Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Unraveling Marketing Attribution

Marketing Attribution is one of those very tough marketing problems that’s been around for a long time, yet few have truly figured it out. In more traditional marketing speak it’s known as Marketing Mix modeling, but it really comes down to understanding which marketing efforts have an impact on your customers and your bottom line. At Forrester, I defined Multi-Campaign Attribution in the digital world as: The practice of attributing credit to all marketing exposures that led to a Web site and subsequently resulted in a conversion event, rather than attributing all credit to the exposure immediately preceding the conversion.

But the big secret behind Marketing Attribution is that there is no tool that will get you all the way there. No switch can be flipped where Attribution appears from the vapor. There simply is no panacea for Attribution that will resolve all your troubles. Instead Attribution requires a great deal of work. It’s a method for analyzing data in not just one way but in three ways. It also requires expertise that consists of complex analysis and a relentless drive to continually explain an unconscionable process to non-marketers. Moreover, the outcome of Attribution generally creates animosity within organizations because it can rob credit from seemingly heroic efforts and deliver it to unsung heroes.

Yuk! Sounds like something you want to skip and leave for somebody else right? The problem is that Marketing Attribution is critically important. Right now accountability is at an all time high. Organizations are looking for budget areas to trim and programs to drop. Attribution can illuminate what’s working and oust the sleeping dogs among your marketing efforts. It can save programs that don’t appear to contribute but really lead profitable customers to your site. It can also identify where the greatest ROI comes from and which programs need to be accelerated for accomplishing your objectives. Attribution can propel you to superstar status within your company.

So how do you get started? There are a ton of great resources out there including a Forrester report that will soon publish on Marketing Attribution. John Marshall and his crew at Market Motive published a great video series on Attribution. Microsoft’s Young-Bean Song at the Atlas Institute is tackling the problem from an ad serving perspective with their “Engagement Mapping” solution. And ClearSaleing’s Attribution guru, Adam Goldberg, has been hosting forums to educate and reach consensus on quantifying attribution.

But if you want the final word on Attribution, tune into the Webinar sponsored by Coremetrics that will feature me and Eric Peterson called “Effectively Managing Your Online Marketing Mix with Advanced Attribution”. Tomorrow at 1:00 ET we, along with John Squire of Coremetrics, will paint the landscape for Attribution. We will identify the issues and set the standard for comprehending Attribution. Best of all, we’ll both offer tactical advice for getting started. While we may not fully agree on our methods, we do concur that Attribution is a necessary process.

So, if you are charged with unraveling the riddle of attribution, start with any of these resources, sign up for the Webinar, or drop me a line to find out more.