Attribution: Let’s see how far we’ve come

Posted by Cat Prestipino On November 21, 2016

Last month, the IAB Australia released its second annual State of the Industry – Marketing and Ad Technology report. I always find the second year of a report more interesting as there is a benchmark and inevitably the first thing we all talk about is how far we’ve come.

Ad Tech is one of the fastest moving marketing spaces and increasingly marketers don’t feel they have the knowledge. By the same token, ad tech players don’t do themselves any favours by speaking a jargon-laden language that often requires a dictionary and a decoder ring to make sense of.

This report was born out of the desire of the ad tech players who make up the Technology Council (myself included) to understand what marketers actually know and use when it comes to ad technology.

This year’s results definitely show a clear trend that marketers want to know more about what is happening with their digital campaigns. Attribution and ad-tracking viewability had the highest year-on-year increase in usage (up 13% and 12% respectively) and fraud detection and data visualisation featured in the top-three technologies that marketers intend to implement in the next six months.

IAB IG Tech Survey 2016 Final JPEG Web rep

Clearly marketers want to understand their digital campaigns – and why wouldn’t they? Digital advertising allows marketers real-time and accurate information on how people are interacting with their brands. By understanding that behaviour they can make smarter decisions with their marketing resources (which continue to be ever more limited).

But one remarkable difference was the gap between familiarity with attribution and the adoption of attribution in 2016 – a whopping 17%. Marketers are implementing attribution models but they aren’t familiar with what they’re doing.

At AdRoll, we’ve spent a lot of time this year talking about attribution. This sprung out of our own State of the Industry Report on Programmatic Advertising that shows 41% of marketers weren’t sure how to effectively implement or analyze their attribution models.

But the further you go down the rabbit hole of attribution, the more you realise that there is no silver bullet. The answers are more about being less wrong rather than being right. We have seen progress, with a 12% growth in marketers using attribution technology according to the IAB Australia’s Ad Technology survey which mirrored our own survey results that showed implementation of attribution models grew by the same amount in January 2016. But the gap in implementation and familiarisation suggests that education is still required.

So how do we continue our education? Surely, without a single answer, you can only go around in circles about a less wrong answer so many times.

My advice to marketers is to start with the data (and I’m buoyed by a 9% increase in marketers planning to implement data visualisation tools in the next six months). Even if you can’t implement an attribution model right away, by starting to pull out trends of what your customers are doing you will at least get you a step closer. It will also get you more familiar with the data which will make it less scary and help you begin to communicate in a language that the rest of the business understands.

Seek out information from sources that you trust about attribution. Be wary of those who pitch a single solution – especially those who don’t know your business and haven’t seen your data. Thought leadership and guides that give you tools to work through the attribution problem will definitely be the most useful.

Finally, keep going. Attribution is dry (believe me, my team and I have tried to make it interesting for the last 12 months) but it is incredibly important to the more sexy and fun elements of marketing. We need to keep talking about it, we need to keep exploring different solutions and we need to keep trying more and more models to find something that truly works. 

Download the Tech Survey Infographic here.

View more AdRoll attriburion resources in our Member Resources here.

(Cat Prestipino is marketing director, JAPAC, AdRoll and co-chair, IAB Australia Technology Council.)

Cat Prestipino