Attribution Today: What Advertisers Need to Know

Attribution Tracking in Digital Marketing

Source: Adobe Attribution

Studying 11 different advertisers in the retail sector, here are some common “how to” best practices around attribution tracking strategy and execution:

 

Approaches:

  • Last click (still dominant)
  • Algorithmic
  • First click
  • Hybrid model

 

What’s included in the attribution model?

  1. Paid search/display
  2. Organic / non paid / social
  3. Affiliate / referral

 

Attribution timeframes commonly tracked:

  • 30 mins
  • Less than 6 hours
  • 7-24 hours
  • 25 hours – 7 days
  • 7-29 days
  • 30 days+

Only 8% of advertisers factor in viewability.

 

Attribution tracking has three parts:

  • Campaign management – tag management systems, ad servers, ad view-ability measurement.
  • Analytics – web analytics, attribution pure players (adclear, encore)
  • Consultants – agencies and management companies who interpret and manage this data effectively.

 

Alternative methods:

  • Second opinion (about 15% of advertisers use this)
  • A/B tests (about 28% of advertisers you this model)

Mobile came sooner than anticipated by most. It breaks the tracking continuums thus making it difficult or advertisers to accurately report user behaviour.

 

Here are a few additional thoughts:

  • Companies are used to last click models and find it hard to move away from the internal systems that support this. Companies are forced to build a business case to showcase the reason behind moving to a different model all together.
  • Companies struggle with fitting the advanced tracking technologies with older internal technology integrations. The change is accepted and needed, but time and cost for technical transition remains a barrier.
  • Companies need to understand that in order to remain competitive this change is inevitable. Gradual analysis per channel is the way most companies are dealing with this.
  • There seems to be a disconnect between theory and effective execution and real life comprehension of data. Affiliates have to prove their value which could make them earn less, but on the flip side, if they can prove their value, then they can earn more.
  • Unless you’re accurately testing the data and understanding it correctly, you’re taking a gut feeling guess from one channel and putting it into another channel. With the time commitment to proper attribution tracking, the guess work is removed and true ROI realized.
  • More effort needs to be put into AB testing affiliate sites and advertiser landing pages and campaigns.
  • Companies need to consider the differences in tracking mechanisms, such as the accuracy of cookie tracking, and what alternatives need to be considered.
  • Mobile tracking and desktop tracking are VERY different from each other and we need to consider the behavioural and technological changes to accurately track new buyer behaviour.
  • Even though both advertisers and publishers would benefit from transparency around attribution data, both affiliates and merchants tend to keep the information to themselves. This mindset will eventually need to shift if the affiliate industry is going to be successful long term.
  • How do we bring offline data into the mix? This is an ongoing challenge people are still trying to understand industry wide.

What are your thoughts on attribution tracking and affiliate/merchant participation in data sharing?

How To Remove the Reliance on Incentive Sites

affiliate cashback sitesOf the 9 Billion pound per year affiliate marketing industry in the UK:

  • 31% comes from cashback sites
  • 17% comes from coupon sites
  • 17% comes from loyalty /reward sites

The difference come from:

  • Price comparison
  • Paid search
  • Content
  • Other (such as email marketing)

 

So how do we remove the reliance on incentive sites?

Here are a few tips to help:

  • Focus on quality vs quantity buyers. Consider the lifetime value of buyers that come in through different affiliate channels and focus your time and resources on the ones that are the highest value.
  • Attribution tracking will help you understand where the value is, however based on several UK studies, cashback sites DO in fact bring in high value buyers that are authentic incremental value leads. The “skimming” that existed amounts cash-back and loyalty sites was much lower than expected when attribution assessments were completed.
  • Changing the focus from the type of affiliate to the type of  buyer will help to determine how to best utilize affiliate groups to reach different buyers during their buying cycle.
  • Have an existing process for your segmented affiliate groups to offer tools and resources that will make them more successful. Management can’t be a one fit wonder for everyone, so customizing based on specific affiliate needs will bring more success to different groups outside of strictly incentive site successes.
  • Consistently provide quality content and invest in quality resources, tools and creatives to affiliate types you want to see the most growth in. You have to be proactive about it and put the effort in.
  • Be approachable so affiliates can easily communicate how they can help you, the advertiser, more, leveraging their skill sets and assets. Sometimes your own approachability and availability is the only roadblock keeping you from increased sales.
  • Try to understand your affiliates data and work closely with them to be transparent and understand KPIs and metrics. Be open to being transparent with your data before an affiliate will be open to sharing theirs. Work closely together to build trust and synergy which will lead to making better decisions as partners.
  • Offer exclusive codes and incentives on other types of sites other than incentive sites, such as on blog posts or within affiliate email lists.
  • Look at the DNA of your business and understand how different affiliate groups help your overall brand presence, exposure and consumer engagements.
  • Be sure to dedicate enough resources to your affiliate team to build relationships, negotiate placements, create tools and monitor opportunities. If you do not have the resources in house, consider outsourcing an extension to your team, such as the-la-cart or full service affiliate management support services offered by Outsourced Program Management companies.

Exclusive Interview with SEO & Affiliate Marketing Legend, Rae “SugarRae” Hoffman

Rae (Sugar Rae) Hoffman of PushFire

Rae (Sugar Rae) Hoffman of PushFire

I recently had the privilege of spending some personal time with SEO and Performance Marketing legend, Rae “SugarRae” Hoffman of PushFire.

