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Making Love to Big Data With Attribution

How can multichannel marketers best identify customers’ true path to purchase?

Sexuality and lovemaking are the most intimate experiences in life, but we don’t talk about them. In media, we don’t discuss attribution because it’s new and understandably awkward—just like making love for the first time. But there are parallels to both, and we’re going to talk about them right here:

1. Both love and conversion are paths – In the Complete Idiots Guide to Tantric Sex, author Dr. Judy Kuriansky focuses on lovemaking as a “path” versus focusing on the end point or “climax.” Marketing attribution is today’s revelation that consumers don’t suddenly convert after seeing their first ad, much in the same way that orgasms just don’t happen. Both take time and both are a journey of stimuli, not based solely on the last stimulus.

2. To look good naked you have to be seen – It’s been scientifically proven that women and men get aroused just seeing their partner naked (measured by breath, heart rate, and skin temperature). The same is true in media. For brand awareness to even begin, ads have to be viewable. Desire begins with the eyes, just as ads have to be in view. To ignore this basic premise of advertising (viewable impressions in the online world) is like ignoring the premise of love: It begins with the eyes.

3. Cleanliness matters in Big Data, not size – Due to the prevalence of last-click attribution, media partners jump in at the last second in an attempt to win conversion through a number of methods (e.g., cookie stuffing) and the data just gets bigger. Without cleaning up this “dirty data” via conversion controls (i.e., removing media touchpoints that don’t belong in your conversion funnel), an analyst running attribution could draw very wrong conclusions and allocate budget to the wrong media partner.

The same is true for ads not being seen.

When the majority of display ads are not viewable, an analyst without the ability to match conversions to viewability is forced to give credit to all ads, whether or not the ads have been seen. Viewable conversion technology cleans up the data by removing any display ads from the conversion paths that have not been seen, allowing analysts to do their best work.

4. Position matters – When it comes to attribution for Big Data, position matters. But position importance is different for everyone. For a car company, the first media stimuli (i.e., the Originator) are very important because that car buyer may not be in the market again for seven more years. For a clothing company, that buyer will be back in the market for clothing in two months, and the importance of the Originator is different for them. Position matters in the attribution funnel because consumers move in order: from awareness to interest, to desire, to action. But the value of how things start and flow varies for different brands.

5. Experimentation – Let’s be honest, variety is the spice of life. Once you’re making love to Big Data with attribution, it’s time to do some things you might not have done before: Multichannel.

Now you can experiment with touchpoints like online video, and with channels and creative you’ve never used, or used in the past but couldn’t pinpoint the impact. Embrace a little experimentation.

Let’s make some love—in marketing, in media, and in life.


Frank Guzzardo, C3 Metrics

During the 1980s Frank Guzzardo worked at Technicolor, where he aspired to be a cinematographer. However, he found little romance in the life of a starving artist and began working on Wall Street. When he answered an ad in The New York Times for something called an online ad network, he found himself in his current fi eld, where he’s presently the chief revenue officer at C3 Metrics. Since then, he has spent a decade spreading the gospel of ad networks at BlueLithium, ValueClick, and Yahoo. He helped spearhead Yahoo’s certification of its first and only Full Funnel Attribution vendor C3 Metrics, after experiencing firsthand knowledge of revenue increases seen by display, search, and advertisers’ overall ad spend. Guzzardo describes himself as “the last of the great walkers,” whether wandering the streets of New York or the beaches of Long Island.

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