3 Myths of Multi-Touch Attribution, Debunked

April 30, 2019 Ginna Hall

You’ve built a great brand. Your products or services are in demand. Your team is trained. There’s a huge potential market of customers. Hitting your revenue goals should be a piece of cake, right?

But maybe growth has slowed. Or customer acquisition costs are through the roof. Or you don’t really understand if or how your marketing is working. Why are some of your competitors knocking it out of the park while your sales have plateaued?

Could it be because you’re not measuring your marketing the right way?

Marketing has grown increasingly complex. You’re using more channels than ever before to reach, engage and convert your target consumers, and they expect a relevant, coordinated experience. Yet many marketers are still using siloed, outdated and inaccurate techniques to measure their efforts.

To optimize experiences and results, marketers need an actionable understanding of what’s influencing consumers across the entire consumer journey. Knowing what touches are important and how they work together is the foundation of multi-touch attribution.

At its core, multi-touch attribution is a way to allocate credit to the marketing touchpoints along the consumer journey that influenced a lead, conversion or other desired outcome.

As a CMO, VP or marketing director, you may already know adopting a multi-touch attribution approach is essential to remain competitive. It’s the only way to know what’s working for whom (and what’s not) and, more importantly, where you should be spending more (or less).

But there’s a lot of noise in the marketplace and myths about multi-touch attribution. To cut through the hype, we’ve debunked three common myths many marketers believe about today’s multi-touch attribution.

Myth #1: Multi-touch attribution is too complex.

If you’re relatively new to attribution, you may be concerned that implementing a multi-touch solution will be too onerous for your marketing team, or that learning how to use it will be too hard. Or that you simply don’t have the resources, time or team to devote to implementation.

Yes, multi-touch attribution will never be plug-and-play. But don’t let short-term thinking keep you from enjoying long-term benefits, mainly accuracy and growth.

> Fact: Multi-Touch Attribution Ensures Accuracy

If you care about the accuracy of the information you’re basing decisions on (and who doesn’t), you need an enterprise-grade solution that employs a user-level, deterministic model.

Accuracy depends on modeling at every dimension level at a refresh cadence that mirrors the speed of your media (daily or almost daily). You also need superior identity resolution capabilities.

Only multi-touch attribution provides all of these critical features. Without accurate analysis, you are putting your optimization decisions at risk and missing out on insights that could set you apart from competitors.

> Fact: Multi-Touch Attribution Bolsters Growth

​While your team may be new to attribution now, their skills will quickly sharpen, especially with training and the guidance of a dedicated account representative.

While multi-touch attribution solutions enable complex, sophisticated analyses, you can also start small. Many marketers begin with a narrowly defined campaign or media type to get their feet wet, and expand as their confidence grows and as they see the benefits.

As your team shares wins and is able to leverage insights to save budget or spend more wisely, other groups will buy in. As your analysis grows in breadth and depth, you’ll be about to dig into more of the advanced capabilities. And for growing companies, using a tool from the early days is easier than having to transition to a new tool later.

> Fact: Multi-Touch Attribution will contribute lasting benefits to your organization from day one.

Myth #2: Multi-touch attribution isn’t cost-effective.

Marketing initiatives are traditionally seen as an expense, and the cost of a multi-touch attribution implementation can seem like a “nice to have” rather than a need.

But did you know that, on average, 25% of media tactics don’t have ANY impact? They don’t generate a lead, a site visit or a sale or any other KPI, according to a Nielsen analysis of anonymized client data covering $2.8 billion in media spend over a 6-month period.

This means that up to a quarter of your marketing spend is wasted. If you don’t know what’s not driving results, you’re using up your budget without getting your money’s worth.

Knowing which tactics aren’t producing results unlocks smarter spending. Cutting this “fat” will yield significant savings that can be reallocated to higher-performing tactics.

The upside of understanding performance is two-fold. First, you’ll avoid spending on tactics that simply aren’t working. Second, you’ll be able to shift budget from low-performing to high-performing tactics. Both steps will improve performance and help you get the most from your media investments.

There’s one more advantage of multi-touch attribution. This approach allows you to evaluate various combinations of channels and tactics, forecast performance against different marketing objectives, and generate the optimal marketing plan to achieve positive ROI.

> Fact: Your investment in multi-touch attribution will contribute to your bottom line and significantly surpass your current measurement approach.

Myth #3: Multi-touch models and marketing mix models work better when they’re combined.

Some attribution vendors recommend what’s commonly referred to as a “unified model.” In theory, it sounds ideal to have data and results in one place. However, in the real world, multi-touch and marketing mix models cannot be unified without impacting the accuracy and actionability of results.

Multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling were designed to answer different business questions. The two approaches employ distinct methodological approaches, ingest varying levels of granular data from disparate sources, and produce different types of results at different cadences.

Attempting to combine these variables into a single model severely compromises accuracy and limits your ability to optimize performance. Research shows that maintaining distinct attribution approaches is 5X less error prone than unified solutions, according to the Nielsen DMC-II Study.

> Fact: Choosing the best attribution approaches for your organization will allow you to answer business questions at the level and speed you need.

It’s Time For a Change

One of the challenges of adopting a new attribution approach is managing change. You probably feel like you have a system that’s working for your organization, and people want to stick with what’s familiar.

But it’s no longer enough for marketers to focus on individual channel performance and last click attribution. Without multi-touch attribution, each system is measuring in a silo.

Your results are duplicated and you lack the insight you need to avoid spending on marketing activities that are simply not delivering results.

When spending and performance are separate, you don’t have the insight to know how to be efficient, or to understand the real value of your media and marketing. Don’t believe the myths. Learn more about multi-touch attribution today.

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