“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Jeff Green, founder and CEO at The Trade Desk.
While I joined my fellow Americans in catching World Cup fever, I couldn’t help but lose some steam after the US fell to Belgium. Germany’s victory was a well-fought, well-played win, which I was happy to celebrate with my German colleagues.
Throughout the tournament, though, I was struck by how often goals, and the goal-scorer, were the only plays and players featured in highlights. It made me think of the challenges we face as marketers in RTB in dealing with the old-school method of last-touch attribution. How can we, as data-driven marketers, continue to assign credit for campaign conversions in such a myopic way?
The problem is that last-touch and last-click attribution have been a pretty consistent standard. Collectively evolving to something better is one of the hardest changes to make in advertising. It is also one of the most important next milestones for our industry. As many others look back on lessons from the World Cup, I find myself looking ahead to a different kind of football – the upcoming NFL season – for a model of how we can improve in RTB.
As a first step, advertisers should take a lesson from the football field and measure team performance at every position. The burst in popularity of fantasy leagues tapped into this insight by giving fans the opportunity to track yards rushed, passing yards, sacks, blocked kicks and more, in addition to the scoring plays you’ll see on ESPN come September. This look at the whole field, and not just the end zone, is where we should take our cue.
For media agencies, measuring performance at every level in digital media, especially with the ability to adjust in real time, means that view-through credit beyond last-touch is an integral part of the marketing plan and not an exception. It is becoming the new standard. View-through credit maps the user’s journey from first impression to conversion, whether they converted from a click-through or visited the advertiser’s site independently after being served enough ads to sway them into buying online. It’s what offline advertising always struggled to understand: Did my customer buy my product because of that billboard or my newspaper ads? Or did both contribute?
“Only in online advertising do we give credit to the guy who got there last,” a speaker joked at a recent ad tech conference in Berlin.
We seem foolish when it’s put so simply, but the truth is that attribution among many players on a media plan is a challenge. Yet we persist: Last-touch attribution on a media plan means you’re paying the receiver because he was the one who caught the pass in the end zone. But we’d be silly not to credit the offensive line and the quarterback.
Digital is capable of so much more. We can measure everything. Marketers can incentivize their agents to play the game a better way.
Being able to watch the entire transaction take place, a marketer can identify if the consumer first saw the ad on Facebook and later visited a site where they were retargeted through display before eventually buying the item. Understanding how a series of plays leads to a goal is very useful for marketers that want to build long-term success. It’s why advertisers and their agencies have to count on their DSPs to come to the table as a teammate and not just a vendor at the end of the chain.
We’re all contributing to the win, and we can measure it.