Attribution - what business are you in?

When talking about targeting customers, there is often some confusion in the role of ‘attribution’ in helping to deliver targeted ads. Attribution is not a way to use customer data to better target customers, but is in fact the way to better understand the contribution of a media channel in the customer journey. So think of attribution not as the way to deliver targeted ads upfront, but as the way to measure the impact of your advertising activity in a proper and accurate way after the delivery of the campaign.

In digital, there has been a historical problem where the last site or app that someone clicked on contributed the most to the customer journey. However, we are moving towards  a recognition that more often many different channels played a part in that customer journey, and that custom attribution models are required to understand this.

The majority of attribution conversations involve digital channels. It is important to understand the problem that we want to solve and define the scope of the work required and the differences between Econometrics, TV attribution and Digital attribution, which frequently crop up in the same conversation.

  1. Econometrics: Regression analysis of factors as broad as competitor action, media, weather to define the relative role of each in delivering a KPI. This will always be a bespoke project and true value is in a 6-12 month refresh cycle.
  2. TV attribution: Software which matches spot to action. Due to the complexity of search paths and lag times they potentially end up over valuing small spots and as a result can deliver very efficient, but growth limiting strategies. Vendors include: TVTY, Wywy, TV Squared, Convertro, Visual IQ.
  3. Digital attribution: Determine the relative role of different digital channels in delivering a response. Vendors include: Abakus, Attribution 360 (formally Adometry), Adobe, Convertro, Visual IQ. 

In summary, different projects, using different vendors will deliver different results, so be very clear what the challenge is and whether the solution is scalable. There are no quick wins and whilst strong client leadership is required to simplify and scope an attribution project, the reality is that it is a complex area which requires expertise, investment of time, and resource. What business are you in and what does your business need?

This article was first published on the IAB website.