Industry Trend: Higher Expectations As Marketing Attribution Matures.

As with any service, technology, or combination of both, the expectations of the marketplace grow more sophisticated as the industry matures.  Such has been the case in the marketing attribution space over the last 12 months, as brands, agencies, executives, media buyers and marketing analysts have all undergone an education from vendors, analyst firms and other thought leaders in the space.

The “Old Days”

Just 12-18 months ago, marketers expected marketing attribution solutions to provide them with directional insights – mostly in the form of reports –on which channels, campaigns and tactics were contributing most to their success metrics in a multichannel environment. They were glad to have specific tactics identified as their top “introducers,” “advancers” and “closers” within their “attribution funnel,” as such insights ensured they would not blindly reduce their spend on tactics that were, for example, very productive introducers just because they weren’t effective as closers when judged by last-click methodologies.

Attribution expectations circa 2011-2012 were also heavily focused on “path-to-purchase” analysis – with marketers uncovering the top five or ten combinations of marketing touches that contributed to their desired conversions

More, More, More

Fast-forward to today.  Brands and their agency partners are now asking for more: more translation of insights into actual media-spend recommendations.  More facilitation of marketers’ daily tasks.  And more detailed attribution for specific audience segments.

Media Spend Recommendations

Sometimes driven by a lack of in-house analytical support, and often driven by a desire for speed and simplification, marketers are increasingly demanding that attribution solutions go a step beyond displaying findings and delivering reports reflecting past performance.  Instead, they require that these insights be translated into forward-looking media spend recommendations using sophisticated predictive analytics, so they need do nothing more than push a button to have optimized media plans across multiple channels produced – which, when put into market will take advantage of cross tactic impact.  And to get there, they want to be able to safely explore an unlimited number of media spending combinations in “pre-launch” mode, using their goals for overall cost, CPA or conversions as variables in “what-if?” scenario exploration exercises.

Facilitate Media Buying & Optimization

In addition to the demand for actual media buying recommendations referenced above, marketers are requiring that attribution solutions accommodate the real-world optimization constraints they face.  Be those limits in available display/search inventory, pre-contracted media buys that can’t be changed, or internal resource limitations to how many changes can be executed, attribution isn’t valuable if it simply points to theoretical optimization tactics – it has to present executable recommendations. 

And once those truly actionable recommendations have been identified, marketers are no longer satisfied by the ability to hand media buying recommendations to their media buyers, or to translate them into whatever campaign management platform they’re using.  They now want to be able to deploy those recommendations into market by a push of a button that will send a feed to their demand side platform (DSP), real time bidding (RTB) or other buying platform that will automatically execute their optimized buys without the delay and exposure to human error that comes with manual execution.

Tailored Optimization By Segment

Finally, it’s no longer acceptable to deliver a shared set of attribution findings across the entire universe of prospects to which brands and their agencies target their efforts.  Increasingly, marketing attribution must be performed at the audience segment level to be deemed accurate.  Identifying the combination of channels, campaigns and tactics that are most effective at producing conversions for each segment, optimizing to maximize the number of conversions produced by brands’ most profitable segments, and targeting limited budgets to the audience segments with the highest propensity to convert are all strategies that attribution is now expected to enable.

The demands of the marketplace will continue to drive innovation within the marketing attribution space.  Today’s requirements are just stepping-stones to a more efficient media buying future, and will soon give way to even more cutting-edge functionality that further empowers marketers’ multichannel efforts.

by Anto Chittilappilly
Anto Chittilappilly is Co-Founder, President & CTO of Visual IQ, a cross-channel marketing intelligence software company that provides attribution management insights and recommendations needed to successfully optimize campaigns and deliver maximum ROI for organizations’ entire marketing mix.
Courtesy of MediaPost.

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