3 Must-Know Findings About Cross-Channel Attribution

Attribution continues to be a struggle for the modern marketer. While there have been technological advancements that enable more sophisticated multi-touch attribution models, many marketers are still challenged by connecting the dots and acting on the insights revealed from their measurement to truly make an impact on decision-making across search, social, and beyond.

Earlier this year, Kenshoo commissioned Forrester Consulting to dive into the topic of cross-channel attribution in order to better understand the challenges marketers face, the strides that have been made, and the opportunities left to be explored.

The recently released research uncovered several interesting findings worth highlighting for search marketers:

Marketers Are Leveraging More and More Channels, Predominantly Digital, to Reach Customers.

The average marketer uses 13 channels to reach its audience and meet its marketing objectives. Of the top 10 channels cited by marketers, eight of those channels were digital. Paid search ranked fourth on the list, with 78 percent of marketers using it to drive their marketing, but it was notably the highest cited channel when it came to inclusion in attribution measurement. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise; search elicits high intent signals and shows its strength in driving down-the-funnel activity, so marketers prioritize attribution for this channel that delivers for them.

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Mobile search measurement tells a bit of a different story. While 68 percent of those surveyed listed mobile search as part of their marketing mix, only 40 percent include it in their attribution. The mobile environment surfaces a number of unique challenges that marketers haven’t quite figured out, meaning that many just leave it out of the equation entirely.

Most Marketers Are Moving Beyond Single-Point Models, but Few Are Measuring Across Channels.

Of those surveyed, 23 percent indicated that they still use a single-touch (first or last) attribution model to credit channels. It’s positive to see this pool shrinking as research has shown that last-click models are undervaluing contributions from channels.

It still remains, however, that eight in nine marketers are using basic attribution methods, as opposed to more advanced, algorithmic measurement, and are not doing so simultaneously across channels. The majority of advertisers are either measuring each channel separately (41 percent) or taking limited steps (36 percent) to measure cross-channel effects.

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The dynamic customer journey requires you to broaden your view of attribution to account for multiple touch points across multiple channels in order to truly understand the impact of the marketing mix and make informed decisions about your investments.

Without this purview, search marketers could be under-investing in channels that are actually positively influencing search performance. For example, one such study found that segments exposed to paid search ads in conjunction with paid social ads delivered up to a 30 percent more return on ad spend than those audiences exposed to paid search ads alone.

Marketers Are Seeking Actionable Outputs From Their Attribution Efforts.

Marketers recognize the power that more sophisticated and integrated measurement can bring and desire more from their existing programs and partners to achieve valuable outputs. In fact, 84 percent said that it is very to critically important to them to be able to change media buys based on prior attribution results and impact and 76 percent find great importance in measuring incremental sales by channel. Understanding which search terms have the most impact on performance also topped the list.

Clearly, marketers are relying more and more on attribution to answer questions about performance, validate optimization decisions, and guide budget planning.

Where Should Marketers Go From Here?

Marketers are starting to become more agile and sophisticated with attribution, but there is still room to grow.

Organizational silos and buy-in across teams can hold you back from moving ahead with implementing more advanced measurement strategies that span across initiatives. If your organization doesn’t have an attribution champion, make it your goal to become the subject matter expert and seek out sponsorship and support from key stakeholders to build your case. Perhaps you start small, just within your search team, then develop a plan to scale out more advanced attribution measurement.

Take a test-and-learn approach and use this opportunity to try new methods and combinations within your media mix. As the report recommends, connect your attribution to your bidding platforms to capture opportunities and adjust your bids and budgets in real-time. With technology on your side, you can accelerate your actionability and make in-market changes that can begin to move the needle.

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