Advanced techniques for attributing value to digital media channels, based on specific campaign goals and detailed data analysis are replacing simplistic first and last click measures, to become the basis of publisher compensation. Lack of consensus on the “right” new approach, however, is causing confusion in the marketplace. The “Digital Attribution Comes Of Age,” a new commissioned study released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), analyzes the drivers of this shift and reveals several trends that are shaping the practice of digital attribution.
In-depth interviews conducted by Forrester Consulting for the “Digital Attribution Comes Of Age” study revealed that the array of digital marketing touch points, formats, and inventory – compounded by a deluge of reporting data and diverse customer journeys – has contributed to the current interest in the attribution process. Trends seen to directly impact the practice moving forward:
Marketers will increasingly push to compensate publishers based on attribution models: As media buyers become confident in their attribution models, they will more frequently demand that publishers sign on to this compensation structure – or find themselves on the outside of media deals.
Cross-device tracking and measurement will not meaningfully progress without a breakthrough: Fragmentation across channels and devices has been increasing rapidly and demands advancements in tracking marketing performance at the user level.
Social media “walled gardens” will open up for attribution – for their own good: With social media providers under pressure to help marketers target users and to prove the value of those capabilities, it is in their best interest to facilitate the transfer of tracking and performance data to and from attribution systems.
Channel planning will make way for segment planning: As attribution matures, practitioners will concentrate less on optimizing their campaigns and channel mix against episodic but disconnected conversions. They will instead focus on maximizing lifetime value for customer segments, adjusting their efforts against that objective accordingly.
Optimization will become more tightly integrated with media buying and execution: As the industry gets better at attribution and optimization, developing the right checks and balances, many elements of a media plan will likely be executed in a much more automated and efficient way.
“Marketers and advertisers are increasingly challenged by the limitations of the last click attribution model,” said Patrick Dolan, Executive Vice-President and COO, IAB. “In today’s rapidly maturing interactive marketplace, the practice of digital attribution has reached an inflection point, and the industry needs to understand the significant changes that are impacting their businesses. Research like this will help us break through the clutter and provide clarity for the buyers and sellers of interactive media.”
A related Forrester survey of interactive marketers* featured in “Digital Attribution Comes Of Age” took a snapshot of the landscape and finds that 34 percent of respondents currently use a rules-based approach, followed by 30 percent relying on a first or last click method. In addition, 11 percent said that they use algorithmic attribution models. Adding another layer of fragmentation to the attribution process, the survey also revealed that although a range of partners and providers offer attribution services, more than half of companies assign credit to interactive marketing channels, contacts or partners themselves rather than outsourcing that role.
For the “Digital Attribution Comes Of Age,” Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 agencies, service providers, and publishers based in the U.S. to evaluate the state of digital attribution. Participants included individuals in analytical, planning, or revenue supporting roles. The study, commissioned by the IAB in conjunction with AdSafe Media, AT&T AdWorks, ClearSaleing, Quantcast, and SAS, was unveiled on stage at the IAB Advertising Technology Marketplace “Beyond Acronyms and Algorithms…Defining Value in the Marketplace” in New York City.
To clarify the dynamic attribution arena further, IAB also released “The IAB Digital Attribution Primer,” providing an overview of the practice that explains the prevalent attribution models in play, and the distinction between attribution and traditional media mix modeling.
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