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September 8, 2014 – Talkin’ ’bout a revolution in attribution.

Last-­click attribution has overstayed its welcome at the digital marketing party. It’s now clear that a shopper’s path to purchase involves a sequence of media touchpoints and that conversions very rarely occur on the first impression, a fact neglected by the last­click model. Giving all credit to the last signpost on the journey implies that all other touchpoints have little impact, but the simple metrics of last click have led the industry to rely on it for far too long.

Consider a potential path to conversion. A consumer on the lookout for shoes to complement a new outfit becomes aware of a footwear brand through an audience­targeted display ad that the brand has purchased through a prospecting ad network. They click through to the brand’s online store and browse, but do not buy. Over the next few days they see several remarketing ads served by a different media partner, which reminds them about the product. Co­incidentally, the consumer then views a rich media ad for the brand on a popular video network and—finally ready to buy—searches for the brand name using a favoured search engine, clicks on a sponsored ad, and makes a purchase.

As with most purchases, there are multiple touchpoints between awareness and acquisition. In this scenario using a last­click model, however, the search engine receives full credit for the conversion when in fact it played a very minor role in the consumer journey. In light of this, it is clear that the last­click approach is inherently flawed—so what is the solution?

Powerful advertising technology incorporating sophisticated attribution methods enable marketers to gain greater visibility over every strategy and media partner within the conversion pathway. This includes high­funnel tactics designed to drive brand awareness and consideration, as well as strategies focussed on the bottom of the funnel, such as remarketing.

Here are four key benefits that brands can gain from a more sophisticated approach to attribution:

Increased pathway visibility

Advanced attribution models allow marketers to accurately define the shopping pathway that led to a final purchase. Marketers are able to see and understand which media strategies and partners serve impressions to the same consumer, working together to drive them along the path to purchase. Marketers also have the ability to understand the impact that every touchpoint had on a consumer and their subsequent behaviour as a result of these interactions.

Identification of strategies to replenish the consumer pool

Remarketing campaigns deliver high conversion rates and, as a result, are credited with having the most impact on the final conversion. The remarketing pool, however, needs to be continually replenished to allow remarketing methods to perform efficiently, and attribution allows marketers to identify strategies that introduce new incremental consumers into the top of the sales funnel, rather than simply remarketing to the same consumer group over and over.

Quantification of individual touchpoints

When marketers understand the factors that move consumers along the conversion path, they know where best to invest their budgets. A sophisticated attribution solution can quantify the fractional credit that each touchpoint in the journey deserves, dependent on its impact on the final purchase decision. It can also define the value of touchpoints that increase brand awareness and consumer engagement, as well as those that lead directly to sales.

Closed­-loop decision making

One of the biggest benefits of an attribution solution can be gained when it provides a closed­-loop approach, using data from the purchase path for real­-time decision making and media buying. A sophisticated attribution system can determine the value of a particular impression to a brand—based on its role in the conversion path—and can decide whether to bid on that impression, as well as how much to bid.

By leveraging the power of sophisticated attribution models, brands can use data to optimise marketing at every stage of the consumer journey. This approach also identifies opportunities in a campaign and spend can be allocated to strategies that make a quantifiable contribution to final conversions, at every level of the sales funnel. The time has come for a revolution in attribution.