Search force multi-channel_attributions_may2012


Published on

Creating an accurate attribution model is one of the most difficult parts of any search marketer’s job,
particularly in light of the proliferation of new media channels and audience fragmentation.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Search force multi-channel_attributions_may2012

  1. 1. UnderstandingMulti-Channel AttributionBest Practices for AttributionStrategy & ModelingA Digital Marketing Depot Research Report
  2. 2. Understanding Multi-Channel Attribution Understanding Multi-Channel Attribution Best Practices for Attribution Strategy & Modeling IntroductionM any digital marketers manage their PPC campaigns as though clicks and conversions take place within a silo, disconnected and unrelated to the customer engagement that occurs across multiple channels. PPC campaigns are actually tightly interwoven with broader marketing programs that reach prospects andcustomers over the entire customer lifecycle, whether on a website, through social media accessed on a mobiledevice, in store or on the phone.Viewing PPC campaigns within the broader context of lifetime customer relationships, and attributing thisinformation to bid rates and ROI calculations across channels, is crucial to your company’s bottom line. Moreaccurate attribution allows you to make more effective media buys, which ultimately lead to greater profits. Itcan help you more effectively measure your performance against broad objectives, not just against individualcampaigns and keywords.Yet, creating an accurate attribution model is one of the most difficult parts of any search marketer’s job,particularly in light of the proliferation of new media channels and audience fragmentation. There are manyquestions that are difficult to answer, including: • What role did prior website referrals, searches and ads play in a conversion? • Which metrics should be attributed and how? • How much time passed between the consumer’s initial click and subsequent purchase? • What tools are currently available to help us identify and weight these factors?The answers come from a combination of PPC software tools that can implement advanced modeling techniquesand the people or partners that know how to make them work.This EBook discusses why multi-channel attribution has become increasingly important to search marketers andexplores the advantages of using multi-channel attribution to improve the efficiency of PPC marketing programs,as well as how to build an accurate multi-channel attribution model. Digital Marketing Depot and SearchForcewould like to thank the following SearchEngineLand columnists and industry experts for their valuablecontributions to this EBook: David Roth, senior director, search marketing, Yahoo!; Greg Sterling; George Michie,CEO, Rimm-Kaufman Group; and Dax Hamman, Chief Revenue Officer, Chango.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 2 Email:
  3. 3. Understanding Multi-Channel AttributionThe Value of Multi-Channel Attribution According toWhile paid search has become a key driver of online conversions, the proliferation digital researchof digital marketing channels has created complex interrelationships that canonly be understood with advanced technology. Consumers often browse across firm eMarketer,different media channels before they decide to identify themselves as a prospector become a customer. Each channel plays a different role in how it influences the mobile ad spendingpath that leads to a conversion. For example, many people may purchase on yoursite after searching for your brand on Google or Bing. However, they may have will grow tobeen introduced to your brand via a blog or Facebook brand page, or while seeinga product in the store or after viewing an offline ad in print or on TV. nearly $1.23 billion in 2012, whileAd spending is increasing across digital marketing channels as marketers tryto identify and entice their prospects and customers across a widening array of social network admedia choices – a task that has become increasingly difficult. According to digitalresearch firm eMarketer, mobile ad spending will grow to nearly $1.23 billion in spending will reach2012, while social network ad spending will reach $8.0 billion. $8.0 billion.As a result, multi-touch or multi-channel attribution modeling has become a criticaltool for search marketers by offering the following bottom-line benefits: • Better understanding of the relationship dynamics between diverse media channels and the objectives that are best suited for each. • More accurate analysis and measurement of PPC contribution to offline conversions. • Less A/B testing costs, as attribution systems help defray the cost of ongoing testing. • Improved management of paid search bids based on which keywords actually close and which assist the close. • A holistic, multi-channel marketing approach that eliminates silos and maximizes ROI.The Move Away from Last-Click AttributionSearch marketers continue to debate the merits of last-click vs. multi-touch or multi-channel attribution models.While last-click models emphasize search that occurs deep into the purchase funnel, increasingly, PPC conversionsare influenced by a series of