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Top-Down & Bottom-Up Attribution: Better Together

Volume 5, Issue 8 - August, 2015

Editor, IQ Advisor

Since the early days when advertising first appeared on television, marketing mix modeling (MMM), or econometric modeling, has been the de facto standard for evaluating return on marketing investments. Yet MMM has been getting some pushback in recent years due to its consultative nature, the infrequency of its reporting, the subjectivity of its implementations by practitioners, and its lack of automation. In today’s new era of ‘programmatic everything,’ the need for fast, accurate, and automated reporting is inevitable.

Top-down (TD) attribution provides a powerful alternative, offering a productized and multi-dimensional approach to MMM that automatically delivers optimized recommendations to programmatic buying platforms on a much higher cadence. But while TD attribution provides marketers with high-level insights on how to best allocate spend between channels, marketers also need tactical insights at the publisher, placement, and keyword level in order to truly maximize performance. Advanced bottom-up (BU) attribution provides this deeper insight, enabling marketers to drill down to the most granular level of data in order to make specific and impactful optimization decisions.

So if both TD and BU attribution are valuable tools for measuring marketing impact, which solution is best? The highest returns are gained when TD and BU attribution are used in tandem. When tightly integrated, TD and BU attribution provide a truly comprehensive view of media performance. Here are three compelling reasons why TD and BU are better together:

Complete Cross Channel Intelligence

One of the key differences between TD and BU attribution is that TD utilizes summary level data from offline channels such as TV, radio, and print to analyze and predict performance, whereas BU leverages user-level data from digital channels like online display and paid search. By integrating these capabilities, marketers can easily identify the influences between online and offline channels and tactics, how they work together to drive conversions, and how a change made to one or more of the tactics will impact the performance of the others. Armed with this insight, marketers can make a broad array of strategic decisions (such as how to best distribute their media budget), as well as tactical decisions (such as which particular keywords to bid on) to maximize efficiency and effectiveness across their entire marketing portfolio.

More Frequent Planning & Optimization

A common challenge associated with MMM is that it leverages historical data to provide a distinct “snapshot in time” of marketing. Yet there are many constantly changing factors that can have an impact performance, ranging from seasonal and economic factors (weather, holidays, interest rates, etc.), to competitive activities (changes to media tactics, new product launches, etc.) and business constraints (budget, inventory caps, etc.). A combined TD/BU approach accounts for these variables by creating an ongoing, iterative cycle in which ecosystem changes and constraints are continually recorded and fed back into the process, so marketers always have the most up-to-date insights and analysis to drive their planning and optimization decisions. Moreover, marketers can use these real-time insights to adjust campaigns on the fly via automated connections to programmatic platforms.

Audience Targeting Capabilities

When optimizing their initiatives, marketers need to understand the mix of channels, strategies, and tactics that produce the best return across all prospects, as well as for each specific audience segment. When TD is combined with BU attribution, the demographic and behavioral attributes of customers and prospects are coupled with online and offline performance data, so marketers can uncover previously unidentified, high-value audience segments and automatically target them with the combination of media and tactics that produce the best return.

Today’s marketers are planning sophisticated campaigns that span a variety of online and offline channels. By having both TD and BU attribution in tandem, marketers enjoy a truly unified view of marketing performance, and the ability to deliver results that cannot be replicated by using one approach alone.

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