Attribution Modeling: It’s Here, It’s Now And You Need To Embrace It
So, a bold statement: Attribution’s time is here. I’m totally drinking the koolaid, and it’s delicious. Easy for me to say, right? I work with top-tier clients who “get it.” For the most part, they understand the value of planning, budgeting and measuring every marketing touchpoint with specificity and efficiency. That said, I have heard […]
So, a bold statement: Attribution’s time is here. I’m totally drinking the koolaid, and it’s delicious.
Easy for me to say, right? I work with top-tier clients who “get it.” For the most part, they understand the value of planning, budgeting and measuring every marketing touchpoint with specificity and efficiency. That said, I have heard from every angle of the attribution discussion the concerns, hold-ups, negativity and plain ol’ fear. And in the spirit of admitting that a problem exists (and finding some answers) is the first step to recovery, let me break down and address the fears.
From the brand’s point of view: What we have here is the age-old problem with time and money. There’s just never enough of either, especially to a staff that’s probably been cut in half and seen workloads double. If that weren’t enough, attribution reporting comes along and dumps another load of data onto your frayed and frazzled staff.
Furthermore, done right, attribution means additional cost. And once it’s been paid for, there are two more problems: first, the tool needs time to accrue a decent data pool and establish a new starting point. Then, when the data does finally come in, how is a person supposed to use it? Endless Excel sheets with column after column are no good; what’s needed are conclusions and direction.
Valid concerns, without doubt. But attribution is not for the instant gratification crowd – it’s for those who can see the forest for the trees. I’ve seen earth-shattering (or at least preconceived notion-shattering) insights come through great attribution modeling. Funding of channels can be determined by their true contribution to the success of the company, instead of by the fact that the email manager and the CMO are golf buddies. Put succinctly, attribution knows no politics.
From the search engines’ point of view, Search Engine Land columnist David Roth gives us a pretty good impression of the engines’ points of view in which current approaches are flawed, and current data needs to be scrubbed before jumping into attribution. At SMX West, Frederick Vallaeys, AdWords Evangelist at Google said, “We don’t want to do the calculations for you, though. We just want to give you the raw data and let you analyze it.”
As with every other technology, no tool is perfect. But the engines’ response to attribution is most curious. Aren’t they the ones that have been emailing me, calling me, creating presentations for our clients, and generally shouting from the mountaintops about the effect search has on branding, audience building, and revenue generation for I don’t know, ten years? I would assume these guys would jump at the chance to go from anecdotally touting non-brand search to full-on exposure and proof. Ka-ching.
They’re not. With the exception of Google/Doubleclick’s E2C reporting, which might be a good starting point, but is certainly limited in scope, the engines don’t seem to be staking a major claim on this one. Perhaps the knowledge gained from attribution reporting will go against some of those anecdotally proven offerings, or maybe the engines just haven’t yet found a good way to monetize the product. Either way, given the implications attribution could have on budget allocation, I don’t think it’s the last we’ve heard from the big guys hawking keywords and clicks.
From the agencies’ point of view: The biggest hurdle to attribution implementation on the agency side has been disclosure. In partnering with those attribution platforms that can report on every single digital touchpoint (as well as certain offline portions), the scope sometimes goes beyond the channels the digital agency manages.
The thing is, we’ve positioned ourselves from the outset as partners and advocates for our clients. As such, our job is to make them successful even if it means charting a different course than the one we had originally anticipated.
We’re not pushing attribution to make our own work look magically heightened. We are advocating positive change for our clients and encouraging them to take advantage of solutions we feel benefit their business. Given the opportunity to more accurately see the marketing spectrum and that the ultimate cost analysis of the necessary tools is sound, why wouldn’t a marketer want to see it?
The better question is this: Why wouldn’t you?
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.