Marketing Attribution Software
Marketing attribution software is a tool that helps evaluate the impact and success of marketing efforts by assigning revenue or conversions to specific marketing channels, campaigns, and touchpoints. The attribution software provides insights into how different marketing activities contribute to customer journeys and conversions, and calculates the return on investment (ROI) for each marketing expense. This information can be utilized to refine marketing plans and allocate marketing budgets in a more efficient manner.
Marketing attribution refers to the practice of giving credit to the various touchpoints that a consumer interacts with before taking a desired action, such as making a purchase, downloading an app or subscribing to a service. This process is typically performed at either a household or individual level and links the outcome, such as a lead, sale, or visit, to the exposure to media and advertising. Marketing attribution software provides a way to directly connect ad exposure and outcomes in a detailed and actionable manner. However, it can be challenging for these “bottom-up” approaches to factor in other external influences on the outcome and to accurately account for all media touchpoints. Moreover the functionality of such tools has become significantly limited without access to third-party cookies and IDFA.
Types of marketing attribution software
All attribution approaches can be divided into two categories.
- Single-touch attribution is a method in which credit is either given solely or given the most weight to one specific touchpoint in the customer journey. This could be the first or last touchpoint, for example. While single-touch attribution has its use cases, they are often limited to specific campaign goals or product types. When using this method, it is important that it aligns with the campaign objective and is clearly supported with disclosure.
For instance, a company seeking to generate inquiries or a direct-to-consumer online marketer displaying an advertisement in an online marketplace followed by a direct click-through conversion might find it suitable to attribute the outcome to a single interaction (first and last touchpoint, respectively). However, it’s still possible that other factors and exposures contributed to the outcome. When using single-touch methods, it’s important to consider other factors, disclose the assumptions and limitations, and provide appropriate guidance for use corresponding to the advertising scenario and campaign objective.
- Multi-touch attribution (MTA) aims to assign credit to multiple exposures across different media and other factors when determining actions or outcomes. It’s crucial that the MTA approach aligns with the campaign goals and is transparent to end-users. The process of determining which exposures to attribute and the weights or values assigned to them must be robust and verifiable for audit purposes of MTA methodologies. Further, general requirements related to all attribution methods, particularly applicable to MTA, are discussed in more detail later in this section.
Requirements for marketing attribution software
To link media and advertising exposure to outcomes through attribution, the use of standardized ad identifiers is recommended. However, evidence must be provided to support the relationship between measured exposure and outcomes, and the methods used must be disclosed.
Periodic reviews, at least once a year, of attribution methodologies should be conducted.
Additionally, attribution should adhere to standard rules for data precision, resolution, matching, and persistence across data sets. Measurement providers should disclose the scope and coverage of their data, including limitations and gaps, and the impact of these on their results. Efforts should be made to continuously address any significant gaps in coverage.
- Alignment with campaign goals
- Transparent to end-users
- Robust process of determining exposures to attribute
- Demonstrable support for weights or values assigned to exposures
- Ability to account for all factors influencing consumer behavior
Specific Attribution Limitations:
- Difficulty in accounting for all external factors affecting consumer behavior
- Limited granularity in attributing credit to individual exposures
- Reliance on the accuracy of panel data and surveys
- Bias in the selection of the panel or survey participants
Examples of marketing attribution software
- Adobe Analytics
- Google Analytics 360
Pros and cons of marketing attribution software
- High granularity
- Almost real-time analytics
- Might assign too much credit to digital channels
- Does not always take into account other factors like seasonality
- Usually don’t take into account offline channels
- New privacy regulations related to third-party cookies and IDFA limit its functionality
Beyond cookie and IDFA
As you can see in the table above, the recent changes undermine functionality of marketing attribution software, especially MTA tools. It will no longer be possible to identify the full path to purchase, and marketers will be left with a pile of incomplete paths. Single-touch attribution will remain, but it is not an ideal solution to begin with.
A study by IAB about the future of marketing measurement analyzes various measurement approaches and performance metrics and explains how they will be affected by the elimination of third-party cookies and IDFA. It covers the challenges and limitations of using cookies for online measurement and highlights alternative solutions and technologies that could shape the industry. It provides insights, recommendations, and best practices for advertisers, marketers, and technology providers to succeed in a rapidly evolving online advertising landscape.
According to the study, marketing attribution software will be heavily impacted by these privacy-related changes. If marketers want to keep attribution software on their measurement kit, there are a few things to take into account:
- Look out for new identity solutions and choose those that are based on API and first-party data
- Get more independence by using server side APIs
- Rely on large data panels in your measurements to analyze media consumption
- Use differential privacy methods that allow you to comply with regulations while making the necessary measurements
- Combine different measurement tools that together will get you a holistic view of the situation
According to the same study, marketing mix modeling will be only slightly affected by the changes. As it uses aggregate data, it already complies with privacy regulations. Even without marketing attribution software it is possible to obtain quite detailed and accurate evaluation of ad campaigns. Advanced analytical solutions can measure the effectiveness of each channel in your media mix both online and offline. Compare these three AI-based modeling tools that allow brands to invest each marketing dollar in the most efficient way. It is even advisable if your media mix includes traditional media like OOH, radio and TV.