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How to Make the Transition to Multi-Touch Attribution: Webinar Q&A

November 13, 2017 - By Wayne St. Amand, CMO, Visual IQ

How to Make the Transition to Multi-Touch Attribution: Webinar Q&A

Many marketers still use the most basic (and flawed) form of campaign measurement: last-touch attribution. This approach assigns 100 percent of the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint and ignores the contribution of all previous interactions with your brand. Last touch may seem straight-forward and easier to implement, but it’s deeply misleading. Marketers who only look at conversions simply can’t plan or allocate budget properly. 

That’s why multi-touch attribution (MTA)—allocating credit across all marketing touchpoints—is gaining momentum. But many marketers don’t know how to take full advantage of this more robust approach.

In our recent webinar, Forrester Principal Analyst Jim Nail and I walked through the reasons why marketers should make the move to multi-touch attribution. We covered common challenges, what kind of results to expect, and how to make your multi-touch attribution engagement a success.

The webinar was Visual IQ’s most popular and we weren’t able to answer all of the questions that streamed in from attendees in the time we had. If you submitted a question, thank you! Here are answers to the most common questions we received. If you have any others, please reach out to us.

1. In your experience, how often does multi-touch attribution for a brand's marketing need to be refreshed, as customer journeys change (driven by various external factors).

MTA models should be updated daily in order to produce the most up-to-date attributed metrics. Marketers need to react quickly to keep pace with consumers and respond to changing market conditions. A daily modeling cadence ensures that marketers have access to the freshest and most accurate insights. They can use these insights to fuel more effective optimization decisions and deliver the right message to the right person, at the right place and time.

2. Earlier in the presentation you mentioned "scenario planning." Can you elaborate?

Scenario planning, also known as predictive analytics, enables you to compare potential “what if” marketing plan scenarios and analyze the impact of each scenario on your business goals before you execute. It helps you select the mix of channels and tactics that will meet your goals within your defined budget, so you can better forecast your performance.

3. How do you factor in broad tactics like TV into today's measurement process? Digital is easiest to figure out ROI, but TV certainly still plays a role in some instances.

Marketing mix modeling (MMM) has long been the de facto standard for evaluating return on advertising investment across channels, including TV. But these models only capture the long-term impact of TV at an aggregate level. To measure the more immediate impact of TV, we recommend a TV Attribution model.

TV Attribution quantifies the impact of TV ads on digital responses (such as search queries or website visits) that occur within minutes, hours or days of a spot airing. It takes the guesswork out of determining which combination of tactics (network, telecast/program, daypart, geography, creative, etc.) will drive the greatest digital response, so you can allocate your TV budget and optimize your creative rotation more effectively moving forward.

4. I head up the quantitative marketing team at a smaller organization and would like to do much more on attribution and media mix modeling; however, my organization has no analytics department. What can I do on my own?

Most marketing tech platforms (marketing automation systems, etc.) have some form of built-in attribution capabilities, and this is often a good place to start when you’re just beginning your journey, even if it’s not full-blown MTA. 

5. This was a helpful overview at a high level of why this is important. But how do we get started? What do we solve for first in the journey to multi-touch attribution?

One of the challenges of adopting any attribution system is change management. We typically recommend an iterative approach so that your organization can mature at a pace that’s right for you. You may need to start with rules-based attribution so that you can see how things are working before moving to multi-touch. 

First off, you need to have the ability to compare. For example, you can start by pairing two channels, business units, product lines or a precise time period. This will allow you to see initial results that demonstrate the platform’s performance, gives you insights into your channels and how they work together, and builds momentum for expansion. 

Search and display are often a good place to start because these two channels support each other. Once some initial results have been realized, those early successes can be used to build a data strategy and a roadmap for expansion across additional channels, business units, geographic areas, and more. 

6. How should a CPG advertiser think about MTA given that we don't have a closed loop to sales data for either offline or online? Or is it more applicable for direct marketers that have that data?

It’s true that multi-touch attribution has primarily been a direct response (DR) exercise, providing DR marketers with a clear line of sight between their efforts and bottom-line metrics such as sales, revenue, ROAS and ROI. However, more and more CPGs -- as well as other companies that are more focused on branding -- are starting to take advantage of multi-touch attribution capabilities in order to benefit from a holistic view of each touchpoint’s true impact on brand marketing performance. There are solutions available today that incorporate multiple brand engagement activities into a single KPI metric, so that brand marketers can accurately allocate their budget to the channels and tactics that generate the most lift.

7. How do you track MTA touches/interactions with your ads that happen off website/out-of-reach of Google Analytics tracking?

There are a host of technologies used to track consumer journeys across channels and devices for multi-touch attribution. These enable your MTA solution to string together a chronologically ordered list of all of the marketing touchpoints to which an individual user was exposed, including interactions that happen off your website. The most common types include cookies, click redirects, image tags, site tags and unique identifiers.​ Read Cookies, Tags, Pixels and IDs: Tracking the Consumer Journey to learn how each of these technologies work.

8. Without going into the mathematical backbone of MTA tools, talk about how these accurately track the customer through his journey, ultimately resulting to a desired action (purchase, for example) in the end.