online clicks and offline searches that happen a few hours, days or weeks earlier.Without tracking and analyzing multiple touch points, you can’t get the true ROI of your marketing dollars. As aresult, you might not be fully optimizing your marketing initiatives. According to Microsoft’s Atlas Institute, between93-95% of audience engagements with digital advertising typically receive no credit at all when marketers reviewcampaign ROI. That means that most marketers are only looking at five percent to seven percent of consumer mediainteractions when optimizing conversions.According to a report published by Slingshot SEO in March 2012, the value and potential priority of various digitalmarketing channels change when marketers use a multi-touch attribution model, and that many marketers areplacing too much emphasis on the last click as well as the first click in the stream of consumer interactions. As aresult, channels such as SEO, paid ads and referrals were being undervalued. On average, consumers took 2.79interactions before converting, and the last click before the conversion was typically a direct visit to the site or abranded keyword search.A multi-touch attribution model allows you to track all user touch points and capture more complete informationabout their interactions with your brands. The key is to track all of your digital media in one system, allowing you tosee all of the pathways users took to ultimately convert.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 3 Email:
  4. 4. Understanding Multi-Channel AttributionFor example, SearchForce features Pathtracker Pixel,™ a universal pixel thataccurately tracks cross-channel events or interactions in the proper sequence. Some searchConsider a scenario where a consumer views a display ad on Monday, clicks asponsorship on Tuesday, receives an email from on Wednesday, and comes back marketers believeon Friday via a paid search ad and converted. Multi-touch attribution assigns that a last-clickcredit to the entire conversion pathway, not just the last ad clicked. model is the mostMulti-touch attribution models are difficult to develop and make effectiveprimarily because there are so many variables involved. How do you decide effective because thewhat percentage of the conversion value to give to the first interaction vs. thelast when you need to consider the following factors: search occurs closer • Should ad impressions be weighted the same as clicks? to the conversion. • Are clicks from search worth the same as clicks from Facebook? • How does recency effect attribution? Is a click that happened 12 days ago still worth anything?Some search marketers believe that a last-click model is the most effective because the search occurs closer to theconversion. But last-click attribution models don’t follow consumers over extended time periods, or consider thevariety of online influencers such as email, direct navigation, display ads or even organic search (SEO).As a result, a significant portion of the inaccuracies and oversimplifications involved in attributing digital mediachannels for conversions comes from only counting the last click. If more than one keyword was clicked on the pathto a conversion, did those previous clicks “assist” in that conversion or lead the prospect into your sales funnel? Ifso, they should be given some credit. Other keywords function well as “closers,” and convince prospects to takeaction. Relying on the last click as a benchmark for success means you could be under-investing in other media thatactually improve results.Creating an Effective Multi-Channel Attribution ModelStrategy Comes FirstThe successful use of multi-channel attribution first requires a well-planned strategy that includes managementbuy-in, evaluation of staff resources and a robust PPC technology platform. Data can only be as smart as the peopleinterpreting it. Employing an attribution specialist to lead the effort is ideal, although not always doable. Yourmarketing organization should conduct an exhaustive analysis of your business and online marketing programs.Begin with your business goals and product adoption cycles, move on to conversion window analysis and end witha channel-by-channel audit of both online and offline marketing.It is important for statisticians to work hand-in-hand with marketers. Mathematicians without guidance frommarketing experience will build the wrong types of models. Marketers recognize the role that consumer behaviorplays in the correlations between different types of marketing interactions and conversion success.While some attribution models may be mathematically sound, without buy-in from other departments beyondthe analytics group, they will not be used properly or at all. This is particularly true for large organizations wheremarketing channels may be managed across a diverse set of departments and budgets. Many businesses splitmanagement of channels across multiple teams and incentivize marketing managers on performance leading tointernal competition for the same conversions.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 4 Email:
