attribution path

What Are You Doing with Attribution?

Attribution is a hot topic. Every digital marketer talks about it. But what are you doing with attribution? Cross-channel tracking solutions, like the IgnitionOne Digital Marketing Suite platform, collect data across various online advertising channels and attribute transactions according to a pre-determined, fully customizable model. But how can you use this analysis to optimize your digital presence? First, identify which data is valuable to your company. Next, interpret the data, and last, answer this question:  How is attribution actionable for my company or client?

 Use the exposure path for budget allocation.

Determine your campaigns’ primary KPI (key performance indicator) and determine how each channel contributes to your overall goals.

Idea 1: Maximize your investment in channels that drive conversions with a single exposure. This means the consumer sees a single ad, e-mail listing or organic result, clicks and converts. These channels should be fully funded until they reach diminishing returns. For example, 32% of single exposure transactions for an IgnitionOne hotel client are driven by paid search brand terms. Our analyst team has maximized investment in brand campaigns to ensure all of the potential single exposure transactions are captured.

Idea 2: Invest heavily in channels that appear often as the last exposure in the path to conversion. In multi-exposure conversion paths, each step is important, but the last exposure “closes the sale”. For the hotel client, the last exposure is a remarketing view in 23% of multi-exposure transactions, so our display team has maximized investment in display remarketing to ensure display remarketing is not limited by budget.

Idea 3: Evaluate assist value when allocating your remaining budget. Not every channel will drive single exposure conversions or show up as the last exposure in a multi-exposure conversion path. Some channels provide value as upper-funnel tactics. For the hotel client, display prospecting is used to build awareness for promotions and events. After the awareness builds, the demand is captured through channels that drive direct conversions, like paid search brand and organic search. Allocate a portion of your budget to channels that assist conversions and build awareness.

Use latency to drive your paid search bidding strategy.

Chances are you already consider inventory and availability constraints for retail, travel and other clients, but are you factoring latency into your bidding strategy?

The first exposure usually determines the latency to conversion you can expect in a particular conversion path. When the first exposure on a conversion path is a display prospecting view, the conversion path will be longer than when the first exposure is an organic or paid search brand click.

Example: The average booking window for the hotel client is forty days, which means the average consumer books his hotel room forty days before he plans to travel. Our analysts consider the hotel’s vacancy when bidding on paid media and planning display campaigns, to limit unnecessary spend forty days before dates when the hotel is completely booked. Additionally, the team uses latency trends to further optimize. The average latency to conversion for a single exposure path is less than two days, while the average latency to conversion for a multi-exposure path is eight days. Serving display prospecting ads, which generally have a longer path to conversion, would be most effective around forty-eight days prior to high vacancy dates (forty day booking window + eight day expected latency to conversion.) Paid search brand ads often drive single exposure conversions, so bids are maximized around forty-two days prior to high vacancy dates (forty-day booking window + two day expected latency to conversion.)

Use A/B testing to optimize your media mix model.

You have probably run advertising campaigns on paid search brand and non-brand, display prospecting and remarketing, e-mail, organic and social channels. Are all of these channels right for you?

A/B testing is risky, but the payoff is worth it. The goal of A/B testing based on attribution is to reroute traffic from a less efficient channel to a more efficient channel. The risk lies in temporarily cutting off or limiting spend on a particular channel. If your hypothesis that traffic can be routed to a more efficient channel proves to be true, you should consider altering your media mix to improve overall performance.

Example: The hotel client has recently optimized their organic presence. The cost of optimizing organic is far less than the variable cost of running a robust e-mail marketing campaign. The proposed test is to stop sending e-mails for a period of time and to analyze subsequent traffic and conversion trends. If the traffic is rerouted successfully to the more efficient channel (organic search in this case), then e-mail spend will be limited in the future.

Use attribution analysis to drive actionable results. As a starting point, use exposure paths to allocate your budget, analyze latency to add another layer to your bidding strategy and do not shy away from A/B testing. The possible applications of attribution analysis are unlimited, but the real value is when you start converting big data into big results.

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