The Value of Attribution in 2018

With the ever-increasing availability of granular detail about what customers buy, do, believe and say about their preferred brands, 2018 will be a tipping point. The year in which a greater volume of advertisers recognise that the value of the data they hold is greater than a simple understanding of which channel will sell most widgets.

Make sense of data already being collected

Two of the wettest names in this deluge of enriched data are already very familiar to the average household. Google and Facebook owned properties occupy around 28% of all time spent on the internet. Consequently they warrant considerable attention when advertisers study the performance of their marketing campaigns.
Both platforms offer unparalleled reach, real-time deterministic targeting and the capacity to deliver tailored touchpoints all the way down the funnel to purchase. Coupled to an innovative and detailed understanding of audience behaviour across devices, these capabilities mean that these publishers are central to most media plans.Space & Time Insights is neatly geared up to integrate fully with both: data streams from Facebook and Google Adwords or DCM, alongside Google Analytics, are usually the entry point to a world of new sharable insights to benefit businesses and their customers.

Visualise data to visualise customers

In the past year or so our clients have already begun to see the benefits of automating their data collection– from their web analytics, customer databases, social, search and display platforms. Whilst data capture remains central to the provision of conversions and transactions over the short term, real value is now recognised in the long-term accretion of data about customer habits and personas, for future targeting and the provision of excellent online experiences for repeat custom and word of mouth for the brand. This level of detail is only usually possible if clients and their agencies can step away from manually pulling all of the information together and take the time to consider what it actually tells them: to glean insight, and to act upon it. Essential therefore to the dawn of this more sophisticated use of data will be the use of holistic reporting platforms and improvement to the tracking tools feeding them. It’s likely that the adoption of such tools– being refined steadily through the use of AI assistance and the development of more accessible interfaces – will be gathering pace this year.

Last click finally on its last legs?

Consequently 2018 could well be the year where we really start looking at multi-touch attribution (as opposed to just focusing on results of campaigns independently on a last click basis). For all the fear that it holds for many, GDPR will have real value here. It will deliver the improved organisation of data and the many reporting and targeting benefits available with quick access to well-structured, clean and properly opted-in customer records. We’re already working with some shiny new tools within platforms that allow brands to match customers back to the touchpoints they’ve made along the route to purchase, and crucially many of these tools are starting to provide visualisations of this information side by side. Discovering which channels work best at different stages of customer journeys will help refine messaging and formats while also limiting the overvaluing of media at the last stage of the journey.

Call tracking systems will probably be re-examined in support of this shift. We see plenty of call tracking providers that are underutilised in terms of potential integration with Analytics and AdWords, and having offline numbers set up without consistent labelling to help bring results clearly into third-party reporting tools. Furthermore, these tools often offer built-in digital campaign reporting but this can scrape only the major metrics and so overlook crucial engagement indicators that are better taken from Analytics or the media owners’ own measurement tools. As well as building out and working with third-party reporting tools, Space and Time can help with Google Analytics audits; making sure that all of the conversions and events you need are correctly set up; ensuring that call tracking is integrated where appropriate and confirming that everything is primed for feeding into other reporting software.

Different approaches, same motives

At the operational level, using tools such as these to deliver a detailed understanding of current and prospective audiences in line with set business objectives is a great starting point. This can inform decisions over what budget may be better channelled for frequency outside of Google and Facebook, meaning we can be sure that every buy has truly earned its way onto the media schedule.More strategically, the collection of more and more nuanced data, the tidying of systems and processes, and an all-round increased emphasis on audience-centric marketing means that buying decisions are continually improved and budgets constantly pushed to work harder. Ad content and timing can be explored in more detail, improving user website experience and encouraging repeat custom. Ultimately the insight gleaned in this way can even influence the position and long-term direction of the brand itself.