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Attribution Is Becoming More of a Priority for Marketers

Attribution is key for marketers looking to optimize media channels in this increasingly fragmented world

August 2, 2016

Marketers have always acknowledged the benefits of accounting for every marketing channel and brand-imposed touchpoint, but in spite of such awareness, adoption of these types of practices has been slow and labored, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Cracking Cross-Device Attribution in 2016: Data Quality, Blended Models and Merging Online-Offline Data” (eMarketer PRO customers only).

Tactics that Occupied vs. Will Occupy Their Time/Resources According to US Digital Marketing/Media Practitioners, 2015 & 2016 (% of respondents)

Many factors have contributed to this slow adoption, including lack of knowledge or experience, an inability to justify an often six-figure price tag for the necessary capabilities and limited prioritization for such services over more pressing marketing needs, such as in social, video, mobile and even programmatic.

“There are always other things to do,” said James Collins, senior vice president and general manager at Rakuten Attribution (formerly DC Storm). “There’s always a logistics and supply chain to improve, there’s a product to improve and a website to replatform. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that will get in your way before attribution may bubble up to the top in terms of priorities. Companies will always have opportunities to spend money on something else.”

Technologies US Senior-Level Agency and Marketing Professionals Are Interested in Learning About in 2016 (% of respondents)

But a shift is occurring, finally pulling attribution into the spotlight when it comes to marketer priorities. Its growing importance is apparent in a January 2016 survey conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Data Center of Excellence and the Winterberry Group. Among US digital marketing and media practitioners polled, cross-channel measurement and attribution were the most-cited tactics expected to occupy respondents’ time and resources in 2016. More important, interest in this practice saw the greatest year-over-year jump of any mentioned tactic.

A February 2016 study conducted by programmatic advertising platform Rocket Fuel also showed widespread interest among US senior-level agency and marketing professionals. More than four in five respondents were interested in learning more about multichannel attribution this year. Such interest was on par with popular advertising technologies such as demand-side platforms (DSPs), programmatic TV and viewability measurement.

US Companies Using Multichannel Attribution Models, 2014-2017

“It’s really all about attribution and closed-loop measurement,” said Jon Schulz, CMO of ad tech firm Viant. “What am I getting? What’s working and what’s not working?”

As interest in answering those questions climbs, so does adoption. eMarketer estimates more than half of US companies with over 100 employees will utilize multichannel attribution for their digital marketing efforts in 2017. Keep in mind this figure only accounts for those using multichannel attribution for digital marketing efforts. As this report will show, many adopting such attribution practices also aim to bring offline channels and touchpoints into the equation.

“At this point in the game, it’s safe to say that every sophisticated marketer understands the challenges inherent with the old way of doing things vis-a-vis last-touch modeling, cookie-based solutions and so forth,” said Ari Buchalter, president of technology at MediaMath, a programmatic advertising solutions provider. “I think we’re onto a stage where everyone agrees on the problem and is trying out a series of solutions, but is running up against the limitations of those solutions and are trying to figure out how to deal with that.”

As Buchalter suggests, making the move to a more holistic attribution model is not a simple two-step process of just selecting and setting up a solution, especially considering that the types of solutions marketers ultimately need and want are still being built.

eMarketer PRO customers can view the full report here.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Cracking Cross-Device Attribution in 2016: Data Quality, Blended Models and Merging Online-Offline Data.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.


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