One day, you might ask ‘what the hell have path-to-conversion reports ever done for us?’ These reports now exist, are a massive leap forward and are already driving some advertisers to better online marketing plans.

However, given the pace of change and the ease with which we take such advances in our stride, here’s a pre-emptive strike against us ever taking full path-to-conversion reporting for granted.

To make the case, here
are two insights, one for affiliates and one for display campaigns, drawn
from path-to-conversion and attribution reporting that, without them would have
been impossible to derive. In the future, the fact that we didn’t have such
insight at our fingertips will seem astounding.


at attribution reports for a particular client it becomes apparent that the
affiliate program run by a major network is mainly featuring towards the end of
the user journey, often being the last click.

This is partially because ‘direct-to-site’
and ‘SEO’, non-paid channels that might otherwise claim the last click are
set to lower priority in the system, but it still suggests that affiliates are
focusing on the last click rather than initiating the purchase.

This is obviously to be
expected from a very performance-led channel, paid on sales, but this still
prompts the recommendation that the client should review their affiliate base
to ensure that it does not mainly consist of affiliates running a
‘goal-hanging’ strategy.

Recommendation? Request
that the network concentrates on building up the base of content sites and also
look into introducing a bonus or a special commission scheme for affiliates who
assist in driving conversions, rather than just last click.

To do this would
mean passing the affiliate ID into the container tag to plug it in to the
path-to-conversion reports and hence be able to analyse on affiliate level. It
might also be worth reviewing the messaging used in affiliates vs. display,
and potentially using display messaging with a stronger call to action.

The data effectiveness
report shows that the cost per conversion for this channel is attractive
compared with other channels, but you still don’t want to be paying for sales
where the affiliate had little real impact.


The same
client’s data reveals that display campaigns have a very high level of assists
(i.e. display appears in the path to conversion a lot). But, when verified
against attributed conversions (when you take into account all other marketing
events that also appeared in a path to conversion), the picture changes

It becomes apparent that, while display features in the journey very
frequently, the actual impact is questionable.

Looking deeper at the raw
path-to-conversion data, we can see that the display campaigns are continuously
served to the same users, frequently exposing them to an ad more than five
times, and, on occasions, as many as 40 times.

The effectiveness of this advertising
is highly questionable and, by looking at the media effectiveness report, we
can see that the cost per conversion is higher than any other channel.

Recommendation? A
frequency cap on this activity should be introduced to reduce exposing a user
to the same ad. To start with, a frequency cap of 2/3 per user per 24 hours,
but the non-converting data in the data feed should be analyzed, to establish
the optimum frequency cap for this activity.

When we are all taking such data and insight for granted in a few years’ time, it
is important we should remind ourselves that once upon a time we were all making
do with much, much less.