2018 trend: Multichannel attribution clarifying marketing impact

Metia Group's Peter Morgan offers advice on how analytics technology will transform marketing measurement

With the pace of change in marketing becoming ever-more relentless, I’m starting a series of posts detailing the key trends savvy CMOs must understand to drive measurable growth for their business in the coming year.

Our first trend details the industry’s shift to using multichannel attribution – a move that will provide a clearer understanding of marketing impact, and increase investments in generating awareness. So, why should brands ensure they are acting upon on this now?

Last-click attribution becoming legacy practice

Last-click attribution is the policy of assigning credit for marketing conversions to the last action that triggered them. It’s a blunt model, but it’s worked well for the industry – mainly because it was better than what came before: no attribution.

Of course, a typical conversion is driven by multiple interactions, and the major drawback of last-click attribution is that any preceding events are entirely ignored. This overvalues the final interaction, and undervalues everything that came before.

The good news? Technology has advanced to the point where attributing success to multiple interactions has become more straight-forward, and we can expect a wholesale shift towards multichannel attribution in the next few years.

Multichannel attribution will increase the value of awareness investments

Direct response investments, such as lead generation, are undoubtedly generating value for brands today. However, the impact of these investments on revenue has likely been overstated, with other contributing sources being ignored.

Conversely, the impact of top-of-funnel investments on revenue has likely been undervalued as there's been no way to directly measure business impact.

As adoption of multichannel attribution accelerates, get ready for a new equilibrium – with a larger proportion of marketing budget earmarked for awareness.

Highlighting the value of mobile

It's inevitable this transition will also increase investments in mobile. In a recent interview with Google, Bain & Company's Laura Beaudin speculated that brands significantly under-invest in mobile, as last-click attribution undervalues the impact mobile has on revenue.  

"79% of consumers use their smartphones to research, however, only 10% of purchases are on a mobile device… and companies spend just 13% of their media budgets on mobile advertising… We need to move away from last-click attribution models to something that better reflects a consumer journey.” – Laura Beaudin, Bain & Company


Smart marketers are anticipating this trend now, ensuring their content, destinations, and demand generation deliver a seamless experience across all devices.

In 2017 research, senior US marketers rated mobile marketing’s current contribution to company performance at just 2.7 points out of a possible 7. The same respondents are, however, still planning significant investments: forecasting that marketing spend on mobile will grow from 5.1% to 11.1% of total marketing budget within the next three years.

Ultimately, marketers wanting to see the true value of awareness investments will need to step away from last-click attribution practices, to a more joined-up, multichannel approach.

Is multichannel attribution on your marketing agenda for 2018? In my next blog, I will look at the impact of GDPR and how it will popularize the fair exchange of value.

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