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Study: Marketers Renew Interest in Cross-Channel Attribution

But focus on programmatic buying for mature formats slips

When it comes to collecting and evaluating audience data, marketers can choose from a multitude of tactics. Recent research suggests there’s an increased interest in cross-channel measurement and attribution this year, edging ahead of former go-to tactics like general audience analytics and programmatic media buying.

Almost 60% of US digital marketing and media practitioners polled in January 2017 by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group said they expect to be engaged in cross-channel measurement and attribution this year.

Tactics that Occupied vs. Will Occupy Their Time/Resources According to US Digital Marketing/Media Practitioners, 2015-2017 (% of respondents)

But there is a caveat: When IAB and Winterberry conducted the same survey back in January 2016, a little over half of marketers said they expected to spend more time with cross-channel measurement and attribution. Yet, according to the recent data, only a third of those polled actually engaged more effort on cross-channel measurement and attribution in 2016.

For 2017, marketers have predicted similarly, so it isn’t clear that time spent on cross-channel analysis will actually grow in line with marketers’ proposed intentions. It apparently didn’t last year.

That aside, there’s certainly interest in the tactic and it’s justified. Attribution is key for marketers looking to optimize media channels in this increasingly fragmented world.

For instance, the retail industry is taking a more serious stance on cross-channel marketing by incorporating both online and offline tactics, and gaining greater insight into their customer base. About four in 10 retail marketers worldwide said they will implement cross-channel attribution initiatives in 2017, according to a Yes Lifecycle Marketing survey.

While doubling down on cross-channel attribution, the IAB/Winterberry Group survey found there were some tactics that respondents said they’d be spending less energy on. These included general audience analytics, programmatic media buying for more mature markets and predictive modeling.

The decreasing interest in programmatic for established formats is particularly interesting, considering recent news about advertisers boycotting Google over objectionable content near ads. Apparently, marketers want to take a more hands-on approach in deciding where their ads appear and don’t appear.

Danielle Drolet

[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect comparisons of earlier IAB/Winterberry Group data from January 2016.]

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