Say “Pittsburgh playoff game in 2011” to any Broncos fan, and they can tell you exactly where they watched it. Me? I turned it off just as overtime was starting. I couldn’t bear to watch us lose it all. Without a quarterback to throw the ball (Tebow. Yuck), I figured we were doomed. Pissed and hungry I moped out to the car to go pick up dinner for the family. I froze in the driveway and heard the famous play on the radio.
So, how exactly would digital advertisers screw this whole thing up? Probably with our stupid tracking. The tracking that I’m talking about of course is the “last click in” model that most advertisers, even ones that know better, use for optimization. Now, no one actually believes that the last-click model is the right model. I haven’t been to a conference in the past 2 years where attribution management wasn’t one of the hot topics. And well it should be. Last-click is a crap model, but it’s super cheap to use it for tracking and it allows for that all important Year Over Year data comparison that drives the compensation bonus for so many of our client contacts.
The last click model is more than a little problematic over the long term. It can be a downright disaster. Let me illustrate how goofy the model is through an example.
What if the Denver Broncos’ roster was managed by an online marketer? I imagine the conversation might go something like this:
John Fox (Broncos coach if you needed a hint): Great job this season everyone! Time to get ready for the draft. Let’s see the roster analysis please.
Online Marketer Turned GM: Thanks, Foxxy. You outdid yourself considering that bum Tebow was on the squad. I digress…. So, looking at our current roster, we evaluated each player for their ability to convert.
John Fox: Like a 2-point conversion?
Online Marketer: No. We’re in the business of scoring points here. And specifically the points that win football games. Scoring game winning points are our “conversion”. Take that awesome playoff game for example where Demaryius Thomas burned Ike Taylor for an 80 yard touchdown. Who scored those points?
John Fox: Demaryius did.
Online Marketer: exactly. So, I think we should take our roster that looks like this:
…and I want to get rid of all the waste and inefficient players on the team. We need to make our roster look like this:
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!
John Fox: You want us to have just Demaryius on our team?
Online Marketer: You catch on fast, old man. Demaryius is our #1 conversion driver. The rest is just noise. We should push all the salary cap money to DT.
John Fox: Who is going to throw him the ball?
Online Marketer: Print, radio and television. Maybe some brand essence work from the creative team.
John Fox: What?
Online Marketer: Look, I know we need to get Demarius the ball. But, it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly how that happens. My gut tells me Tebow isn’t the answer. I mean, that dude is just awful. And yeah, I get it that linemen block and other receivers are running cross routs and such, but Demarius scored the winning touchdown. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Win. The. Game. To do that, we’re going to flush the roster except for Demaryius Thomas.
Of course this would never happen. It just doesn’t make any sense. But we do this all the time in digital marketing. We put huge value on our brand terms and product names. Some poor fools even give full credit to the shopping engine clicks and coupon terms. Do you know who uses a shopping engine? Not shoppers. The people that use the shopping engine have *already loaded items into your cart* and are just making sure they’re getting the market price. The guys searching for coupons? It’s the folks that already had a cart loaded up with you and then remember to go search for a coupon…..when you ASKED them if they had any coupon/discount codes.
And when we do this, we by definition discount the contribution from all those things that happened before the last click. We miss all the searches that happened before “your brand + coupon”. We miss all those banner impressions that caught someone’s eye, but didn’t earn a click. We miss the email. We miss the rich media. We miss it all, and when we do, we buy the wrong stuff.
We’ve survived as long as we have because everyone else is making the same mistake. That won’t last much longer. It’s time you pull the trigger on an attribution management tool. We pulled the trigger in 2012, and I’m so glad we did. We evaluated many solutions, and finally settled on Adometry. We love it.
No doubt your agency, your marketing leadership, your boss will need some hand-holding and education as you move into an attribution model. Stick it out; it’s worth it. The alternative is that you dump your money in the wrong places and no one gets the ball to the receiver. …maybe that’s what happened in Arizona this year.