Digital Marketing: A Closer Look At Attribution Modeling

Once rather simple and straightforward, the multichannel path to purchase has gotten increasingly complicated and circuitous in recent years.

Today’s consumer is bombarded by a massive number of both traditional and digital marketing messages – with everything from print ads and television commercials to display ads, search, email, mobile, social media and other forms of media helping cajole and compel purchasing decisions.

As more and more commerce behavior has moved online and onto mobile, this is a trend that only figures to continue. And the typical consumer’s purchase path is likely to get even more tangled, winding and confusing in the years to come.

It’s enough to drive any marketer mad. Especially one used to easily obtained and analyzed data. Not to mention easily followed and influenced consumers. And according to a recent report by eMarketer, retailers are increasingly turning to complex multichannel attribution modeling in order to assign value to touchpoints and better understand which channels work best.

Powered by Big Data solutions, these advanced forms of marketing attribution seek to look much deeper than a customer’s “last click” when measuring the performance of various marketing efforts and discovering just what is best driving sales and conversions.

The big vision here is to fully understand every single touchpoint that influences a consumer along the path to purchase. To this end, attribution solutions vendors are working to incorporate mobile data and offline ads into their engines – along with complementing their media-centric data with external data sets that provide deeper insights into customer behavior and intent.

And it sure sounds like these venders are going to have a fertile market in which to sell their services.

An October 2012 survey conducted by Econsultancy and  Adobe discovered that just 26% of companies worldwide utilized advanced forms of marketing attribution, but a January 2013 survey by MarketingSherpa found that 28% of global marketers indicated that measuring attribution across channels is an important analytic objective in 2013.

Here at Amplitude Digital, we believe that attribution modeling is indeed important. But we also believe it’s something that can get overanalyzed and overemphasized quite easily.

Truth be told, just knowing which of the various media that you’re using are driving traffic, sales and conversation in any combination is enough to make a decision on whether something should stay or go. There’s often no need to get granular or really dive into the depths of data.

Of course, there are always going to be those who cry, “more, more, more!”

In this case, they want to know exactly how much a particular form of media is contributing to a sale. They want to know if they should crank up one channel more because it was helping more, or cut one out because it wasn’t really converting.

But with all the modern, high-tech tools now at marketers’ disposal, this question can already be asked and answered in other ways. If one was to look at the spread of media that influences sales regularly, via Google Analytics, for example – where this information is available even in the free version – you could easily download their attribution charts and use them to create a media allocation chart.

A chart that just might be the smartest decision you’ve made in years.

What do YOU think about this rising trend in attribution modeling? Is it necessary? Overhyped? Somewhere in between? Let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below this blog post.

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