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Put Your Attributed Metrics to the Test

Volume 6, Issue 5 - May, 2016

Editor, IQ Advisor

To truly benefit from advanced attribution, marketers must incorporate the measurement and optimization recommendations it produces into their day-to-day marketing environments. But getting buy-in from channel owners who will have to use a new set of attributed metrics to plan and optimize their campaigns can be a challenge. So what is the first step for introducing attribution modeling into your media planning routine? Create a test plan. This is a critical element for evaluating the accuracy of the attribution model against your existing measurement model, and ultimately, ensuring the attribution solution is embraced within your organization. Here are three steps you can take to create an effective testing strategy:

1) Define Your Goal
The first step to a successful test plan is determining your goal. The goal may be high-level and strategic, such as increasing sales or revenue, or it can be more granular and channel-specific, such as reducing the cost per acquisition (CPA) of your paid search campaigns. Whatever your goal, make sure it is actionable and measureable. Actionable means your goal can be easily implemented and acted upon. Since real-world constraints such as finite budgets and limited search inventory can impact your ability to achieve your goal, they must be considered in order for your testing strategy to succeed. Measureable means your goal can be quantified in some way. For example, are you trying to increase digital conversions by 5%? Do you want to reduce CPA by 10%? Tying a concrete number to your goal will ensure you’re able to accurately evaluate the results of your test.

2) Determine Test
There are a number of different testing strategies depending on whether you’re focused on long-term or immediate results, so it’s important to choose the right approach based on your goal. For example, if you have an immediate goal to reduce the CPA of your paid search campaigns, a potential testing strategy might include comparing keyword performance using your current model against the results from the attribution model. If both approaches indicate that certain keywords aren’t driving any conversions, a decision to pause those non-performing keywords and reallocate budget elsewhere is quickly validated. Moreover, you can quickly uncover the immediate savings driven by attribution versus your previous approach by reinvesting those funds in more efficient keywords.

If your goal is over an extended period of time, think about a using a test and control methodology. This approach involves choosing a channel you’d like to measure, such as online display, and creating a control group for one set of ads (Group A) and a test group for another set of ads (Group B). Start by optimizing ads in both the control and test groups (Group A and Group B) using your current metrics over a given period of time to establish a baseline. Then, perform the test again over a designated “test period,” this time using your current metrics to optimize ads in the control group (Group A), and using attributed metrics to optimize ads in the test group (Group B). This will enable you to analyze the lift over baseline for ads optimized with current metrics (Group A) and ads optimized with attributed metrics (Group B) to see which performed better.

3) Analyze Results, Fine Tune, and Roll Out Across All Media
Once your test is complete, it’s time to analyze the results. If your goal was not met, or the results were insufficient, don’t fret. Use the initial test as a learning experience to fine-tune your approach. Revisit the goal you established at the outset to make sure it’s measureable and actionable. If not, consider modifying your goal and testing again. If your initial test/control method didn’t show the expected results, consider conducting the test over a longer period of time or finding other channels or campaigns you want to test.

If you find that your initial goal was met, then continue to move forward, conducting tests using attributed metrics across larger sets of channels and tactics. If all of these tests prove successful, not only will you have built confidence in your marketing attribution solution and the metrics it produces, but you’ll also be well on your way to maximizing the effectiveness of your entire marketing portfolio.

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