Therefore marketing attribution is integral in determining the role that any given channel plays in informing and influencing the customer journey.

One of the 35 roundtables at Digital Cream this year was on this very topic and a full Trends Briefing on Marketing Attribution sponsored by Rakuten Attribution is available free to download for all registered users.

For anyone who has not attended an Econsultancy Digital Cream event before, it consists of three sessions of roundtables on a variety of topics, attended by marketers and ecommerce heads who share insight and issues on the topics they’re interested in.

Here is a brief overview of some of the key trends that emerged during the discussions on Attribution.

Joining up digital and offline channels

If your attribution model doesn’t include all your touchpoints then you’re not seeing the whole picture.

Many of our delegates asked how offline channels like print, TV and direct mail can fit into an attribution model? These can be integrated using online behaviour. For instance when it comes to TV advertising, you only need to look at traffic to your site for a period of time after a TV ad and compare it to last week’s traffic at the same time. That way you’ll see if you’re ad has worked or not.

Outdoor ads can be optimised using the geographical data of your online audience. When it comes to store visits, these are less easy to attribute as it’s more difficult to acquire an email address or other personal details in-store, but loyalty cards can solve this, helping stores become an accurately recorded part of the customer journey.

Working with an agency

Integrating and managing attribution often takes skills that aren’t necessarily found in the business.

Getting agencies involved can help you look at the business from an outside perspective, whilst you build a more solid business case.

However, third-party solutions can come with their own vested interests. It is, after all, in their best interests to look like they’re providing positive results, especially if they are earning more commission when you invest in particular types of media.

Some delegates talked about the dangers of media agencies owning attribution, because there was a danger that they could be ‘marking their own homework’. Attribution needs to be completely channel neutral.

That being said however, third parties don’t have a political connection to your organisation, so they are freer to say what they like, and have no emotional connection to people within the organisation whose channels they operate need scaling down.

The use of data

Organisations will benefit from attribution only if they are actually able to do something with the data. The challenge is now less about collecting the data and more about doing the analysis and knowing what questions to ask.

Data can either be empowering; used to bolster a gut feeling, or it can be transformative, by revealing what is or isn’t working. It’s important however not to let data confirm your bias, which is why an objective view of data can be necessary.

Data also helps justify spend in digital, but the challenge is in overlaying your data on top of an understanding of the customer. It’s this that will help you segment your audience more effectively.

For more insight, download the free report: Marketing Attribution Trends Briefing: Digital Cream London 2015