Nielsen’s Head of Analytics Speaks About the Future of Attribution

January 30, 2018 Ginna Hall

Growth in marketing budgets has stalled after continued increases over recent years, according to Gartner. The pressure is on CMOs to contribute to the bottom line and justify spend. The challenge is how to allocate budget correctly to get the most out of a company’s marketing investment.

Marketing mix modeling (MMM) is an established method for inferring the relationships between offline and online channels and delivering recommendations for optimization. While MMM can answer key channel allocation questions, this approach only works at an aggregate level. To tactically understand how an individual spot or ad performs, marketers need multi-touch attribution (MTA).

"Attribution models bring speed and granularity together and the marketing mix world offers scale and coverage.  Where I see the industry going in the next two years is that both of those pieces come together."

Multi-touch attribution allows marketers to track users across addressable channels and devices to understand the effectiveness of marketing tactics at extremely granular levels (creative, keyword, placement, etc.). Yet for many marketers, implementing comprehensive multi-touch attribution is more of an aspiration than a reality.

In an interview in MediaVillage, Nielsen’s Matthew Krepsik acknowledged this truth: “If we think about our constituents and our users, whether marketers or other business executives, what they really want is greater intelligence.”

Recently, media research executive Charlene Weisler sat down with Krepsik, Global Head of Analytics, to talk more about the current challenges and solutions around multi-touch attribution. You can read the complete interview here: “Nielsen's Matthew Krepsik on Facing the Challenges of Attribution.”


The Power of Data

As Krepsik stated, the ecosystem calls for a new kind of marketing intelligence. A key factor is data. As the premier source of marketing and media data, Nielsen is in a unique position to enable marketers to learn from and act on these insights.

Nielsen has opened up access to its data with partners to make it easier to use and more permissible for marketers and brand owners across the value chain. The company’s ability to bring complementary datasets together for specific use cases is a huge area of growth and innovation for the company.

While Krepsik identified the ability to connect “a digital consumer from an offline consumer” as a tremendous opportunity, he noted that one of the challenges is de-duplicating data.

Krepsik gave a vivid example of these challenges, saying, “Your phone right now probably has more than 50 or 100 cookies on it. All of those cookies roll into a device. That device has to roll into other devices … [T]he first challenge is getting from cookies to devices and devices to people.”

De-duplication of data has moved to the forefront as, a decade into the smartphone era, most consumers continue to purchase new devices and update the devices they already own. Krepsik added, “The challenge is that we have gone past the period of "build" and we have to constantly reinvest in the updating.”

Budget Allocation

The Evolution of an Industry

Krepsik sees that the attribution industry must advance to meet the needs of marketers in general and CMOs in particular.

Today’s multi-touch attribution models allow digital marketers to track the consumer journey, understand audience behavior at a granular level, and to make decisions about “the cornucopia of [addressable] media channels and how they can get more improvement out of them.”

But CMOs need answers to big picture questions that MTA may not answer, such as how much of their total budget to allocate to digital marketing.

So while multi-touch attribution solutions for digital media planning are well advanced, there are “strong areas of improvement” when it comes to maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of an entire marketing portfolio.

The Future of Attribution

Krepsik says marketers often choose between multi-touch attribution models that offer speed and granularity and marketing mix models that offer scale and coverage. He believes that the attribution industry will continue to evolve to combine the best of both types of models.

“Where I see the industry going in the next two years is that both of those pieces come together; leveraging the technology, real-time nature and granularity in the attribution model with the scale, coverage and sophistication of marketing mix modeling.”

Read the complete interview in MediaVillage: “Nielsen's Matthew Krepsik on Facing the Challenges of Attribution

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