Icon Media Direct’s Jeff Lazkani Offers a Micro and Macro Viewpoint on Attribution

(As published in the DRMA Voice, a publication for the Alliance for Performance-Based Marketers)

By Jeff Lazkani

In today’s multi-screen, cross-platform world, marketers have more ways than ever before to interact with consumers through each stage of the customer journey. This multimedia environment has created an engagement dynamic between marketers and consumers that has resulted in new ways for marketers to track those interactions and their associated responses (some marketing channels with a greater degree than others).

Response-tracking methodologies vary widely by marketer, depending on said company’s marketing initiatives, thus attribution and measurement is a topic that exists at the forefront of today’s marketing conversations. The process of assigning proper credit to respective marketing channels is the key to developing a marketing strategy designed for scale and efficiency, which is why it is important to understand which methodology is right for your business.

In a DRTV world conditioned through decades of uniquely sourced attribution methodologies (e.g., unique 800 numbers, vanity URLs) and now dominated by digital-first e-commerce companies, TV tends to weigh heavily on short-term measurement and is often focused on the initial response window after an ad runs – when, in fact, TV advertising continues to remain impactful for weeks, months, even years. In many instances, less-sophisticated attribution models under-attribute the impact of TV on business performance by multiples when a large scale multichannel marketing strategy is executed, and even the most advanced systems are not 100-percent accurate. This is why it is important to view TV optimization through a micro and a macro lens when trying to understand its impact on growth and overall profitability.

The micro lens focuses on immediate attribution: the process of measuring observable lift in web activity over the baseline after a spot runs. This enables campaign optimization by providing a view on performance relativity between different stations, programs, dayparts, and even creatives. As campaign optimization is and has always been the backbone of DRTV, it is critical in today’s landscape to ensure that a campaign’s immediate attribution process is set up and managed to account for the range of nuances akin to TV media and different response cadences across desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Implementing guardrails to prevent misreads from instances such as overlapping airings (where airings on different stations run within minutes of each other), dual-feed airings (different East and West Coast air times), and broadcast network or syndication airings (where larger reach airings may air multiple times across the country) is critical to ensure the integrity and quality of a DRTV attribution system’s outputs. As a DRTV campaign grows and its media mix expands, these nuances become more and more impactful and could ultimately lead to misinformed and ineffective media buying if not accounted for properly. This is why it is key for marketers to understand the mechanics of their immediate attribution systems and audit for such nuances to preserve data integrity. Accurate immediate attribution data is the difference between successful rollout and a strikeout at the plate.

The macro lens pulls back and focuses on a more holistic or global attribution: the process of assigning credit to various marketing channel initiatives. Global attribution requires strategic media mix modeling, and deeper level statistical analysis combined with qualitative pre- and post- studies. Its core function is to determine causality and correlation between marketing channels, the impact over time, and how each work together to drive acquisition and repeat transacting.

Tactically, global attribution requires “dark model” testing, where different components of the media mix are pulsed strategically to identify how each works together over time to drive business growth and ROI. Each stage of the customer journey – awareness, engagement, purchase, post-purchase, and advocacy – are important for establishing success in a competitive market or breaking through with a new product or service. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand, with some degree of certainty, the impact of each touchpoint to the bottom line.

Ultimately, even the most advanced statistically engineered systems available today are only so accurate, due to elements such as the non-directly trackable long-term impact of TV media or the lack of true over-the-top (OTT)/digital video trackability. But – directionally – there are solutions available today that provide the visibility organizations need to make smart media strategy decisions and grow their businesses efficiently within the confines of a well-built and robust media strategy.

Organizational understanding between the difference in both lenses – and at what point each is right for implementation – is imperative in today’s marketplace. As technology and standardization continue to move forward, attribution capabilities are on a fast evolutionary track, and the landscape will continue to change. As marketers await new advancements, such as IP device matching, for tying back desktop conversion customers to an initial mobile visit, and stronger OTT measurement capability, it’s fair to say that the future of attribution and measurement is looking more data-driven and exciting than ever.

Jeff Lazkani is VP, Business Development & Strategy, at Los Angeles-based Icon Media Direct. He is a member of the DRMA TV Everywhere Committee.

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