Media attribution is the art and science of determining which marketing efforts are driving consumer behavior that results in online and offline traffic, lead capture and actual sales. Of course, in the pre-internet days, marketers had the ability to allocate unique toll-free numbers to different advertisements and the corresponding media they were running in or on, so there was precision in knowing how effective any given airing or listing was. There was effectively a direct cause and effect — call it a straight line — that could be drawn between an ad and its corresponding response. Enter digital marketing and smartphones and now consumers can interact with marketers when, how and where they like.
This is what many now refer to as the “consumer journey,” whereby a consumer engages in one or more touchpoints that may consist of the traditional interruptive model — say, a TV commercial, for instance, that captures a prospect’s imagination and spurs a desire to learn more. Or the touchpoint might be more participative in nature, whereby prospects proactively seek out information about a product or service on, for example, their mobile phone. This path is often non-linear and the exact opposite of a straight line and is why, amid today’s omni-channel retail world, media attribution has become so complex.
In a survey conducted last year by the DMA and Demand Metric, only 13% of marketers reported using advanced attribution for their marketing efforts. This, despite nearly half of marketers indicating that marketing attribution it is a high priority in another 2017 poll conducted by eMarketer.
I recently sat down with Peter Koeppel, president and founder of Koeppel Direct, along with Gail King, vice president, Sales at Marketing Evolution, and Dany Sfeir, president & CMO of Catapul1 — all industry experts at effective media attribution — to discuss some of the ways they are creating accountability for direct marketing campaigns. The trio will be collaborating together on a panel to take place at the MTC Expo (more details appear at the end of this blog). Here are four takeaways:
Each Campaign Requires Its Own Approach:
Every business has its own unique metrics and tracking capabilities, and each requires some level of customized measurement to ensure the greatest level of accuracy. “There is no one, cookie-cutter approach to measuring attribution,” Koeppel explains. “It’s really about identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will define success. For example, one campaign might have online lead capture as its number one priority, while another is focused on driving brick-and-mortar retail traffic. Too many agencies have a tendency to gravitate toward what their core competency is. So, for example, a DRTV shop might think that television advertising is the answer for every situation, when a well-rounded digital campaign may be the best way to meet and exceed the marketer’s goals. We can often gather actionable insight for less money using digital before we rely on broadcast, but we only prescribe an approach once we’ve understood precisely what an individual campaign is trying to achieve.”
According to King, billions of dollars are being mis-attributed due to flaws in attribution modeling. Too often, multi-touch attribution vendors are giving too much credit to lower funnel and cheap inventory and not enough credit to longer-term brand building and certain types of premium inventory. “Most attribution models report results after the campaign is over, chasing lagging indicators such as sales,” King remarks. “Those who want to optimize marketing need a leading indicator model.” King advises that once those leading indicators are identified — say, for example, driving unique visitors to a website, the business of attribution is about measuring the impact of a given advertisement. “Too often it is the last touch that receives ‘credit’ for the sale, but it might be the marketing efforts that are feeding the top of the sales funnel that are having the greatest impact on a campaign.”
Keep Your Eye on the Overall Picture:
Sfeir explains that while it is important to measure the effectiveness of individual ads and their corresponding response in order to determine how much money you should allocate to each medium, “it is important to look at the results holistically, too. You have to view it from an omni-channel investment perspective. For example, is your overall cost-per-order target being met?” Given the complexity of today’s marketing ecosystem, where, for example, social media influencers and social proof can be a tipping point, it isn’t always possible to measure every action with finite precision. “You have to test different kinds of media mix to determine what works. For example, I work with a retailer in a category where the competition spends heavily on TV advertising during certain holidays. We shift our dollars to SEO and SEM and avoid TV advertising during those periods. Why? Because when those competitor’s TV ads drive category traffic online, we capture a disproportionate number of those shoppers, and see a corresponding lift in sales at our brick-and-mortar stores.”
Results Are Dynamic, Therefore, the Optimization Cycle Should Be Too:
According to Koeppel, “Consumer behavior is dynamic and can be affected by a multitude of variables. For instance, your competition might ramp up their media spending, or there could be a public relations disaster for an advertiser or their competitor. A series of positive or negative reviews could have a discernible impact on results. That’s why you have to not only measure attribution, but the impact that each set of tactics is having at any given time in relation to the entire world the advertiser occupies, so that modifications can be made that help fine tune and optimize results based upon the situation. This is a process that is dynamic and is never fixed; it depends upon careful, real-time analysis and vigilance to ensure that the marketing is taking advantage of shifts in consumer behavior and attitudes.”
Want to learn more? These attribution experts will be speaking at the aforementioned panel, on Thursday, April 26, at the MTC Expo, in San Diego.
Pictured above from left to right: Peter Koeppel, Gail King, and Dany Sfeir
Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.