Attribution Rules at SMX West 2018

March 21, 2018

Over 1,000 digital marketers braved the torrential rain and weather delays to attend SMX West 2018 in the San Jose Convention Center from March 13-15. Despite a wide-ranging agenda that included artificial intelligence and voice search, the emphasis of this year’s show fell squarely on marketing attribution.

Scoring Points with Attribution

We all know that attribution is a complex topic that frustrates many advertisers. It’s hardly surprising that all the competing attribution models—such as first-touch, last-click non-direct, linear, time-decayed—leave some advertisers dazed and confused.

Google’s session at SMX West promised an “Inside Look at Attribution” using a clever soccer analogy for capturing all touch points along the customer journey. In soccer terms, you can consider last-click attribution as the equivalent of giving 100% credit to the striker who scores a goal—and I know a few strikers who would happily take all the glory! Last-click gives an incomplete picture of the path to success, as it’s designed to ignore the defender who won the ball, the midfielders who played it forward, and the winger who crossed it for the assist.

The Value of Assisted Conversions

Although many advertisers still use it today, last-click attribution discards much of the creativity (and credit) from the goal-scoring process. The Google team shared statistics showing that most retailers see four clicks along the customer journey prior to a purchase. Using a last-click model inherently ignores 75% of the influence by discarding the first three clicks in each consumer’s path to purchase. Put simply, you’ll never get an accurate Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) if your model ditches three-quarters of the data you should be using to measure a conversion.

Placing this into the context of a modern marketing campaign: it may be a thought leadership webinar that gets a prospect to take a discovery call, but you can’t discount the benchmark report that prospect downloaded earlier in the year, or the newsletter that contained a relevant customer success story, or the email campaign that generated a website visit. The point that Google and others made is that data-driven attribution is the only way to track all of those meaningful interactions that happen along the customer journey to conversion.

Mobile’s Place in the Customer Journey

It’s also notable that mobile activity tends to take place earlier in the customer journey when buyers are researching a purchase or doing some digital window shopping. Although mobile accounts for a growing volume of transactions, many consumers still feel more comfortable completing their purchases on a computer or in-store. As a result, mobile influence is easily discarded by last-click, and it’s important influence on the buyer’s journey is often overlooked by less sophisticated attribution models.

Dig Deeper into Attribution

If you’re interested in learning more about attribution, join Marin Software and Facebook for a live, 60-minute webinar on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 10 am PST / 1pm EST. This event will explore the myths and realities of cross-channel attribution, offering a clear picture of your conversion efforts across channels and devices. You’ll learn:

  • How to map the full customer journey
  • The pros and cons of modern attribution models
  • The real value of views, clicks, and conversions
  • Exploring cross-channel attribution with Marin TruePath

We’ll answer any attribution questions you have and demystify the various models. Hope you can join us.

Brian Finnerty

Marin Software
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