Tracking consumers and their exposure is at the core of a modern multi-touch attribution methodology. Collecting user-level data across channels and devices and consolidating multiple IDs into one unique ID serves as the foundation of the process for building holistic consumer journeys for multi-touch attribution. There are several tracking technologies that make this possible. As I mentioned in question #8, these include cookies, click redirects, image tags, site tags and unique identifiers. You can check out our blog post for more details.

9. Help me understand -- if last-touch attribution is dated does that mean my client who uses first touch (sometime for as much as 24 months) even more dated?

Yes, and that data will not allow your client to understand which marketing is working and which isn’t today. Although first-touch attribution does have its uses. For instance, this model is often used to measure marketing efforts that are intended to drive awareness by reaching new consumers for the first time. However, now that consumers use ever more channels in their interactions with brands, neither first nor last-touch is able to show how each touchpoint contributes to the conversion. Multi-touch attribution shows the value and synergies between touchpoints.

In the end, rules-based attribution is subjective, while algorithmic attribution uses objective, statistical modeling and machine-learning techniques to allocate credit. But whether you use a rules-based approach or a more sophisticated algorithmic model, either will provide you with insight you didn’t have before.

10. How specifically are you approaching allocating attribution across brand and programmatic marketing initiatives (where brand may be traditional media or digital efforts)?

There is no one specific response to this question. Your plan will vary depending on a number of factors unique to your business and goal. Let your KPIs dictate your investments and then measure carefully. 

11. Could you do a follow-up and perhaps share some case studies getting more granular into how attribution has been defined and measured using Visual IQ.

We regularly present with our customers at industry conferences, seminars and webinars, where they share their experiences and successes using our platform. Be sure to check out the videos of our sessions at this year’s Gartner Digital Marketing Conference, Forrester Consumer Marketing Forum, and dmexco events, where you’ll hear customers like H&R Block, O2, Petco, Roku and SAP talk about how they are using our platform to optimize their budgets, consumer experiences and business results. More case studies can also be found in the Resource Center on our site.

12. I would love to know more about the platform.

Visual IQ’s Marketing Intelligence Platform consolidates people-based insights with multi-touch attribution in a single user interface, so marketers can optimize marketing and advertising performance by audience segment. It provides real-time insight into how different audiences interact with your brand across digital, mobile and physical environments, so you can optimize budgets across all consumer touchpoints while delivering relevant experiences that maximize business results. To learn more about how you can understand the true performance of your marketing and advertising efforts by audience, contact Visual IQ, or request your free, no-obligation demo today.

13. What are some of the key data points that should be considered when determining attribution percentages for sales based on when the ad touched the consumer in the buying process?

The good news is you don’t have to figure this out in advance. The very best MTA approaches do the weighting for you. We’ve found time and again that relying on the years of data science R&D factored into most algorithmic MTA approaches is the best way to go. Not relying on the expertise built into the platforms is like going into a five-star restaurant and asking to do the cooking yourself, crazy right?

14. Is Visual IQ available in LATAM?

Yes, Visual IQ supports companies around the world that are getting up to speed with marketing attribution. Recently, we joined our partner Oracle and host agency DP6 in São Paulo, Brazil for a two-day Multi-Touch Attribution event for executives from more than 30 major companies. Read more here: Future Focus: Digital Marketing in Brazil.

15. How do you validate the positive impact of moving from last touch to MTA?

The ROI of moving from last touch to MTA has been validated by industry analysts including Gartner. Visual IQ customers typically realize a 15-35% increase in marketing efficiency within the first year of their engagement. Take a look at some of our latest success stories to see the results we’ve helped produce.

16. What are the simplest tools to start doing multi-touch attribution?

It depends on what you need to look for. Multi-touch attribution is a broad discipline that includes multiple tools, methods and models. Most marketing and advertising technology platforms have some built-in attribution capabilities, and this is often a good place to start. The challenge with these systems is that the data and attribution insights derived from them are inherently siloed. You won’t be able to gain a holistic overview that is the true strength of MTA.

Knowing which tool is right for your business depends on which model is right -- and that depends on what you want to do with the results. Start by choosing the model you need, then select the tool that provides what you’re looking for. Ultimately, choosing an MTA solution comes down to your goals, business requirements and how you want to use the output to improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Read Methods & Models: A Quick Guide to Multi-Touch Attribution to determine which model is right for you.

Thank you to all our webinar attendees who submitted questions! Don't see your question? Want to find out more? Send us your question here.

About Jim Nail, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

Serving B2C marketing professionals, Jim leads Forrester's coverage of all forms of video advertising, changing consumer media behaviors and the post-digital transformation of marketing. With Tina Moffett, he shares leadership of marketing measurement and the Marketing Measurement And Insights Playbook.

About Wayne St. Amand, Chief Marketing Officer, Visual IQ, a Nielsen company

Wayne is a veteran marketing leader with a long track record of significantly increasing the growth trajectory and valuation of technology companies. At Visual IQ, Wayne is responsible for driving business expansion through the company’s global corporate and product marketing strategies. He works actively with the company’s brand and agency customers to discover, refine and communicate some of the world’s most ground-breaking uses of Marketing Intelligence technology.

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