The Problem With Attribution

Data Solutions, Ecommerce Strategy

Attribution is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of multi-channel digital marketing. It's a complex and challenging process but being able to understand which parts of your marketing strategy are effective and efficient is key. Luxury brands will have higher CPAs and longer purchase journeys so it's even more important to understand the value of each channel's contribution to each conversion. If you get your attribution right, you can be sure that your future decision are impactful.


Understanding Attribution.

Now we're going to assume that readers of this article will have some basic understanding of attribution but you can read the latest updates from Google on their attribution offerings here if you need to get up to date.

The age old story tells us the consumers usually need to hit 8 touch points before making a purchase. Attribution looks to assign value to these touch points to evaluate their efficiency and allow marketers to make strategic decision on channel/investment. Over the years this theory has developed and is no longer as straightforward as serving the ads to 1 person 8 times over. Let's look at an example.

  1. A consumer may see an ad on Facebook for a brand that they have never been exposed to before. They are not considering or even researching the product at this point in time and do not interact with the ad.

  2. They then see an in-feed ad via Youtube Shorts and decide to follow the brand on Instagram

  3. The consumer then becomes in the market for the product and begins researching different brands within that market

  4. From a Performance Max campaign they view a product page via Google Shopping. (They also view several other product pages of different brands).

  5. They are not ready to make a decision yet.

  6. They see a giveaway offer on Instagram if they sign up for the brand's newsletter so enter their details.

  7. The consumer then receives a welcome email with an introductory promotional code.

  8. They decide to wait in case they win the giveaway.

  9. They don't win so decide to go back to researching brands to try and find the best offer for the product. Even with the promotion, this brand is not the cheapest of all the other competitors.

  10. On Tiktok, the consumer is served an UGC style ad showcasing all the benefits of this brand's product.

  11. They click through on this ad and purchase the product.

That's a lot of steps. And a lot of time. Last click attribution models would give Tiktok the credit for the conversion but would the consumer even be aware of the brand if it wasn't for Facebook?

It's like saying that on a football team, your strikers scored all the goals last month, therefore you should replace your entire team with strikers. Of course, in reality you need the all the positions to work together in order for your striker to be in the right place to score.

Attribution should be less about what channel is scoring the goals (although this is still important) and more about which players are working well together in order to get the ball to the striker.


The Key to Effective Attribution.

With Google being in the process of removing a large percentage of its attribution models within Analytics and increased data privacy, this means marketers have an even more restricted view on just how much of an impact each channel has on the ever increasing purchase journey. For Luxury brands where CPAs are higher and the purchase is more considered and of a higher value, being able to make impactful decisions on where to allocate budget is really important; and could be the difference between revenue plateau and growth.

For Revenue Growth Agency, the key to more effective and accurate attribution is to move away from platform analytics and to invest in a robust 3rd party attribution platform. These solutions are far more 'all-encompassing' and can act as a central, impartial place to gather all data and measure all activity across all your channels.

How Attribution Platforms Work.

Many 3rd party attribution platforms operate in a similar way to one another. Often using pixels or website code alongside UTM campaign tracking, platforms will collect 1st party data around your website traffic including its source and subsequent activity. This data is then managed centrally within the platform itself. Because these platform make use of 1st party data, you can avoid issues surrounding data privacy and be confident that you have visibility over nearly every single website visit.

You can then apply any attribution model to your data to help display channel effectiveness. Many platforms now also offer an AI/data driven model which will model and analyse your data and assign conversion value accordingly based on its findings. Over time, you will be able to see how channels are influencing each other, which 'teammates' work well together and ultimately which strategies are contributing to driving revenue.

Whichever platform you choose should act as a single source of truth so of course its paramount that it is set up and managed correctly.

We're proud to be a NorthBeam Preferred Partner who provide a in depth view of attribution through 3 core pillars:

  • 1st party data collection

  • Powered by Machine Learning

  • Analysed via fully custom attribution models


Attribution is a tricky thing to nail but without an effective view in place, it will be hard to scale your marketing strategies profitably.

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If you or your brand are looking for support with a particular service or have a question about what you've just read, get in touch and we'll be happy to help!