  5. 5. Understanding Multi-Channel AttributionNot All Marketing Touches Are EqualEach marketing impression or touch in the conversion path has a Three Multi-Channelunique value – and few, if any, are equal. A thirty-second TV spot, aquality visit to your website, a walk through your brick-and-mortar Attribution Strategiesbusiness are significantly more valuable impressions than exposure toa print, display or text advertisement. 1. Multi-Channel Attribution Across Digital Channels.A paid or organic link on a SERP for a competitive non-brand search The effort to understand whichis much more likely to drive incremental business than traffic from digital marketing channels, i.e.,someone searching for “YourTradeMark Coupons” and coming through social, display, video, referrals, email,an affiliate. What creates value is learning what lift can be credited to search, contributed to a particulareach impression, not which ads consumers were exposed to. These conversion (or multiple conversions).touches shouldn’t all be treated the same, and good attribution systemsneed to understand and identify those distinctions. 2. Multi-Channel Attribution Across Multiple Screens.When solving for attribution, you need to determine the “influence With the massive adoption of mobilepotential” of each ad click, impression and site visit by considering the phones and tablets, consumers arefollowing factors: increasingly “four-screen” people (TV, desktop, tablets, and smart • Ad timing phones). That has directly translated • Ad decay rate into a more complex fragmented • Conversion influence landscape leading to the • Products sold effort to understand how individuals • Dollar amount spent experience your brand’s digital • First-time vs. repeat buyer existence across multiple devices.With this in mind, you can build a model the will predict consumer 3. Multi-Channel Attribution,decisions as accurately as possible. While human behavior can be difficult Online to measure, you can build and test an attribution model that factors in the The effort to understand the offline‘how’ and ‘where’ someone encountered your product or ad. impact driven by online marketing and advertising. For example,Then, test the results of your attribution model. If the model -- which conversions (i.e., sales, leads orattributes the predicted behavior to the previous action -- matches the catalog requests) driven to a retailresults, then your model works. If not, you’ll need to tweak it and test store or company call center by theagain. website, Facebook brand page or Twitter account.Weighting Attribution Factors Source: Occam’s Razor blog byA consumer’s path to conversion is unique for every business. It is Avinash Kaushikcrucial to set attribution weights accordingly to clarify how variousmarketing channels – including online and offline media – interact toallow your optimization engine to leverage these insights to your advantage.Even within each marketing channel, it is important to gather the following channel-specific data to identify the truevalue of a click from that channel. • Clicks • Conversions • Average Order Value (to normalize the effect of large orders that can skew data) • Number of Channels per conversionClicks and average order value can come directly from analytics or the channel tool. Conversion counts come fromisolating the number of conversions attributed to the channel by dividing the number of conversions by the numberof unique channels associated with each conversion.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 5 Email:
  6. 6. Understanding Multi-Channel AttributionTo understand how different marketing channels influence conversions, begin by looking at standard metrics suchas CTR (clickthrough) and CPA (cost per account), as well as engagement metrics from incoming website traffic suchas time on site, pages visited and the time it takes to convert. It is also helpful to conduct incremental lift studiesto evaluate the percentage of interaction from each channel that is incremental or provides an “assist” to anotherchannel’s role in conversion.Search technology can enable these capabilities. The SearchForce platform, for example, provides the followingthree basic schemes for assigning credit to each click within a conversion path: • Percentage attribution. With this option, marketers can specify a percentage that’s attributed to the first and/ or last click in the path to conversion. Any remaining credit is distributed to all clicks between the first and last. This approach works best for campaigns that generally don’t exceed three to four clicks, because you will be distributing some credit to mid-stream clicks without spreading them too thinly across too many clicks. • Relative attribution. This method allows marketers to specify a relative decrease in credit based on a click’s position in the path, i.e., the credit assigned to a specific click is less for clicks near the beginning of the path. If you set this percentage to zero, credit will be attributed equally among all clicks. This option is appropriate for strategies that value the benefit of the last click more highly than others, but still want to assign some credit to earlier clicks. • Custom attribution. This approach provides the flexibility to set specific percentages for each individual click in the path. This option is a good choice