Better Brand Marketing Through Multi-Touch Attribution

October 23, 2018 Ginna Hall

The number of options available to marketers to reach their target audiences has grown exponentially. So has the pressure to justify the money spent.

The proliferation of digital channels and devices -- with their innate ability to track every action and measure every response -- has created a whole new level of accountability within marketing organizations. This has given birth to data-driven, analytically savvy marketers who have to operate under strict and measurable goals and generate a positive return on spend.

However, these demands have mainly affected direct response teams. Brand marketers, to an extent, operate under a different set of rules, relying on softer metrics such as reach, brand awareness, and share of voice to measure effectiveness.

But with so many brands and verticals still spending a significant portion of their marketing dollars on branding activities, more and more marketers are turning to multi-touch attribution as a tool for quantifying the impact of branding efforts, in addition to direct response.

This advanced method of measuring marketing effectiveness provides brand marketers with a unified view of their media’s true impact on brand engagement, and the ability to optimize their efforts at a granular level in order to drive incremental brand lift.

Financial Services Company Turns to Data-Driven Brand Measurement

A leading financial services company is already realizing the benefits of such an approach.


Historically, the company invested heavily in digital direct response campaigns to stimulate sales of its insurance policies.

To complement its direct response efforts, the company began allocating additional budget to branding campaigns to stimulate top- and mid-funnel engagement. Consisting primarily of online display ads, these campaigns were designed to encourage first-time website visits, quote starts, landing page visits, and home page visits.


However, marketers at the company realized they didn’t have a way to evaluate the effectiveness of their branding campaigns in the same data-driven manner as their direct response campaigns. They lacked insight into the reach and cost efficiency of their online display campaigns in driving engagement, and were unable to establish a link between the upper-funnel behaviors that were most indicative of future conversions.


The company turned to Nielsen for a better way to measure the true impact of its online display campaigns on brand engagement. Working with Nielsen, the team started by identifying and weighting brand engagement types according to their value to the business.

For instance, while first-time website visits, landing page visits, home page visits, and quote starts were all identified as brand engagement activities, quote starts received a higher value than other activities since it requires user data entry and demonstrates a deeper level of engagement.

These branding activities and weights were then fed into Nielsen’s Attribution solution to calculate a single metric with which marketers at the company could measure and optimize brand engagement at a granular level.


For the first time, the team had a holistic view of display advertising’s true impact on brand engagement. Moreover, they could easily identify and reallocate budget to the display tactics (publisher, size, placement, creative, etc.) that were most effective at driving incremental brand lift.

Reaching New Audiences

The team was able to uncover some powerful performance insights. For instance, they learned that even though Yahoo had a more expensive CPM, the publisher received a higher engagement score than other publishers because its placements were shown to drive more first-time visitors than repeat visitors to the company’s website.

Additionally, the team uncovered that 97% of Yahoo impressions were delivered to unique audiences, with no overlap with any other publisher in the campaign. These critical insights into the reach efficiency of Yahoo impressions – despite their higher cost – provided the impetus for allocating additional budget to this high-performing publisher.

Moreover, because the team is able to monitor changes in unique reach over time across all publishers, they now have more confidence in their ability to reach new audiences that are likely to act, versus those who have been targeted before.

Achieving Top to Bottom Coverage

Because the company is also using multi-touch attribution to measure and optimize its direct response campaigns, the team was able to identify which brand engagement activities had the greatest downstream impact.

For instance, the team discovered that certain landing pages were more strongly correlated with prospective customers submitting a quote, and that first-time visitors were 2-3 times more likely to convert than home-page visitors. Based on these insights, the team was able to reallocate their budget to the display tactics (publisher, creative, call to action, etc.) that have the greatest impact on these desired actions.

By successfully driving more first-time visitors to their site, the team was simultaneously able to grow their retargeting pool for their direct response efforts to drive prospects through to conversion.

Placing a Premium on Performance

Armed with attributed insights and recommendations provided by Nielsen, this financial services company was able to optimize its online display advertising campaigns to continually fill the top of the funnel with qualified leads that later translated into more requests for quotes, and ultimately, more policies sold.

Learn More

See our case studies that show how other leading brands have improved their marketing effectiveness.

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