Untangling Attribution’s Web of Confusion: A Primer for Marketers

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2 UNTANGLING ATTRIBUTION'S WEB OF CONFUSION: A PRIMER FOR MARKETERS Attribution means "to regard as arising from a particular cause or source." Yet, for more than a decade since attribution solutions first appeared in the marketplace, advertisers, analysts, agencies and vendors can't seem to agree on a common understanding of attribution for marketing. OPPOSING PERSPECTIVES Some of the confusion may be due to the complexity of the subject matter. Or, if you're a conspiracy theorist, the result of deep-rooted agendas set by those in media planning and buying with millions of dollars or euros at stake. Whatever the cause, the industry is more confused today than ever. One need not look further than publications from Gartner and Forrester to find examples of two competing perspectives that leave marketers scratching their heads. GARTNER'S PERSPECTIVE Gartner's perspective, as defined in its Market Guide for Attribution and Marketing Mix Modeling, recognizes multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling as completely separate – but potentially integrated – marketing endeavors. Gartner identifies multi-touch attribution as focused on addressable media at the user level, but largely isolates user-level media to digital only. It suggests that, "Multi-touch attribution is most useful when a marketer has user-level data for both the media and the goal. For example, when most of the media is digital and the sale happens in a digital channel or offline channel, that eventually can be directly and decisively tracked to a user and her/his activity. "On the other hand, marketing mix modeling is most useful when user-level information is not readily available for the media and/or the sale, such as retailers and car companies whose media is both digital and offline (e.g. TV and print) and whose sales happen offline."

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