Attribution, The Difference Between Reporting And Action

Google Premium, which has been presented to the industry over the last month is the latest system to profess to offer reporting on marketing attribution in some guise – some are better than others, but most all fall into the trap of being a tool for reporting rather than action.

Much of the gap between translating one into the other should obviously be filled by the client and their agencies, but that is only one part of the issue.

Too many companies I’ve spoken with use attribution to report marketing performance (rather than the old fashioned last click), but hardly any – unlike our clients – have made changes to their digital strategy or automatically optimised their spend as a result.

This is because these attribution tools have fallen into the trap of web analytics 5 years ago.  They are producing increasingly attractive graphics showing all sorts of interesting things, but none of them actually tell you what to do and what to change for the better.

The key to attribution change is two-fold:

1. Get tags managed: Marketing campaigns need to be not only reported by attribution, but also awarded credit/commission by the same model.  Email, affiliates, PPC, display and other managed channels all have their own technology to execute them, each with their own tracking (using pixels fired on the confirmation page); therefore you must use a tag management system which can conditionally fire a pixel (or part of it) so each channel sees the true value you are assigning to it.  In doing this, you will instantly deduplicate affiliates – not just against other networks but all other activity that you’re engaged in. If you pay on a last click model and SEO actually delivered the last click, then the credit should go to natural search. This is true deduplication and it motivates partners to focus on driving towards the goals you set them not to get a cookie on every converting customer.

2. Drag insight from data: Expertise must be applied to interpret the data and help you arrive at conclusions.  TagMan account teams constantly delve into client data to demonstrate its value through actionable insight but this is not their day job and there are people much more able and willing to take it on. That is why we have so many analytical partners such as Logan Tod, Data Science, Greenlight, Infectious and Latitude who have an insights team to analyse the raw data and go much further than pre-canned reports.

When tag management and insight brands at last make real inroads to driving effectiveness across their entire media mix – and that is the whole point of attribution.

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