Jellyfish Forum: Marketing attribution is...?

| 24 Mar, 2014

At the beginning of the month, the Jellyfish US agency invited several of the area’s leading marketing executives to a forum discussion on marketing attribution.


As one of the most talked about issues among marketers today, it seemed timely to host an intimate dialogue on the topic and how it is being handled and leveraged across an array of verticals. What resulted was a vibrant conversation that not only validated its importance, but uncovered a shared misconception on the definition of attribution and an urgency with how to get it initiated in an organization.

Maybe marketing attribution is actually just an evolution of measurement
There is no perfect model or even set of models. Not surprisingly, the solution is unique to each business, their budget, and their conversion cycles - with the immediate obstacles commonly being the aggregation of data and finding the most insightful way to report on it.

Pros and cons can certainly be weighed against data-driven or rules-based models and the painful determination of which approach is most accurate. But the ultimate goal with attribution is to uncover a more relevant view of the customer journey. That requires an evolution of not only the use of data in measurement, but also what activity and performance should be measured, and how much of it is applicable. Can emerging data platforms and real-time visibility be useful in accomplishing this?

Start with what you are already doing and the data you are already collecting. Just start
More than likely, your organization is already using data to determine the impact and value of marketing activities. You’re already doing attribution!

Your company may already be looking at brand versus non-brand performance, upper funnel versus lower funnel impact on ROI… the key is finding it and just getting started.” - Eva Breitenbach, Analytic Lead, Google B2B

But data can be as precarious as it is insightful. In the wake of the big data barrage, new challenges have surfaced from storage to interpretation, sharing to analysis, and level of knowledge to comprehension. Forum executives agreed that getting the data house in order at any level has proven to be intimidating and a game of hot potato. Not to mention the struggle in identifying what to affect with the results.

You’ve got to open up the [attribution] windows and get a sense of the multi-touch activity across channels and its impact on conversions. There are probably 2 or 3 areas that are specifically where your money is being spent. Now focus on consistency, taxonomy and architecture—bringing it all together so it can make sense.” - Casey Carey, CMO, Adometry

Attribution is not what your organization thinks it is
When asked to personify marketing attribution at the beginning of the Forum, terms like elusive, overcomplicated, insightful, and never-ending were brought forward. After further discussion, the source of the discomfort seemed to be the disjointed misunderstanding across organizations about what attribution is supposed to solve. Should attribution bridge the gap between marketing and sales? Should it inform budget allocation by attempting to give credit to source activities?

There seems to be a fear of the unknown that gets more confusing the further out you are from the marketing circle. There’s a need for a basic education on the possibilities. The picture has to be painted faster, with a clear communication of the benefits. Will attribution provide cost efficiency or an ability to do more with budget?

Then comes the real challenge: who in the organization holds the measuring stick? Marketing? IT? Finance? Executives that attended the Forum agreed that securing viable, and dedicated, resources to evolve the process is imperative to having an agnostic, data-focused view from the start (whether internal or agency-side).

Digital [marketing] is the ignition point. It’s sparking the desire for more holistic measure and management across all channels, and that’s where it begins.” –Tom An, VP Digital Strategy, Jellyfish US

So marketing teams - who wants first crack?

Many thanks to the Jellyfish Forum attendees and experts from Google and Adometry for their participation and insights!

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