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Econsultancy's first Marketing Attribution Management Buyer's Guide looks in detail at this fast-growing market, with profiles of the leading players and tips for those looking for a supplier.
Here, we outline five of the most important considerations for those looking for an attribution vendor.
Does the vendor offer a 'full-funnel' approach to attribution?
Some attribution tools only enable marketers to analyse clicks, without factoring in the value of display advertising which may have influenced engagement without necessarily leading to a click.
This ignores the importance of impression-level data to get a fuller view of digital engagement. Steve Latham, Founder and CEO of Encore Media Metrics, has written a very good post about the need for full-funnel attribution here.
Full-funnel attribution is a complex business, not least because of the need to allocate value sensibly to display ads which haven't necessarily resulted in a click. How prominent was the advert in question? Was it below the fold or above? How long ago was the page view? Your vendor needs to take these and other factors into account.
For some brands, looking only at clicks may be enough to register significant improvements in marketing performance. But those looking for a more sophisticated approach should look beyond this.
Another consideration is whether attribution platforms are able to look at the offline picture as well, a point well made by Lynchpin MD Andrew Hood.
The integrated approach is really important. There is a lot of attribution modelling being done in silos (e.g. paid media only) that misses the bigger picture of how it relates to other channels. There's no point in having a sophisticated model that ignores half of the customer journey.
Does data output include actionable insights and recommendations?
Most businesses are drowning in enough data without the need for more 'so what' information which isn't accompanied by some actionable insight. As a buyer, you are interested in recommendations which can be implemented to help optimise your media mix and spending.
Marketers need to be able to analyse the contribution of different channels (including paid-for and earned media) during the visitor journey, using this information to make better informed decisions about where they should be increasing and decreasing their budgets or focus.
According to Gabe Bevilacqua, Director of Product Management at Microsoft:
Look for solutions that make attribution modelling immediately actionable rather than solutions that simply tell you what happened.
Do you want a specialist attribution vendor?
As described in my blog post last week, various types of vendor are staking a claim on the attribution space. Tying in with the first consideration outlined above, buyers need to be confident that the vendor is offering an integrated picture without viewing the digital media landscape through the lens of one particular channel.
Our buyer's guide contains an explanation about the attribution philosophy and methodology of 18 different vendors, and a matrix which shows which data sources are core to their products and which types of data can be integrated.
Some vendors may be charging a commission based on media spend which may raise questions about their neutrality when judging the effectiveness of channels. According to Tagman CMO and Co-Founder Chris Brinkworth:
The entire point of attribution is to reveal the true value of all channels to client advertisers and award credit and commission accordingly. If any provider has a vested interest in any one of those channels, or in selling additional services, you should leave them alone because they just won't be motivated to give you the whole picture.
Can your supplier help you understand the value of social media?
Understanding the true value of social media is something which a lot of people are writing about, but few businesses have actually got to grips with. Attribution technology can play an important role in understanding where social media marketing fits within the bigger picture.
Morris Martin, Director of Product Marketing and Strategy at ClearSaleing, said:
The measurement, profit attributed to and resulting impact of social media is an important trend among marketers today. To date, advertisers have moved quickly to build a social presence, however the lack of insight into social media's role in the consumer sales funnel has been a hindrance to scale.
We have begun to empower advertisers with this insight and I would expect additional attribution vendors to mirror these efforts.
Who is going to implement your attribution technology so you can get maximum value?
As with many types of technology, its effectiveness and ability to deliver return on investment will often depend on how well the technology is implemented. It is typically in the vendors' interest to help their clients get maximum value from their tools, but agencies and consultancies (as well as internal business analysts) can play an important role here.
According to John D’Arcy of Foviance:
You should remember that any solution will only be as good as its implementation. So your consultancy needs to have not only deep technology and analytics skills but must also be able to work with your media agency to help deliver a solution that can be acted on.
Attribution goes to the heart of marketing strategy, so it is important that vendors and consultancies are sufficiently experienced to make sure they can help your business implement an attribution modelling framework which is right for your business. Choosing the wrong technology or agency could be an expensive mistake.