these different media and channel investments. They want to determine the value in driving conversions through the entire customer funnel, in order to more effectively optimise marketing spend and efforts.
  • Nascent state of attribution. When it comes to attribution modelling, single-winner event attribution models, such as last-click, predominate in the Australian market. The single-winner model represents a good starting point for marketers who are just getting into attribution because it’s simple and easy to understand, however, this method is inaccurate. It over-crowds lower funnel marketing efforts (typically paid and organic search) and fails to address upper funnel strategies (display ads), which makes them a poor choice for sophisticated marketers.

Many marketers seem to resort to a multi-touch, rules-based approach. These are an improvement when compared to the last event models, because credit is distributed to some extent to every touch point along the marketing funnel.

Unfortunately, these models also have flaws because multi-touch attribution formulas can be arbitrary and unfair. Algorithms tend to be hidden away in a black-box and difficult to explain. Cross-channel data collection is hard and there is a lack of tools or skills available to handle big data problems. The result is that marketers often invest great amounts of time and money in these models but the results are often error prone and flawed.

What to consider when selecting an attribution partner

When attribution is done right, it gives the advertiser a truer value of their media and channel investments. A good attribution solution must be holistic and able to provide true incremental value across all the elements in digital campaigns.

Applying more sophisticated attribution models, like Game Theory, allows marketers to understand how different media channels, placements and creatives contribute to driving conversions on an advertiser’s website. Marketers can significantly increase ROI by optimising their entire media mix, from display to paid and natural search, social, email, affiliate and more – at every stage of the funnel.

Here are some questions to ask your attribution vendor:

  • How many new vendors do you plan to add this year?
  • Are you planning to make new creatives?
  • Do you expect an increase in mobile activity?
  • Will you implement new tactics?
  • Is the vendor able to explain theirattribution methodology?
  • Does it give you a holistic view of all media channels and screens?
  • How quickly can you see results?

Sophisticated attribution solutions give you real-time and meaningful optimisation recommendations so that you know what’s driving the best results and can apply this directly to your media investments.  The result is the holy grail of marketing – the optimised allocation of media, an increase in conversions and a reduction in cost.

About Carolyn Bollaci - VP Global Accounts APAC, Sizmek
Carolyn Bollaci has more than fifteen years’ experience in the digital industry and has spent the last decade as a leader within several of the world’s largest marketing and technology businesses. Carolyn joined MediaMind (before it was Sizmek) as Country Manager in 2009 and led its smooth transition to the new Sizmek brand in 2014, successfully positioning the company at the forefront of technology – as trailblazers and leaders in the ANZ digital market. Carolyn is an active member of the Australian digital community, and as one of the founding members of the IAB Australia AdTech Council, she helps define policies and standards that benefit the greater industry as a whole. Bollaci works closely with leading brands and agencies in the region and is often involved with some of the most innovative digital advertising campaigns across Asia. Prior to Sizmek, Carolyn held senior roles at News Corporation (News Limited and News Digital Media), ninemsn and Microsoft MSN.