Marketers today must keep pace with consumers’ expectations for relevant, coordinated experiences across different channels and touchpoints, making measurement an important part of all campaigns. Multi-touch attribution is one such tool that provides a host of benefits, says, Anne Curtin is the Senior Director of Marketing for Nielsen.
The modern customer journey spans multiple channels, platforms and devices. As marketers race to deliver relevant messages and offers at each interaction, they need reliable measurement solutions to optimize their campaigns. Unfortunately, many marketers still rely on last touch and other siloed measurement approaches to assess the impact of their investments.
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These approaches no longer work because marketers need an actionable understanding of what’s influencing customers across all touchpoints. This is the foundation of multi-touch attribution, a measurement method that allocates credit to the specific marketing tactics that influence customers to convert. Data from multi-touch attribution allows marketers to understand which touches are most effective in driving purchases and other desired actions so they can optimize performance and reduce wasteful spend.
Amid all the noise around multi-touch attribution there are some claims being made about its impact that might not be entirely true. Since marketers have much to gain from adopting this measurement method, we set out to fact check some of the most common claims.
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Claim #1: Multi-touch attribution isn’t cost-effective
According to a recent Nielsen study, 25 percent of media tactics don’t have any impact on generating sales, site visits, leads or other key performance indicators (KPIs). As budgets tighten, marketers can’t afford to leave that money on the table.
Businesses that leverage multi-touch attribution can improve the effectiveness of their marketing investments, and in turn, their impact on the business. Multi-touch attribution gives businesses the data they need to know which marketing and media investments are driving return. It identifies which channels and tactical elements (publishers, placements, keywords, creative messages, etc.) are working—and which aren’t—in near real-time, so marketers can reallocate their spend to higher-performing tactics and make the most of their media investments while campaigns are still in-flight.
Multi-touch attribution also has the ability to forecast performance against various marketing objectives and provide recommendations on how to shift budget to achieve optimal results. While a multi-touch attribution solution does come at a cost, the efficiency gains driven by its near real-time performance insights and forward-looking media planning capabilities offset the upfront investment in the technology.
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Claim #2: Combining multi-touch attribution with marketing mix modeling in a unified model produces better results
Marketers today are seeking a holistic view of the customer journey and marketing performance across traditional marketing budgets and addressable media channels. That’s why many are embracing more advanced approaches like multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling. Some are even trying to combine the two in a push toward unified modeling.
In theory, it sounds like a good idea to combine all your data and models in one place. In reality, collapsing marketing models into unified measurement impacts the accuracy and actionability of the results.
The problem is that marketing mix modeling and multi-touch attribution measure different points in time, using different data and different methodologies. Attempting to combine these variables in a single model creates error. As a result, marketers run the risk of basing decisions on misleading or inaccurate metrics.
Moreover, each approach is designed to answer different business questions. Marketing mix modeling is best used for strategic planning, while multi-touch attribution is better suited for tactical optimization of in-flight campaigns. Marketers should choose the solution that best enables them to answer business questions at the level and speed they need.
Despite the shortcomings of unified modeling, marketers’ need for an integrated view of their marketing performance is as critical as ever. For the most comprehensive view, marketers should consider bringing the strategic and tactical insights produced by each model together. By unifying insight, not models, marketers can get a single view of performance and drill down to the right level of analysis to support any marketing decision.
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Claim #3: Multi-touch attribution is too complex
It’s true that multi-touch attribution is not a plug-and-play solution. Building a complete customer journey can be challenging and the methodology for allocating credit isn’t always easily understood. But the benefits it drives are too large to write off just because last touch metrics are simple to understand and easier to get from ad servers and other free analytics tools.
Multi-touch attribution drives lasting business growth through its speed, accuracy and coverage. It uses cross-channel, person-level data that’s modeled fresh every day, so marketers can base their decisions on what’s happening in real time today, not last week or last month. It doesn’t change a marketer’s role; it just provides more in-depth and accurate information on which to base their decisions.
While multi-touch attribution solutions enable complex, sophisticated analyses, marketers can also start small. Many begin with a pair of channels or a narrowly defined campaign to demonstrate performance, and then use those early successes to build momentum for expansion. Many attribution providers also offer training to help marketers hone their skills and extract maximum value from the solution.
Adopting a new measurement approach isn’t always easy, especially when most people prefer to stick with what’s familiar. It can be even harder when marketers make quick assumptions about how costly attribution is to implement or how difficult to use. But marketers need a more advanced and accurate way to analyze performance if they want to take an active role in driving revenue. Multi-touch attribution offers marketers a clear picture of the real value of their efforts—so long as they see past any false claims.