Advertising performance measurement has never been a simple process, but cross-platform consumer media usage, mobile, and advanced targeting technologies have made the process of linking ad engagement to a consumer purchase action even more challenging. Responding to this increased complexity (and frankly, guessing game), companies like JiWire, PlaceIQ and others have recently unrolled sophisticated digital attribution offerings to connect specific engagement points for a more complete attribution picture. The next generation of proper attribution has become essential — the “new black”, if you will — for the ad tech industry and marketers looking to make ROI-driven advertising decisions.
More Data = Better Accuracy?
Along with the ability to follow consumers through granular points along their purchase decision cycle has come access to significantly more background knowledge about consumers, ranging from information like demographics, geographic location and more. Marketers also have more data on which media consumers are using. For example, a mobile travel searcher may access the TripAdvisor app on a mobile device for initial vacation research and reviews and then visit a specific hotel’s website on a tablet or PC to view information on a larger screen before booking a reservation.
While this expanded breadth of knowledge on consumer background and buying behaviors is helpful in serving up targeted ads, it also requires proper attribution methods to prove which overall sources and segments of overall campaigns are helping drive conversions. For example, did paid search dedicated landing pages yield better results than a particular display ad campaign? This type of results comparison requires following consumers through each relevant engagement point of their purchase decisions. If done correctly, marketers can effectively use attribution to improve their campaigns by investing ad dollars in the channels that consistently deliver the most targeted leads.
Who Gets the Credit?
Another reason that attribution is heating up is that some organizations want to show that they are driving leads directly from their own apps or websites while others are using agencies and other third-party services to manage lead generation. For the latter, these organizations are motivated to prove their value as a key lead source. All parties must remember that relevant engagement points vary by category, so painting the attribution picture is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Each company’s attribution model must be tailored to demonstrate which individual properties, agencies and digital media buying platforms are delivering the intended results.
How Has Mobile Changed the Attribution Game?
It is no surprise that meaningful attribution benchmarks are different on mobile than those employed in traditional and even online media. For one, mobile reflects the immediacy factor as smartphone and tablet users tend to conduct searches in preparation for a near-term purchase with local businesses close by. Additionally, by serving as an action-based platform catering to local needs, mobile has redefined which engagement points really matter for attribution – those that act as purchase indicators along the mobile customer purchase journey. For example, marketers should pay close attention to when mobile consumers access phone numbers and place calls as well as view business addresses, promotions, reviews, maps and driving directions, as these are positive buying signals for some categories and indicate a near-term purchase.
They should also go beyond simply measuring the first and last clicks as the entire spectrum of consumer engagement activities are critical for indicating ultimate purchase decisions. Lastly, with geo-targeting and indoor location technologies available, businesses can measure which location-driven campaigns are driving mobile customers into local stores. This helps close the online-offline attribution gap, as many mobile ads influence offline purchases.
Ultimately, the value of attribution lies in gathering a complete picture of all meaningful activity conducted along the consumer path to purchase. This holistic knowledge base is key to determining accurate ROI for each piece of the expanded attribution pie and thus, helping marketers make every ad dollar count.
Bill Dinan is president of Telmetrics, a provider of call measurement solutions. He joined the company in 1998. Since that time, Dinan has lead Telmetrics’ evolution from print-centric tools to multi-media, leads-based measurement solutions and was appointed president in May 2009. He can be reached at email@example.com.