A century and a half ago, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific railroad companies linked up in Utah to create the First Transcontinental Railroad, ushering in a new era of commercial expansion for the US. The achievement is celebrated in the history books as a feat of industrial cooperation, but we tend to forget that these two companies were ruthless competitors: whoever covered the most miles got the most funding, and so they laid track in a mad dash to outpace one another. Linking up in the middle was not a foregone conclusion, but the result of this forced partnership redefined the nation.
Why the trip down memory lane? Because it feels like the world of marketing measurement today is standing at the junction of two competing tracks, with marketing mix modeling (MMM) on one side and multitouch attribution (MTA) on the other. Both are aiming for the same marketing technology budget and the future of measurement depends on our ability to connect the two.
If you’ve had your ear to the proverbial railroad track, you’ve heard the latest lamentations:
MMM is broken! How can last year's data possibly be helpful to predict changes in behavior and adjust course during a pandemic?
MTA is dead! You can't do user-level measurement without third-party cookies or mobile ad IDs.
It’s time to get past all these misconceptions—absolutists always fail to see the big picture. At Neustar, we’re in active conversations with top marketers across many industries, and we see their frustration over measurement solutions that are ill-suited to address the complexities of today’s world, which includes hundreds of new channels, dozens of new privacy regulations, data silos, and vanishing user identifiers, just to name a few.
Based on these discussions and extensive statistical testing, we know there’s a clear path forward that weaves the best of MMM and MTA into a unified analytics solution that’s greater than the sum of its parts: 1 + 1 = 3.
The solution is far from trivial and requires best-in-class data partnerships and a solid methodological foundation, grounded in identity, to operate smoothly. But it’s well worth the effort: with a unified analytics solution in place, it is now possible for marketers to plan for the long term and react to the short term without setting off tripwires. Marketers can finally compare marketing performance across all channels—offline and online, inside and outside walled gardens—using the business-outcome metrics of their choice.
With unified analytics, brands can enrich their understanding of their best customers and be much more responsive to market shifts and competitive pressure. These days, it’s the difference between winning and losing, plain and simple.
The future of measurement is here. For a closer look, check out Neustar's new ebook. The industry is ready to usher in a new era of marketing performance. Let’s drive that ceremonial golden spike into the ground and get to work.
—Allyson Dietz, head of product marketing, Neustar