for campaigns in which each click makes a unique contribution to a conversion, and you want to make sure that these clicks each receive a specific credit instead of simply redistributing the remaining credit from other clicks.7 Metrics to Link Digital Clicks to In-Store SalesResearch shows that a growing number of consumers use multiple channels to make purchase decisions. Accordingto The Multi-Channel Retail Report, co-sponsored by J.C. Williams Group, and, 26% ofconsumers that visit a store looking for a product subsequently buy that item from a catalog; another 25% ofconsumers that visit a store subsequently purchase the product online. In addition, more than two-thirds of catalogshoppers ultimately purchase a product online, while 39% of website browsers purchase a product from a printcatalog.Here are seven metrics to help you accurately track the relationship between online and offline channels. 1. Online/offline orders and pick-ups. Track customers who searched and purchased online, then picked up their purchases in your brick-and-mortar stores. 2. Store locator pages. Provide relevant information like “find a store near you,” store hours, directions and phone numbers in all of your digital campaigns. 3. Time spent on website. The more time someone spends on your website, the more likely they’re interested in your product or service. Don’t get “too good” at driving online searchers to physical stores; improve your conversion marketing so the customer is spending more than just his or her time online. 4. Queries with geographic qualifiers. Some queries containing geographic qualifiers indicate offline purchase intent. For example, if someone is searching for a “dentist in West Vancouver” they’re more than likely looking for a dental appointment in a particular geographic location. 5. Local search. Some Yellow Pages advertisers use dedicated phone numbers for their campaigns. Try doing the same on the search side. If not, you’re not adequately tracking the campaign’s impact. 6. Promo codes. Create coupons or other online-specific promotion that’s only redeemable in the store (if appropriate). Customers can write down or print special codes that they can redeem in-store. 7. Post-purchase surveys. After consumers make online purchases, ask for their feedback through a post-purchase survey to get more information on buying behavior and offline impact.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 6 Email:
  7. 7. Understanding Multi-Channel AttributionConclusionThe growing interrelationship between marketing channels is creating new and exciting challenges for searchmarketers. Every brand wants to find the most effective, profitable marketing mix for its products and servicesacross all channels. The struggle is to monetize paid search, in terms of accurately measuring its impact on salesand customer engagement. While this is not a difficult concept to grasp, it is difficult to break down the problem intoactionable tactics that can be readily applied to your PPC programs.Designing an appropriate attribution model can be complex, but with the right conversion tracking technology,and by following a set of best practices, you can use conversion data to your advantage to boost performance andunderstand your sales channels with more precision and clarity. While there is no standard set of models that willmake sense for every marketer, you can develop a consistent attribution framework that can be applied to eachbusiness problem that will positively affect campaign results.Remember, multi-channel attribution is no longer a luxury. It is an essential tool for drilling down into conversionpaths to help you optimize performance and determine which strategies work best to create more profit andrevenue. nAbout SearchForceSince 2004, SearchForce has been a pioneer in delivering high performance search marketing tools. The companyoffers advertisers and agencies one online platform to effectively manage large-scale paid marketing campaignsacross all search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook and more.In addition to bid optimization and campaign management, SearchForce offers cross channel attribution for a moreaccurate view on paths to conversion, plus a localized platform that supports multiple languages, time zones andcurrencies. Learn more at http://www.searchforce.comHeadquarters:3 Waters Park DriveSuite 211San Mateo, CA 94403Telephone: (650) 235-8800Fax: (650) 312-8661NY Office:27 West 24th StreetSuite 704New York, NY 10010Telephone: (212) 255-8399Fax: (212) 255-8395 Digital Marketing Depot provides authoritative and actionable education about digital marketing issues. Register today for one of our free webcasts or download a whitepaper or research report about paid search advertising, analytics, e-mail marketing and other and digital marketing topics. Digital Marketing Depot is a division of Third Door Media, which publishes web sites, and produces in-person events and webcasts. Each of the four brands - Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Expo, Digital Marketing Depot, and Marketing Land - fosters continuing education, evolution and engagement for the community we serve.© 2012 Third Door Media, Inc. • 7 Email: