In the field of attribution if you’re trying to get to perfection, you’re going to be disappointed. That’s the view of Adam Berke, president and CMO of AdRoll, the world’s largest retargeting platform who tells Which-50, “Attribution is not necessarily about being 100 percent right. It’s about being less wrong.”

According Berke, if marketers can reframe their thinking around this simple idea it allows them to make better decisions quickly, rather than waiting for the perfect solution to solve all their attribution ills. Attribution is explored in detail in a new AdRoll whitepaper  called Building a Business case for Attribution on released this month.

Berke says this approach is becoming more common now. “I think there’s been a healthy change under way. Marketers now say, ‘My job is to try to make increasingly better decisions over time.’”

It is all about small incremental steps. “You can become more sophisticated in the way that you measure events. You could become more sophisticated in the way that you split credit between touch points. The important thing is you don’t have to wait until you have the ultimate piece of software where you press a button and it gives you all of the answers.”

AdRoll President Adam Berke
AdRoll President Adam Berke

The way Berke describes it, the good news for marketers is that they are starting from a place where they are already wrong a lot of the time. “ When you’re already being wrong, anything is a step forward. The bar is actually quite low, and it makes it a lot less scary to begin the attribution journey.”

Technology is making us intolerant of intolerance when it comes to measuring results. As ad tech has become more sophisticated and new providers have rushed into the market expectations have developed that artificial intelligence and machine learning will solve all the problems at the touch of a button.

But says Berke, that world does not really exist yet, despite some of the bolder claims in the industry.

Instead, he argues, “Any solution a brand implements today is still going to be a bit wrong. It’s still going to be wrong a year from now. But it is all about the process of getting better.”

Wall gardens

Attribution is more than an algorithm. Access to the right data at the right time is critical, and in some ways that is becoming more challenging.

The AdRoll CMO says, “We are seeing the emergence of what are effectively wall gardens around data. Some of organisations in particular have a huge amount of data that they collect and which they tend to want to keep to themselves.”

That will make it even more difficult in future to actually get a real sense of what’s happening?

For this reason Berke argues that brands need neutral solutions which are agnostic to where campaigns are executed and measured.

“In fact, those types of platforms are even more valuable. Facebook is not going to let you share their data with Google, who is not going to let you share their data now with Verizon and so on. Even if they wanted to share it all, they couldn’t do it in a privacy-centric way.”

Agency vs in-house

As complexity grows and as the rules around how data can be used and shared evolve, the role of agencies will become critical, whether they are managing attribution directly for a client or advising them on how to do it themselves.

“This is an area where agencies add a lot of value. They have seen this process play out many times before. They know the pitfalls and they know the vendors. Agencies also understand how to collect the data, and how to analyse it. And they will know what you need to know to make it all attributable.”

And analytics expertise is critical whether held by the agencies or inside the brand. “Attribution needs professionals with a background in statistics, who understand the data and the right questions to ask for that business.”

“It can be very common for models to return false positives. and false negatives, so it is important to understand how to conduct a test.”

Download the AdRoll Attribution whitepaper today.

About the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit

The Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit assisted in the creation of the whitepaper for AdRoll which is a corporate member of the Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.

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