What are the current challenges for Marketing Attribution?

Julien Coquet, “Digital Performance Master”, answers our questions on the challenges of the Marketing Attribution and the strategies combining Data and GDPR

Why is Marketing Attribution such a trendy topic these days?

Because it answers a major challenge for marketers: understand how each marketing channel operates. It gives an answer on which are the right strategies to adopt for professionals, especially when it comes to advertising. Attribution still functions today like it did 20 years ago: by evaluating the last click. However, we now know that the last point of contact is not necessarily the one that triggered the purchase, this is why it should be evaluated by sequences. Today’s customer journey is rarely simple. When shoppers are searching for a product or service, they are on “butterfly” mode: they browse online reviews, use price comparators, click on Ad Words etc. The more important the purchase is (insurance, car…), the more preliminary research they conduct. Therefore, when we want to conduct a Multitouch attribution (taking into account multiple points of contact), it is important to consider the type of good or service offered as well. 

Omnichannel data attribution white paper

What should we expect from the Attribution?

There are two distinct sides in Marketing Attribution. First, it gives a declarative and indicative information: how each marketing lever works and the value of each channel in a campaign. For example, we can say that for the Brand X, Ad Words are a powerful marketing lever to establish a first contact and Emailing is powerful for converting. It works like a reporting that reinforces or not marketers’ strategy. The second side, still little experimented, works in making the Attribution actionable. This is what we should master: activating personalized triggers via the right channel and at the right time of the marketing cycle. This will be possible with Machine Learning, which will build mathematical models that will analyze visitor information and behavior to feed DMPs or third-party data systems. It will help advertising
agencies to push the right Ads at the right time. 

There are two distinct sides in Marketing Attribution. First, it gives a declarative and indicative information: how each marketing lever works and the value of each channel in a campaign. For example, we can say that for the Brand X, Ad Words are a powerful marketing lever to establish a first contact and Emailing is powerful for converting. It works like a reporting that reinforces or not marketers’ strategy. The second side, still little experimented, works in making the Attribution actionable. This is what we should master: activating personalized triggers via the right channel and at the right time of the marketing cycle. This will be possible with Machine Learning, which will build mathematical models that will analyze visitor information and behavior to feed DMPs or third-party data systems. It will help advertising
agencies to push the right Ads at the right time. 

There are two distinct sides in Marketing Attribution. First, it gives a declarative and indicative information: how each marketing lever works and the value of each channel in a campaign. For example, we can say that for the Brand X, Ad Words are a powerful marketing lever to establish a first contact and Emailing is powerful for converting. It works like a reporting that reinforces or not marketers’ strategy. The second side, still little experimented, works in making the Attribution actionable. This is what we should master: activating personalized triggers via the right channel and at the right time of the marketing cycle. This will be possible with Machine Learning, which will build mathematical models that will analyze visitor information and behavior to feed DMPs or third-party data systems. It will help advertising
agencies to push the right Ads at the right time. 

Simply put, we will be able to better target consumers and thus limit the “butterfly” phenomenon, which will reduce acquisition costs. Companies will spend the same budget on Marketing, but it will be more profitable. 

How can we address these questions with the GDPR?

The GDPR is a major part of the Marketing Attribution topic since it raises transparency concerns about use of data and respect for consumer privacy. The GDPR echoes these questions and gives it a legal framework.
The hyper-personalization challenges will have to respect the (hyper)anonymization ones that are imposed by the GDPR. It does not mean that it is impossible, but it is complicated. We will have to successfully track the customer journey through all points of contact, while maintaining consumer anonymity – as well as considering their consent or non-consent. Ideally, we should create a single and anonymous Master ID to link the different visits, devices and browsers. Consolidating all these data under a single Master ID will require heavy data processing.
Those requirements for anonymity and consent will be a difficult challenge due to the way Marketing actions currently work. There are more and more intermediaries: advertising agencies, technical vendors… and all these actors must agree on adopting a common language to generate a single Master ID. It will be the main challenge in the five next years: streamlining the modes of operation of all actors.
We are not going to lie, the GDPR is a true challenge for everyone: Advertising agencies, advertisers, technical vendors… it will be challenging to implement, but in the end we will all win.

On the Marketing side, we will benefit from enriched and relevant data because they will be gathered with their owner’s consent. On the shopper’s side, we know we are not being exploited, or the simple “product of a free service”.

How will this impact the relationship between brands and consumers?

Consumer consent will now be a big part of the entire relationship. I have been working on Digital Data for 20 years and up this point, consumer would give away their information easily. With the GDPR, we move from an implied consent to an explicit one. It will alert consumer and we may see our volume of data drop significantly in the coming months, before it goes back to standard levels.
To gain consumer consent, advertisers will need to be very specific about what they intend to use the data for. The more they are willing to disclose, the safer consumer will feel about sharing their personal data.

To summarize, we switched from a “Marketing First” system to a “Privacy First” or “Privacy by Design” system. Advertisers must identify the information they really need rather than capturing everything they can.

Anything else about the impact of the GDPR on physical retail?

It is even more difficult when we consider physical retail because we need to consolidate all collected data (online and offline) under a single Master ID, while preserving consumer anonymity.
With the explicit consent required for retailers to collect data, they may lose valuable information. For example, customers will be able to ask that their entire purchasing history be deleted from the database, even if it means erasing 15 years’ worth of data. Here again, it is the trust-relationship that will predominate. Retailers, just like brands, must be trusted in their value, in their message and in their use of consumer data

Measure traffic in-store to enrich consumer experience, increase loyalty and sales