Attribution management is about giving credit where credit is due. In the process of applying attribution management to measure your online media, a lot of other information can be garnered and turned into action.
Attribution management begins with a tracking technology in place that allows you to track both clicks and view-throughs, and tracks beyond the last click. Here's an example of the type of data available on a particular order if an attribution management technology is in place:
3 Step Purchase Path
By being able to see the entire purchase path for all conversions, a marketer is given key insights into not only the performance of their ads, but also many overlooked actionable benefits.
1. Negotiate the A in CPA for Display
Most people who buy display advertising on a cost per acquisition (CPA) model know that they can negotiate the cost they pay when an acquisition occurs. What most people don't know is that what constitutes the A (acquisition) in CPA when it comes to display is also negotiable if you have attribution data.
Display networks typically provide a minimum of a 30-day window and whenever a display impression was served within 30 days of conversion, they get paid. Most marketers agree that a 30-day window is probably too large, but they don't have the data to prove that to negotiate that point. If that same marketer had purchase path data, like the example above, they would be able to conclusively prove when a display ad truly impacted a conversion.
You can successfully negotiate smaller windows using purchase path data, and at other times negotiate paying a lower cost when other CPA advertisements from other networks are in the same path. Lastly, you can set up different rules for payment when a display ad was used for a retargeting effort. You can read more details about the inner working of this process in "What's the 'A' in CPA for Display?"
2. Negotiate with Affiliates
Affiliates operate much the same as display CPA networks. In short, if an affiliate ad was clicked within a certain window of conversion, they get paid. When clients of ours drill into purchase path data centered on affiliates, they are clearly able to see the impact that affiliates truly have.
Unfortunately, what they see all too often is that affiliates typically are the last item clicked prior to conversion, but rarely appear in a first position (introducer) or in a middle position (influencer). The problem here is that affiliates are often getting paid for conversions that you would have received anyway.
In the example above, the affiliate PPC ad was triggered just moments after they already were on the clients' site. This likely occurred because the client provided an offer to enter a coupon/promo code on the checkout page. When savvy customers see this, they know to go back to their search engine, type in the company name they want to do business with and add the coupon/promo code to it.
This, in turn, then generates ads by affiliates that offer this discount. The consumer clicks on the affiliate ad, ends up back on the site they were already set to buy from, only this time they buy with a promo code, costing the company a discount and an affiliate fee.
Use purchase path data to identify affiliates that only operate in this manner and either remove them or change the rules for how you pay them. This process assures you're paying affiliates at times where they add incremental value versus paying them for business you already had.
3. How to Identify Opportunities for Cross-sell/up-sell
When it comes to giving credit where credit is due, the optimal metric to use is profit. In order to get to profit, the tracking technology needs to know which products were in the order and the margins or cost of goods sold associated with those products. If you know the products that were sold, and also are able to see what that consumer searched for prior to making that purchase, you can identify some cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
In the purchase path example above, the person who purchased golf shoes actually showed interest in Ping golf clubs. This data presents us with a possible opportunity for a future up-sell.
It isn't unreasonable to assume that this person still has interest in a set of Ping golf clubs. Therefore, the marketing department can choose to send this person some direct email communication promoting Ping golf clubs or, through the use of some third-party website technologies, make sure that the next time they visit the site, Ping golf clubs are displayed prominently to this user.
A marketer could also look at aggregate purchase path data and reach some conclusions. For example, they might see there is a high correlation between people who have bought Ping golf clubs and also bought Foot Joy golf shoes. A marketer could then look at all people who have bought Ping golf clubs and no shoes, and then market those people golf shoes and vice versa.
4. The Impact of Latency and How to Account For it
In the example above, this customer's purchase path took 30 days. If the marketer were to evaluate the effectiveness of the display ad in just a seven-day window, they would show that the display ad didn't contribute to any sales.
This short-sighted view of an ad's performance can lead a marketer to turn off ads that have latent conversions. Across our client base, we have seen that consumers don't always buy on the same day that they either clicked or saw an ad. Therefore, it's extremely important that marketers evaluate their ads in a time period that accounts for these latent conversions.
The purchase path data above clearly shows the timestamp and data of each ad's view and click, which allows a marketer to establish a solid period for which they will evaluate an ad's performance. With a more accurate window for evaluating an ad's performance, a marketer can assure that they never turn off an ad or reduce its value by being shortsighted.
5. How Lowering Your Quality Score can Increase Your Profit
Some marketers are obsessed with improving their quality score. Search engines have done a great job of convincing us that increasing quality score is of our best interest. The reality: a higher quality score is in the best interest of the search engines' pockets.
The most profitable PPC ads don't always have the highest quality score. Make sure that PPC ad text you're running is the ad that does the most for your bottom line, not the search engines.
In the example above, we can see which ad text was shown with the PPC ad. Therefore, we can attribute profit to not only the keyword, but the specific ad text shown at that time. Once a large enough sample size has been generated, we can see which ad text related to a particular keyword has generated the most profit.
Focus on your bottom line. Run ads that are most profitable to you, even if that means sacrificing quality score.
These are just some of the other actionable benefits that attribution management can provide. For more on attribution management, check out this recent Forrester Consulting study, which determined the total economic impact of attribution management.
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