Why is Attribution Important in Marketing?
The rise of performance marketing, where marketers earn money in a way that is directly tied to marketing performance, has led to some awkward questions about marketing attribution. Why is attribution important in marketing?
How performance marketing ties into marketing attribution
How do you precisely determine which ad led to a particular sale? These questions have important implications when it comes to correct attribution for performance marketing. Below are some strategies that can be used to help successfully track and tie marketing efforts to sales.
The attribution window (also known as the ‘lookback window’) is used to define the length of time between a user seeing an ad and making a purchase attributed to that ad. The online ad industry standard is 30 days, though this can differ significantly depending on the product. For high-value items, this window is often necessary to factor in the length of time a user may take to research options and make a purchasing decision.
The attribution window is not a particularly sophisticated method of marketing attribution, as it can be hard to pinpoint specific marketing efforts if multiple campaigns are ongoing or overlap at all. The attribution window can be used by itself to determine marketing attribution, or it can be combined with other options to more directly attribute marketing performance.
Tracking SKUs and adjacent SKUs
Product SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit)can easily be tied to online ads, but SKUs similar to that ad should also be considered for marketing attribution. Variations on product upsell and cross-selling may occur due to a user clicking on an ad for a similar but different SKU.
It can be industry-specific, and some advertisers are very strict about SKU relations. Still, it can be reasonably expected for particular products or industries to fairly attribute multiple SKUs to the purchase of a different SKU.
For example, a user may click on an ad for a 50-inch TV from a particular brand. They may purchase that TV or look at several different models from the same brand and make a purchasing decision based on some other factor such as size or energy efficiency. In these instances, there is still a reasonable argument for tying performance marketing to a particular ad even if it is not the same SKU as the one purchased.
Views vs. clicks
One of the more contentious points for performance marketing-based attribution is whether views or clicks are counted for attribution. Is it fair to attribute a sale of a particular SKU to an ad for that SKU, even if the deal did not directly come from clicking the ad? This ties into the concept of the attribution window in many cases.
Users who view an ad may not make a purchasing decision immediately after seeing the ad, but in time, decide to purchase a particular product due to the ad’s influence. Therefore, performance marketers must ask the question: do you tie marketing attribution to views or clicks?
Research has shown that post-view conversions are often overlooked and highly valuable for marketing and brand recognition purposes. It is why many ad campaigns are spread across several different social media sites and ad networks. Not only does this increased exposure, but it also helps remarketing efforts. Some users may only make a purchasing decision after viewing ads several times across multiple channels.
Attribution Important in Marketing
When it comes to marketing attribution, the rule of thumb is that post-click conversions trump post-view conversions. It’s far simpler and more accessible to tie sales to clicks than to views directly, so in ambiguous cases, post-click conversions are typically favored.
However, post-view conversions are also of significant value to performance marketers. Attention should be paid to these conversions as part of the fair assessment of performance marketing-based marketing attribution.