A perfect storm of factors has been brewing for the last couple of years that have led many marketers to re-think the way they assess the performance of their marketing initiatives:
- An increase in the number of channels the average brand used to market itself, leading to an increase in marketing “touches” experienced by consumers
- An increase in the use of digital channels, resulting in an increase in measureable marketing results/data
- Growing evidence that marketing channels and campaigns do not operate in a vacuum, but influence and are influenced by, all other channels and campaigns
- The advent of attribution management technology that allows marketers to understand the impact of each channel, campaign and attribute, on each other
As a result of these factors, “last-click measurement” is experiencing a rapid decline as the de facto form of measurement in today’s marketing environment – in fact, it’s dying. Instead of giving 100% of credit for a conversion to the channel through which that conversion was recorded (the “last click”), smart marketers are now taking steps to identify all the marketing touches that took place with each customer on his path to a purchase, and calculate the true impact of each touch on that eventual purchase. By doing so they can make more informed marketing decisions that help increase the performance of their overall marketing ecosystem. And the last click measurement methodology is looking pretty antiquated by comparison.
Attribution management is the “last click killer.” It is increasingly becoming the preferred measurement methodology – particularly for BtoC marketers with lots of marketing data, because it provides complete insight into how every marketing touch point across all the channels contributes—or not—to a conversion, as well as where future media spend is best allocated for maximum return. The metrics that the output of attribution modeling produces are the newest tools available to marketers to drive optimization of their individual campaigns, as well as their overall media mix. These metrics are algorithmically driven re-calculations of the critical success metrics marketers are already using, but taking into account all cross-channel, cross-campaign and cross-attribute influence.
The practice of attribution isn’t that new. In fact, it’s been around for a number of years, but only now are an additional set of factors enabling it to gain significant momentum and make marketers seriously re-think the viability of last-click measurement:
- It is now possible to perform attribution between online and offline channels – where it had previously been limited to online only
- It can be performed using either user-level (i.e., cookies) data, or campaign summary-level (non-user-level) data – where user-level data had previously been required
- User-friendly attribution software has now been developed – where previously attribution was a professional service play
- The science behind attribution has improved, now using 100% of data to calculate impact/influence – where previously data sampling and/or “pick your own attribution flavor” methodologies were used
As companies get smarter about the influence that a variety of channels have on each other – and the influence between them is quantified – they will get more strategic about how they integrate the use of multiple channels, and invariably the number and variety of channels companies use to maximize their marketing performance will increase. Last click measurement will not support these strategies or growth, and over time it will die – as it is already dying.
Companies who fail to adapt their method of measuring success by quantifying influence between channels, campaigns and attributes will soon be at a competitive disadvantage to those who do – just as companies who failed to quickly embrace search marketing over a decade ago were at a disadvantage to their more forward-thinking competitors who did.