I wanted to get to know her more, having watched her over the last few years, reading her blog and admiring the woman she is, both as a mother and a business owner.

She was wonderful in answering my very personal questions and I appreciated her genuine answers and heartfelt replies.

Exclusive Interview with Rae “SugerRae” Hoffman: 

 

Q. You’ve accomplished an incredible amount in your life and you have much to be proud of. What would you say are your top three most precious accomplishments either personally or professionally?

LOL, thanks. You know, it’s funny – I really had to think on this one because looking at individual past accomplishments isn’t something I do often – neither on a personal level or a professional one. I think sometimes I’m so busy moving forward I don’t have much time to look back. That said… On a personal level it would have to be being a mom. Cliché, yes. Campy, yes. True, yes. I had nothing when my first child was born. My oldest son was severely multiply handicapped – both mentally and physically. By the time I was 27 (which was nine years ago) I was a newly divorced, single mom of 3 until I got remarried about three years ago. Being able to raise them on my own – without any outside financial support and without any financial struggle despite my oldest son’s needs – while still being able to be an “active mom” to them is the thing I’m most proud of at the end of the day. I like to think I’ve shown my kids you can do anything if you work hard and don’t see failure as an option.

On a professional level, it is so hard to pinpoint one specific event. I think for me, it’s the entire gamut of going from foster kid to CEO and every single step that occurred between. It’s very hard to pinpoint one individual thing because it was such a long series of steps, milestones and occurrences that got me from there to here. But, at the end of the day, I like to believe that never losing site of “who I am” through it all is something to be proud of. I’ve seen success ruin so many personalities over the course of my career. I’d like to think I’m the same personality wise today I was 10+ years ago – with a little more confidence, LOL. And I actually do my best to keep myself surrounded by people who have no problem “checking me” when needed vs. “yes men” so to speak.

Lastly, I think I’m pretty proud of making the decision to partner with Sean and build PushFire. Being able to create a company that is independent of relying on me as an individual is something I’m pretty stoked to be doing. I handle managing the SEO side of things while Sean focuses on the PPC side. We have the same values as far as our number one priority being to deliver ROI to the client. It’s not about how much money we can make ourselves – it’s about how much money we can make the client.

 

Q. From someone who specializes in Search Marketing what do you like and dislike most about the performance marketing industry?

The thing I like the most is the independence of it. As an affiliate, I answer to no one except my own bank account. I work when I want to and my revenue potential is directly tied to how hard I’m willing to work for it – but it’s done on my own terms.

The thing I dislike to most is the negative opinion on our industry fueled by ignorance and some “bad apples” who will promote anything, in any way, honest or not, to make a buck. I hate that the legitimate, value add, honest affiliates out there are often undervalued and underrated for the benefits they bring to a merchant.

 

Q. What do you find are the greatest challenges retailers are facing today around SEO and PPC efforts?

Ha. The challenges are plentiful. Google removing the ability to track keyword referrals from organic search is a huge, huge issue in the SEO side of online marketing right now. It makes tracking the success and value of SEO campaigns so much harder – in addition to making it an uphill battle to identify and rectify SEO related issues on the keyword level. Their Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates – and the lack of transparency around them – creates a lot of collateral damage that seems to be ignored. Figuring out if any of the above is affecting you is easy. Understanding how to rectify it – not so much if you’re not completely immersed in the world of SEO.

PPC isn’t my specialty. But, from what I see relating to PushFire PPC clients, I think a lot of people simply aren’t utilizing PPC to their fullest advantage. For instance, if merchants are running PPC campaigns but aren’t involved in (smart) remarketing – they’re missing out. Same goes for merchants who aren’t running PLA when their target search results have big emphasis on those listings. Setting PPC and then forgetting it – instead of optimizing the hell out of it on a continual basis.

 

Q. What three recommendations can you make to retailers preparing for Q4 shopping season right now?

Understand the “SEO ship” has already sailed for Q4. You can’t begin working on improving SEO efforts in late Q3 and expect to see any ranking miracles occur in time for Q4. If improving SEO for Q4 is a priority, it’s one that needs to be addressed no later than Q2.

If you don’t have your remarketing efforts for PPC integrated into your checkout process, get it done. Example: Someone put an item in their cart, but didn’t complete the checkout process. This is obviously someone “warm” to you, but for whatever reason they didn’t complete the sale – so maybe you decide to remarket them with an offer for free shipping or a discount code to sweeten the deal.

Get your affiliates updated creatives and create some sales increase incentives for your top affiliates to help them kick ass for you over the holiday season. Also, not specific to Q4 per se, but, if you don’t have the ability for affiliates to deep link within your site, I’d heavily suggest considering it. My conversion rates as an affiliate are much higher when I can link to a specific product page versus merely linking to a homepage or category page.

 

Q. What are three things you’d absolutely love to do in your life that you have yet to accomplish?

You like making me self reflect, LOL!

I’d like to see PushFire on the Inc 5000 list when it’s eligible company age wise. I have a side project I’m working on that I unfortunately can’t release details on yet (sorry) haha.

Lastly, I’m chomping at the bit to get land and move more into the country. Like… 40+ acres with cows, chickens, horses, hay production and four wheeling in our “backyard” country. I am a redneck girl and suburbia isn’t my thing. We wanted to wait until my older children were at or near driving age though before making that move. We’re almost there!

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