Studying 11 different advertisers in the retail sector, here are some common "how to" best practices around attribution tracking strategy and execution:
- Last click (still dominant)
- First click
- Hybrid model
What's included in the attribution model?
- Paid search/display
- Organic / non paid / social
- 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.
- 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?