Volume 3, Issue 1 - January, 2013
Parameshvyas Laxminarayan, Director, Product Management, Visual IQ
Humans make numerous decisions in their day-to-day life with a clear intention or goal in mind - the outcome of which has great bearing on the next action they’ll take. Experimental studies in cognitive science reveal how the decision-making process is directly associated with the probability of obtaining reward. This behavior-reward probability is learned by solving what is called the credit-assignment problem. Though comparisons to cognitive neuroscience aren’t commonly made, digital attribution solves more or less the same credit-assignment problem by studying consumer engagement with media assets and the degree of influence those assets have on the purchase decision.
By calculating and assigning credit to each marketing touchpoint along the purchase path, attribution helps marketers understand the influence various media channels, publishers, campaigns, creative elements, keywords and other such factors have on a purchase or conversion. This insight can then be used to build a more effective advertising strategy.
While the data set cast by attribution is usually very wide, let’s look at how to design a simple attribution experiment that analyzes user interaction with online display ads and how they influence consumer behavior. Specifically, the experiment will seek to understand which creative message produces the most conversions.
Designing Controlled Experiments
The fundamental idea of a controlled experiment is to compare data groups that are virtually identical. In the controlled mode, one variable is changed (test group) while the other (control group) is left undisturbed. The results obtained from the test group are then compared to the control group to measure the impact of that change.
To isolate the influence of an ad’s creative message on conversions, a controlled attribution experiment would be set up as follows:
While this example demonstrates how to conduct a simple attribution experiment, most marketers aren’t looking at a single data point like creative message, but rather at data from multiple sources. The sheer volume of data makes it virtually impossible to get a holistic view of marketing performance without time consuming manual data collection and manipulation. That’s where cross channel attribution solutions come in. By integrating dozens of channels and multiple terabytes of data, attribution solutions enable you to compare the performance of every channel, campaign and tactic, across your entire marketing mix.
So take a leaf out of the cognitive neuroscience field. Use attribution to better understand the decision-making rationale within the consumer’s mind, and use those insights to significantly improve your marketing effectiveness.
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