October 30, 2014

Attribution Credit

This quote comes up in various forms, all the time.
  • "63% of our orders happen after a customer sees a banner ad or retargeting effort. It's clear that this stuff works."
Alright.

You go in and analyze data, and you see the following trends:
  • Prior to retargeting/banners = $3,000,000 a month average.
  • After retargeting/banner program is initiated = $3,080,000.
Now, you can use control groups to measure your retargeting/banner efforts, but that's no fun when you demonstrate that you didn't generate much volume ... it's better to hand the problem off to an attribution vendor who gives retargeting/banners credit for $400,000 in monthly volume.

In theory, we're trying to prove that our investments work.

Sometimes, I wonder if we're trying to prove that we're valuable?

We are valuable.

I know, it's difficult, because you have a merchant who is under tremendous pressure, and is afraid s/he will be fired.

It's difficult, because the creative team never has quantifiable metrics to prove that their work matters, so they want to make sure that marketing brings them the right traffic - they didn't screw up, marketing screwed up.

It's difficult, because IT strongly believes that a trained monkey could run marketing. I've been in the meetings.

It's difficult, because operations browsed an article in a trade journal about best practices, and wants to know why your department won't employ best practices? I mean, they're "best", right? Don't you want to be the best? Are you stupid? And operations paid for a Woodside Research report, and the report suggests marketing is stupid, so marketers are stupid.

It's difficult, because half the Executive Team is going to get fired if sales don't improve, and they cannot change the merchandise assortment for at least another half-year ... they need marketing to act, NOW!

All that pressure trickles down to marketing.

Is it any wonder marketing wants to prove that they touched every single order?

And the vendors need to prove that everything marketing did touched every single order, because that's how vendors get paid. It's hard to blame anybody.

Too often, attribution credit is a function of pressure, and is not focused on genuine measurement of return on investment. How could it be?

Try to remain unbiased. I know, it's hard to do, but it is necessary.