Robust Attribution Solution? Two Capabilities to Check

Volume 2, Issue 8 - August, 2012

Rakesh Pillai, Research Scientist, Visual IQ

Ever since the Barcelona Olympics took place in 1992 I have been a keen follower of the biannual event. Back then, I was glued to the TV watching my favorite sports. Every morning I would spend half an hour with the newspaper to make a list of events I wanted to watch that day. In relative terms, I have hardly followed the London Olympics. But the games seemed to be following me this time. Facebook, Twitter and the Internet in general kept me up to date about the Games like never before. And today this is just as true for brands as it is for the Olympics. Now a brand can keep in touch with a consumer through the multiple media channels with which he regularly interacts as part of his daily routine.

But the interesting part of today’s marketing story is that despite the Internet, social media and the mobile revolution; traditional channels like TV, radio, print, and outdoor still remain relevant. And this multitude of channel choices has made the life of a marketer more difficult. Brands can’t afford to focus on just one or two channels, and many marketers realize that they must adopt cross channel strategies to harness the synergies of multiple channels. Cutting edge marketing attribution software employs advanced machine learning algorithms to come up with optimized media spend recommendations down to the granular level.

You might be already optimizing your cross channel strategy using a marketing attribution management solution. But how robust is the solution you’re using – or the one you are considering? Below are just two of a series of more robust capabilities to consider when selecting a solution:

Quantify the Impact of Your Various Promotional Strategies

Promotion continues to be an important part of the marketing mix. Marketers use promotional strategies to increase the sale of products, reward loyal customers, acquire new customers, create opportunities of upselling, create brand awareness, etc. Most attribution solutions utilize historical data to generate recommendations for future spending. Historically you might see your display and email strategy working very well together. But one of the reasons for this could be that you were offering email coupons to customers who clicked on your display advertisements. If your attribution solution focuses solely on media buys and ignores the effect of promotional coupons, your solution may make the wrong conclusions about the cross channel impact. So it is extremely important for your attribution solution to be able to accommodate variables that identify that a promotion is in market and be able to separately quantify the impact of that promotion.

Quantify the Impact of “External Shocks”

An “external shock” is a change to your marketplace that results from external factors beyond your control, such as a new government regulation, unexpected moves by competition, war, natural disaster etc. These shocks might result in marketing results that are quite different from those you’ve historically experienced – thereby resulting in inaccuracy of the model that’s historically been used to produce spend recommendations. The same creative and cross channel strategies which worked well in the past might not be effective anymore. Two necessary steps to ensure your attribution management solution can adjust to such shocks as quickly and effectively as possible are:

  • Models should be validated each time new marketing performance data is refreshed and the models themselves be updated whenever the validation process identifies an unacceptable margin of error.
  • Models should include variables beyond marketing campaign information, such as macro-economic factors, seasonal factors, business policy changes, pricing, etc.

Add these capabilities as boxes to your attribution management checklist, for when it comes to outperforming your competition, they can be the difference between achieving bronze or gold – or not making it to the podium at all.

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