New research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Winterberry Group sheds an interesting light on marketers’ preferred tactics and technologies. One of the most dramatic revelations is the steep rise in investment in cross-channel measurement and attribution. Just one-third of survey respondents said that these tactics occupied their time in 2016, but almost double that — 57 percent — of marketers expect them to be a focus in 2017.
This proof point is validating for those of us in the attribution space, but it’s not surprising. We all know intuitively from our own habits that we operate in a multichannel world. Consumers are browsing, researching and purchasing on more numerous and diverse devices than ever before. It makes sense that marketers are looking for tools to keep up. The survey’s other headlining statistic, the decrease in focus on programmatic, isn't surprising either. In light of the current boycott against Google, plus the need for more holistic marketing measurement, siloed, hands-off tactics no longer cut it.
What the IAB/Winterberry research doesn’t reveal are the implications of growing investment in attribution. The concept of measuring every event across every device is compelling, but the reality quickly gets overwhelming. All those devices and all those touchpoints translate to a tremendous amount of data. How can marketers realistically wrangle all that big data in a way that’s actionable, time sensitive, insightful and, most importantly, aligned to business goals?
Short answer: It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. How do you get there? A successful marketing measurement initiative requires three main things:
1. Organizational Alignment:
Attribution takes time, money and cross-functional collaboration to function at its best, so it cannot be a pet project. Before launching an attribution program, it’s critical to get key stakeholders on board. These include an executive sponsor (often the CMO); cross-functional champions like marketing channel owners, data technologists and business analysts; and a dedicated project manager. Every member of the team should agree to — and understand — the business objectives behind the project.
2. Data Governance:
When it comes to data, the old adage is true: garbage in, garbage out. If your data is a mess, your attribution results will be, too. Data governance often happens in the form of a clearly defined taxonomy and consistently applied naming conventions. This must happen internally; if you rely on ad servers and media platforms, you won't get the level of granularity that you need to make the most of your attribution program. Getting your data house in order allows attribution to act as the centralized analytics layer across your marketing stack for a unified view of how all the pieces work together.
3. The Right Tools:
All attribution solutions aren't created equal, and the right one for your organization depends on the level and type of insights that you need. Traditional marketing mix models may be best for businesses looking to answer strategic questions with significant offline investments, while multitouch attribution solutions provide the granularity required if you invest heavily in digital channels. A unified cross-channel approach offers the best of both these worlds and can address all questions for the CMO organization, strategic and tactical.
With these pieces in place, you can transform mountains of data into tangible return on investment. This three-legged stool sets you up for success today and in the future, as new channels like IoT come online and data gets even bigger. The 30 percent of marketers who are implementing attribution for the first time will discover that multichannel measurement is complex, but with the right foundation, it’s also incredibly impactful.
Brian Baumgart is the CEO of Conversion Logic, a company which provides actionable attribution insights for performance and brand marketers.