This week at Napier we are taking a look at the State of Marketing Attribution Report 2017, produced by AdRoll.

AdRoll believes that attribution is the key to understanding the potential and impact of our marketing. When dealing with a range of campaigns, it isn’t always easy to figure out what is and isn’t working in order for you to make the correct decisions regarding your business!  We are no longer living in an industry when last click or first click is giving us the precise answers we need. AdRoll see this as an opportunity for a new system to arise.

 Attribution Put Simply

For those who are unsure here is a simple definition, “In Marketing, Attribution is the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events” or “touchpoints”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events”.

The Current Issue

Businesses currently use a simplistic form of attribution which is delaying their decision making. A more detailed form of gathering data should now be used: last click and first click is becoming more irrelevant. A growing number of companies are making the switch over to custom attribution methods, which we also see as a great move.

The use of custom attribution has  risen from 31% in 2016 to 39% in 2017. Companies implementing custom attribution on all or most of their marketing activities has risen from 31% to 39%, although North America is outdoing the UK with 51% of businesses implementing the strategy. Companies are currently either carrying out multi-channel marketing attribution strategies or ignoring its potential – this is the last thing that we want! We can see there is uncertainty on how to interpret data, but we don’t want this to be what’s stopping companies from moving forward in terms of attribution.

Types of Attribution

The systems of last click and first click are still the most popular, although their use has decreased, with the adoption of a wider range of methods. Both brand and agency respondents report an increase in custom attribution methods. Custom attribution methods are now seen as being the most effective; 48% of respondents agreed.

When companies were asked if they were actually using multi channel attribution, 60% said they did in comparison to 40% in 2016. Agency respondents stated that algorithm-based methods were most effective but difficult to gather for cross channel journeys.

Impact and Benefits of Attribution

From AdRoll’s research,  optimizing media mix was the top goal in 2017. This has overtaken the main priority of 2016, which was understanding the journey and sales cycle. Justifying digital spending was third in line. There is no difference in the list of priorities when comparisons were made between 2016-17. Businesses getting the most out of attribution finally recognize how it is having an impact on their customer contact.

Attribution is said to provide more accountability for marketing, although it is still clear that not all companies are recognizing the positive impact attribution has on building stronger relationships. The respondents stated some of the best outcomes marketing attributions have influenced are, being able to remove activity that doesn’t contribute to customer activity. Having a better view of relative performance on various channels making it possible to relocate any budget to better the campaigns with use of improved resources.

Technology and Effectiveness

Over the years, companies have reduced their confidence in their technology’s ability to support attribution. They have seemingly become more reliant on spreadsheets, vendor technology and custom-built models to carry out attribution. The idea of attribution is to ensure different platforms are able to share relevant data with one another through application programming.

The Challenges of Attribution

One of the biggest issues is the restricted use of marketing attribution due to the lack of knowledge. It is more likely that a business will blame this on the differing data instead of their lack of time. The key to breaking down this barrier is defining the customer journey. This year it has been seen that a more effective use of cross device attribution has undergone, in hope that the right individuals will be employed to take advantage of marketing attribution – although this remains a challenge for many.

A large number of companies blame the lack of technology and too much disparate data. Marketers are struggling to gather the data from different platforms and finding a relevant consistency, there is seen to be a gap in the system somewhere. The report showed that campaign tracking/tagging and statistical modelling were the most frequently selected at 36% and 31%.

Insights to action is the area that was seen as the least biggest issue. Although it is still  a problem area, there are other significant challenges to be dealt with first. It is clear that there are benefits of multi channel attribution, but respondents found it difficult to determine which channel delivers return on investment. 28% of respondents strongly agreed that multi-device behavior has increased focus on attribution.

Where do we go from here?

Well, it is clear attribution is moving forward with more effective models in place. Gathering more information and analyzing the customer journey are key elements to understanding how successful a campaign strategy has been. Ensure that you are using your employees’ knowledge to their full potential and that they fully understand the effects of how successful a new approach can be to gathering data.

To learn more, download the full report here.