Search and Display Biggest Budget Beneficiaries of Attribution

April 5, 2012

econsultancy-attribution-channel-investment-changes-april2012.jpgMore than half of marketers and agencies say that the primary impact of attribution on digital spending is an increase in spending on some digital channels, according to an April 2012 report from Econsultancy and Google Analytics. And the biggest beneficiaries of that increased spend appear to be search and display. In fact, looking at changes to channel investments resulting from attribution, 60% of marketers said paid search received either a significant (18%) or some (42%) increase in budget, while 54% said the same about display advertising, and 53% about SEO. A majority also reported an increase in spending for social media marketing (52%) and mobile (51%) on account of attribution.

Last Click Most Popular, Least Effective

Used by 54% of client marketers and agencies, the most common method of attribution is last click, where full credit is assigned to the last interaction. Agencies appear more likely to use a variety of other methods, including customized by channel (where certain channels are weighted more or less heavily; 41% vs. 25%), first click (where full credit is assigned to the first interaction; 41% vs. 25%), a unique methodology (35% vs. 20%), and linear (where all interactions share evenly in the credit; 29% vs. 10%).

It is interesting to note that SEO and social media are beneficiaries of marketers’ attention to attribution, despite their widespread adoption of the last click method: according to a March 2012 study from Slingshot SEO, last click attribution models drastically undervalue the contributions of organic search and non-branded organic search to multiple-interaction conversions. And an Adobe report [pdf] also released in March 2012 makes the case that last click attribution undervalues social media’s role in engaging customers earlier in the buying process.

Meanwhile, despite the popularity of last click attribution, it is seen by the Econsultancy survey respondents as the least effective of the various methods identified. Indeed, just 69% find it to be either very (14%) or somewhat (55%) effective. By contrast, 92% find linear attribution to be either very (23%) or somewhat (69%) effective, while roughly the same proportion feel that way about the unique methodology they are using.

Spending Optimization at Heart of Attribution

Data from Econsultancy’s “Marketing Attribution: Valuing the Customer Journey” indicates that the top benefit of attribution is being better able to allocate budget across channels and improve ROI, cited by 72% of respondents. And when asked their goals for attribution, 93% of marketers said that creating the most effective media mix based on true value towards conversion is either a high (57%) or medium (36%) priority.

Other Findings:

  • The top barrier to attribution is a lack of priority within marketing (51%), followed by a lack of certainty surrounding how to choose the appropriate method of attribution and a need to better understand the potential advantages (both at 41%).
  • The primary technologies marketers and agencies are using for attribution are Excel/spreadsheets (32% and 35%, respectively) and custom built, in-house technology (24% and 30%, respectively), followed by externally built technology (25% and 21%, respectively).

About the Data: The Econsultancy study findings are based on a survey fielded to marketers and agencies between September 26th and October 23rd of 2011, yielding 607 responses. 51% were client-side, and 49% were agencies or consultants. 44% were from North America, 33% from the UK, 12% from Europe (non-UK), 6% from Asia Pacific, and 5% from other regions. 62% of the marketers are using attribution, and 77% of the agencies are doing attribution.

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