Am I Using the Right Attribution Tool?
In running an attribution analysis, there are many variables that can affect the validity and the actionability of the insights you find. One of them is the attribution platform you are using. That’s is why it is important to choose the right one.
If you are running paid search or programmatic activity you are probably already familiar with attribution for search and display. You are maybe already using some analytics platform as well (maybe Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics). In some cases, you may be using a combination of analytics and attribution platforms at the same time.
Recent years has seen the rise of third-party attribution solutions, such as Visual IQ, Flashtalking, Neustar and many others.
Can these platforms that can combine all your data together act as a single source of truth for attribution? Should you abandon your old (and maybe free) inbuilt solution in place for a shiny new tool? The attribution landscape has changed so much in the last year, that the answer is not so straightforward. In short, it depends, and we are going to tell you why.
Benefits and Consideration of a Bespoke Attribution Platform
Generally speaking, it is true that a bespoke platform can provide many benefits when it comes to attribution reporting and analysis. However, you have to keep in mind that even if you are using the most advanced platform, there will always be some limitations in the data set that feeds into them.
Industry factors (like GDPR, ITPs, etc.) hinder both in-platform and bespoke solutions. This is why using testing is the main way to get concrete answers. Geo-test, A/B test, and split-tests are just some techniques you can use. Constantly testing and learning is the best way to run an attribution project, independently on the platform you are using.
How to Start the Attribution Journey
Before deciding on a third-party tool we recommend you to leverage your current attribution solution to better understand your channel mix and user behaviour. These insights can then support you in making the right choice when you are looking for the right third-party platform for your business, in the case you need one. In fact, we would recommend to use your existing solution in parallel with a third-party attribution platform.
If you’re still keen on embarking on a bespoke solution, you are already advanced with attribution and/or you would like to have a more custom approach to attribution, here are our top considerations.
The Fantastic Four: Four Elements to Consider Before Choosing Your Platform
Before starting considering investing your time and money in a third-party attribution tool, there are four main questions you should ask to yourself:
- What are my tech stack capabilities?
- What is my budget to spend?
- What are my KPIs and channel priorities?
- How sophisticated is my business in terms of attribution?
1. Tech Capabilities
If you want to have everything in one platform you will need to link all the data together. This step is fundamental if you want to report correctly on your data – which is crucial for any attribution project. Before you start considering using a third-party vendor you need to audit your tech stack, your naming convention taxonomy and your tags. Different platforms have different implementation processes, not only in terms of requirements but also in terms of timelines. Based on the complexity of the vendor and your current tech capabilities, the onboarding process can vary from one month to one year (or more).
Let’s be clear: it’s not all about the money. But we can’t deny that cost plays a big role in the decision of a new tool. Across the industry, prices can vary significantly, from £10,000 to £100,000 (or more) per year. Needless to say, different platforms have different features, thus different costs. However, the most expensive platform may not be the best suit for your business: that is why you first need to define your priorities. Further, your level of attribution maturity is important too: would you give a learner driver a Ferrari to drive?
3. Priorities and Channel Mix
What do you want to achieve from an attribution platform?
Specifically to the latter, different attribution vendors offer different and custom solutions (some vendors also report on Facebook impressions, others give you log level data, others use a very personalised look-back window, others also offer audience analysis, etc.). Defining your KPIs and making sure your business objectives marry amicably with your chosen solution (and subsequent features this entails) will set you up for success. Your decision should not solely rely on pricing, but the features it brings and how relevant these are to your business.
4. Level of Maturity
Probably the most important aspect in starting an attribution project is education (overcoming the most common blockers related to company-wide buy-in). Do you know exactly what attribution is and what it is for? Did you consider all the pros and cons of the different platforms? Do you know what success looks like? Try to answer all these questions as honestly as possible. Not considering the level of maturity in terms of knowledge across stakeholders can cause many problems. If your team does not understand attribution or is not keen to change their BAU approach, then adopting attribution can prove difficult and the whole project fruitless. Make sure that everybody totally understands the value of attribution and is ready to start the attribution journey!
Hopefully now you should have a better understanding of which are the main parameters that you should evaluate before starting an attribution project with a third-party vendor. To summarise, there are few important aspects to keep in mind before choosing a third party vendor for your business:
- Reviewing your technical set up is fundamental to start an attribution project
- Education is important: having everybody enabled in using the platform allows you to make the most of your investment
- Attribution is a journey, it’s not a one-click solution: although a bespoke attribution vendor can give you sophisticated reports, the test and learn process enables you to validate the insights, increasing the value of the chosen attribution solution and enabling you to answer questions not provided by the platform itself
As always, if you have any questions on which one is the best attribution platform for your business or just want some advice on how best to approach onboarding your ad tech stack onto an attribution solution, please get in touch with our experts.