January 04, 2021

Attribution and Fraud

Stop what you are doing and read this tweet storm ... right now (click here).

I won't give away the plot ... you need to click on the link and read it for yourself.

I will say, however, that I continually see awful attribution solutions. I'll look at email mail/holdout tests, catalog mail/holdout tests, or experiments where the search budget is gutted for a month and observe that almost nothing changes when ad dollar investments are reduced. And yet? Vendors (and client Professionals who'd rather side with vendors than with their own p&l and yes that happens all the time) keep telling my clients that all these dollars are not wasted.

I spent one (1) year in the retargeting world (way back in calendar 2000) ... working for a retargeting startup. I witnessed the half of the employee base who acted with integrity, and I witnessed the half of the employee base who'd lie, cheat, steal, threaten employees, have relationships with various employees, and do just about anything awful to keep the dollars flowing. Too often, the awful half trumped the half with integrity.

Years ago, I wrote a booklet about holding your vendors accountable. I sold four (4) copies of the book. 


And when I'd bring the topic up on my blog, I'd get just as much criticism from client-based marketers as I'd get from vendors. Heck, I spoke at a conference about holding vendors accountable, and the client-side attendees chided me after the talk. That was a surprise.

Something needs to change.

You could be the person who acts with honesty and integrity, electing to protect your CFO. Why can't that person be you?

P.S.: One of my favorite moments of vendor fraud happened in a catalog mail/holdout test. The client didn't mail catalogs for three months. The vendor attributed 80%(ish) of the orders in the holdout panel to mailed catalogs ... even though the client didn't mail those customers a single catalog for three months. Let that one sink in. And when the fraud was discovered, the client chose to not change the attribution algorithm. Also let that one sink in. Rampant vendor fraud requires a willing client base to make the process work.

P.P.S.:  Follow this woman, please (click here). And subscribe to her newsletter here.

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