I am incredibly excited to discuss the first in a series of posts about the topic of the next generation of online media analytics.
Why is there a resounding silence and echo when I say that? Why is the industry not jumping at the opportunity to apply a more sophisticated model to our efforts?
Folks – this is the future standard!
I’m excited! This is one of the biggest improvements in online advertising since the release of centralized post click/post impression tracking 10 years ago!
Bringing More Precision to DR Accountability
I have recently had the pleasure of receiving a demo on Atlas Engagement Mapping, which is essentially their application of the “multiple attribution protocol” – essentially providing partial credit for each ad exposed or engaged with prior to a conversion event. For direct response marketers this is the panacea that further fulfills the the promise of accountability that digital media has promised for such a long time.
I have been yearning to apply this type of methodology to the tracking of client campaigns for many years. I sat on a Doubleclick advisory board for about 5 years or so and have always wished to have the ability to easily mine Doubleclick log files to apply multiple attribution to each conversion. It can be done – by using a third party like Theorem or Blackfoot, but it’s not an easy, turnkey or affordable process.
Particularly as search became the lion’s share of online ad spending over the last several years, marketers have been seeking better analytics on the inter-relationship between search and display ads., while agencies have been in desperate need of a deeper ability to generate insight that led to more intelligent optimization. The industry data just scratches the surface on that one…until now!
Atlas beat Doubleclick to the punch and has set the ball in motion, and all I can say is – “thank you for forcing the industry to progress”!
According to Atlas research, due to the “last-click standard” we have been using to-date, we have been ignoring 94% of the “engagement touch points” (influence) before each online conversion, and that 66% of converters are exposed to ads on multiple sites before the conversion occurs. Up until now we have only been giving credit to the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will.
Atlas Engagement Mapping allows the agency to apply weighting to criteria such as recency, ad format, and ad size, and you can change weighting for active (engagement) versus passive (exposure) variables. All of this adds up to a conversion credit %.
So why has Doubleclick not formally released a similar product? I know this has been on their radar for a number of years now. I wonder what the potential hit to search marketing credit and potential revenue for [parent] Google would be. In fact, in the case study released by Atlas, search took a 60% hit in conversion credit compared to the current last-click standard. However, Doubleclick will not sit idly by as this evolution creates a big value difference between the analytics provided by DART versus Atlas. At any point in time either of these two leading ad serving and analytics systems offer one or two features that the other doesn’t, and it’s normally not a “make or break” feature. However, this new development is a game changer, and I look forward to seeing the far reaching ramifications.
Note: I did reach out to Doubleclick but have yet to be provided with the official position on where they stand with their application of the Multiple Application Protocol, but I will update the blog with that info as soon as I have a chance to chat with my friends at Doubleclick.
Not A Perfect World, But More Perfect Than Before
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect closed loop tracking system. Will MAP be the solution to all of our problems? No, of course not. The attribution of a subjective percentage of post-impression conversions as it relates to the isolation of online media from other media has been questioned, for years and this argument will re-emerge and take new shape. But multiple attribution tracking brings us a lot closer to the complete picture than we have been up until now, at least within the confines of the digital ecosystem.
A big question I have been asking myself relates to frequency. We have learned as an industry up until now that high frequencies are not necessary to drive response, conversion nor branding effectiveness. This fact has been an indication of digital media’s role in an integrated media mix, as well as the need for relevancy within the context of digital media being intent-driven. But it also begs the following thought…
Based on the last ad standard, we have been able to report on aggregate frequency’s impact on DR and branding metrics for years, and lower frquencies have been more efficient and effective (prior to hitting a reach saturation point), and regardless of attribution, the whole is still the sum of its parts. Even at an optimal frequency of 2 or 3, multiple attribution testing will have a huge impact on conversion credit reporting. So therefore, although powerful for display ads alone, as I mentioned earlier – the mac daddy application here, if you will, is providing insight into the manner in which search and display work cooperatively and the resulting attribution shifts.
Next Stop, Brandville
When this type of systematic approach to multiple attribution credit is overlaid onto branding effectiveness data such as Dynamic Logic, we will see another seismic shift in our ability to hone in on what works best for any particular client. Imagine partial attribution of increased awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent, a dynamic that nobody denies.
A Widening Digital Divide Among Marketers?
If you’re working in media planning, buying & management, I would definitely advise you to check out the demo of the new Atlas Engagement Mapping visualizer. If you’re an Atlas client already, give your rep a call and try it out. If you’re a Doubleclick client we’ll have more news for you soon, but you can always inquire yourself. If you are not using either system you may be out of luck for now, but eventually this will have to become the standard for everyone or the industry will continue to polarize the “data haves” and the “data have nots”, which is not not a pretty picture. The press has used the term “digital divide” to describe consumers with or without access to the internet. There is a greater digital divide between the small to mid sized bsuiness and the larger businesses who can afford the tools and data to glean insights that make running a business that much more efficient and profitable. The reality is that data storage and bandwidth costs have dropped significantly, and there is no reason why these tools cannot one day become affordable for all marketers. Sure certain features will be set aside for the “data-elite” who can afford them, but ultimately it is important that most marketers have access to these sophisticated tools.
Stay tuned for more on this topic!