Jörn Grunert is a MarTech enthusiast and expert in data-driven marketing attribution. For 6 years, he has been Managing Director at Exactag and is responsible for the strategic orientation of the company. With over 20 years of experience as a leader in digital AdTech and MarTech start-ups, he sets the course for innovative technologies.
We talk to him about the trends in MarTech and especially in marketing attribution, which challenges advertisers are facing nowadays and how attribution systems support them.
Please briefly explain to us in a nutshell what marketing attribution is.
Marketing Attribution deals with the analysis of the customer journey and measures the impact of an individual touchpoint between consumer and brand on the conversion. With help of machine learning and intelligent algorithms, an attribution model can dynamically determine the value contribution of each touchpoint in the customer journey across channels and devices.
What are the current challenges in attribution that marketing managers are facing?
More and more advertisers today recognize the potential and necessity of marketing attribution. But despite the fact that attribution is already a high priority for marketers, there are still some challenges to overcome. This is due to the complexity of cross-device campaigns, the quality of existing data or the use of outdated attribution models.
Some advertisers still use position-based models or traditional models such as First Click or Last Click. One reason for this could be the simplicity of this methodology, since assigning credit to the last click only is straightforward and easy to understand. Accordingly, this approach is still widespread, although important factors of the customer journey are not considered.
In addition, marketing departments often still work in silos and different teams use different data sources for analysis. However, effective marketing requires a holistic view. To successfully establish marketing attribution in a company, silos must be dissolved, and teams merged. Attribution helps converging data of all digital channels into one central system which enables a holistic view of marketing. Marketers can determine their advertising effect much more precisely. Our customers use attribution to break open silos and we recommend other companies to do the same.
What do marketers have to consider nowadays to create a successful marketing strategy and what role do introducers, influencers and closers play in this context?
To create a successful marketing strategy, advertisers should consider the synergies within different channels as well as the correlation between classic and digital channels. The first step for advertisers is to understand which touchpoints occurred between a customer and a brand and what influence they each had on the purchase decision.
Customers are using multiple devices and regularly switch between those during their shopping process. For marketers, this means increasingly complex customer journeys. To reach consumers at the right time with the right message, they need a multi-channel approach that not only takes into account the synergies within the channels, but also external effects such as seasonality, that also have an impact on the purchase decision. For a long time, these synergies were completely ignored by static attribution methods, such as Last Cookie Wins, where the closer, i.e. the last touchpoint before the conversion, is assigned 100% of the credit. The relevance of introducer and influencer contacts only becomes clear in a multi-touch attribution model. Exactag relies on data-driven attribution, which measures all touchpoints of a Journey and assigns each its actual value contribution.
How can companies analyze marketing campaigns across channels and generate new insights for making smarter decisions?
First, they need an understanding of the customer journey by tracking all channels and devices. Next, they can evaluate the efficiency of marketing channels for their campaigns. The evaluation should be based on clearly defined goals and indicators such as product sales or registrations (leads). You can use various attribution models to measure the success of your campaigns, however we recommend using a dynamic, data-driven model. Rule-based models provide some initial answers about the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, but the result is manipulated by predefined rules.
In contrast, dynamic attribution is based on data and the model recalculates the value contribution of each touchpoint for each journey. The model learns with each new data set and autonomously evolves. This ensures that the model always captures the current situation and automatically detects changes. The results of the analysis are therefore a lot more precise. To know which channels and campaigns are most effective, helps to form the basis to plan future marketing campaigns and to optimize budgets.
Which media and channels should marketers consider?
Marketers should analyze all channels and media used for communication. This is the only way to create a holistic picture. When comparing the results of a static model such as Last Cookie Wins to those of data-driven attribution we often see that too much efficiency is attributed to the wrong channels.
On an industry average, with data-driven attribution, the upper-funnel channels get more conversion shares, while the classic closer channels lose credit. In our attribution study where we analyzed data of almost 100 advertisers, we saw an additional 163% increase in conversions for the channel Video, for example, while SEO lost 22% of its previous conversion volume.
In the retail industry, the channels Content and Blog are assigned a lot more credit within the dynamic model than with a rule-based attribution model. It shows that these channels are more valuable than it appears to be with a Last Click Wins model, as these channels usually don’t appear as the last touchpoint within the customer journey. That’s why it’s all the more important to be able to assess the actual value they add to a conversion.
How can marketers find out more about their customers and products?
Every consumer leaves his digital fingerprints with an online marketing touchpoint or a visit to a website. Advertisers learn about the user's interests, dislikes or intentions. In theory, the Internet already offers excellent opportunities to reach potential customers in a targeted manner with relevant advertising messages and via the right channels.
However, for many advertisers it is a big hurdle to recognize their customers via different platforms and devices. To reach today's networked consumers, mobile, desktop and offline channels must work together to increase consumer brand awareness and demand. In this scenario, each channel, whether online or offline, can potentially have the same impact on a purchase.
Are there synergies between analytics and marketing attribution, and if so, which ones?
While analytics examines how the user moves on the page and primarily analyzes the onsite behavior, marketing attribution examines which channels or marketing campaigns bring the user to the website in the first place. When a user completes a sale online, the analytics tool knows exactly which product detail pages the customer has viewed in advance and how long he has spent on each page. However, marketing attribution analyzes everything that happens offsite and examines which marketing touchpoints ultimately convinced the user to buy. Both systems complement each other and are an important part of an advertiser's MarTech stack.
While Google Analytics also partially provides information on the channels that the user used to access the site, it continues to move within its own Walled Gardens and only knows its own Google channels. Marketing attribution is therefore much more precise and relevant for the efficient and holistic optimization of marketing campaigns and budgets.
How can marketers benefit from our solution and generate competitive advantages?
The need to holistically map and evaluate all online and offline marketing measures is increasing. As an expert in attribution modeling, it is our goal to drive this development forward. We start where other approaches end and combine the analysis of classic marketing channels with data-driven attribution. In this way, we uncover interdependencies across channels and devices and form the basis for efficient budget optimization.
With our new feature "Attribution Push", we are the world's first attribution provider to activate data and automatically optimize performance marketing campaigns. The feature transfers the data attributed by Exactag directly into the customer's bid manager without manual adjustments and optimizes the algorithms that manage the campaigns. Our client Eurowings was able to reduce the cost-revenue-relation of Google's Smart Bidding by 13%.
To what extent does our solution help our customers take a look into the future?
We always try to think ahead for our customers and to constantly develop our attribution platform and add valuable new features. With the AdSpend Optimizer, our customers can, for example, carry out "what-if analyses" regarding budget allocation. Our advertisers can test different scenarios and determine the ideal mix of the advertising budget to achieve the desired ROI.
Based on the recommendations of the AdSpend Optimizer, Thomas Cook re-allocated their marketing budget. The resulting sales forecasts from the model were very precise and were 95% consistent with the actual values.