Video: What's the Deal With Attribution Anyway?

When 70 - 75% of touches on average come through just one channel, how much impact can tweaking your attribution model have on allocating marketing dollars?

Attribution modeling, even with our own proprietary system, has some real issues associated with it such as coming to meaningful and actionable changes and getting institutional buy-in to change the current model.

Watch as we explore this topic.

George Michie: Hi. I'm George Michie. Today, I want to talk a little bit about attribution. Attribution is one of the really hot topics in marketing. Everybody is interested in figuring out what marketing channels are driving what behaviors. Everybody is afraid that their view of what's working for them or what isn't working for them is skewed by the fact that people are interacting with multiple marketing channels, and you may only be giving credit to the last one for conversion events on your site. So people are worried that they're spending money on the wrong stuff and giving too much credit to some channels and not enough to another.

We've been in the attribution business since 2009. We built our own proprietary system for doing this. The way we've talked to clients about attribution has changed, based on our experience.

One of the things that we have found is having conversations with folks about different complex statistical modeling approaches to get a better answer to attribution is a lot of fun, but it throws out the hardest problem first. What we're finding with a lot of folks, in the e-commerce space particularly, is there's much less interaction between advertising channels than you might think. For our average advertiser something like 70% to 75% of the touches come through only 1 channel, which means when you talk about attribution, you're really just talking about that other 20% to 30% that isn't coming through on just 1 channel. So changing the attribution for that smaller chunk doesn't change your view of what's working by as much as a lot of people expect it to.

Moreover, there's a problem, we find, with getting institutional will to actually change how you view attribution. Your numbers and your goals for the year are tied to your current way of looking at the numbers. If you change the way you look at the numbers in a way that materially affects the result, all of a sudden the year-over-year metrics start looking different. They either look great, because you're getting credit for more orders than you used to, or it looks awful and the boss screams at you. So there are all kinds of trouble getting folks to have the will to actually make a change.

There are also limits to what you can change, and this is the last point that I want to make today. If you found that organic search traffic is either driving more business or less business than you currently think it is, aren't you still going to optimize your site to get as much as you can? You know, it doesn't actually tell you to do anything differently. Email is the same way. Email is so cheap, that whether it's over credited or under credited, you're still going to send emails, probably at the same rate you're currently doing. Display advertising, yes, display can be under credited if you're only looking at the last touch. But you can already do public service announcement control tests with display advertising to find out what the incremental lift is.

So what levers do you actually have to act differently, based on attribution? You may find that these levers are fewer than you think.

RKG has been in the attribution business for a while. We like to help our clients understand this and remove the impediment that attribution can often be to acting. People are afraid to make changes because they are afraid they're not seeing the whole picture. We can help them understand what that picture might look like under different scenarios.

So, I hope you enjoyed this and will watch more of our video series. Thanks.

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