The vast majority of marketers are now using attribution modeling. However, most still struggle to act on the insights their models reveal.

That is a key finding of the 2017 State of Marketing Attribution report by performance marketing business AdRoll, which conducted the study in partnership with Econsultancy.

Among the key findings:

  • Single-click attribution models are still the most commonly used (44 per cent last-click and 39 per cent first-click for brand direct and 58 per cent last-click and 33 per cent first-click agency clients);
  • Of the 25 per cent of marketers using a custom attribution model, 48 per cent deem it to be ‘very effective’;
  • 59 per cent of marketers that have not yet implemented an attribution model state a lack of knowledge is the main obstacle;
  • Joining online and offline attribution is increasing — last year’s European report showed 42 per cent of marketers were using multichannel attribution while the 2017 global report shows 60 per cent of marketers linking the two;
  • An equal 43 per cent of marketers are using spreadsheets and vendor technology to carry out their marketing attribution;
  • 71 per cent of marketers describe their attribution model flexibility as ‘very flexible’ or ‘somewhat flexible’.

AdRoll argues that customer journeys are becoming increasingly complex and fast-paced with multiple devices and touchpoints.

The promise of attribution its that it helps marketers understand the effectiveness of their campaigns and how each channel contributes to the success of a campaign.

Infographic: State of Performance Marketing

According to the study attribution remains a top priority for marketers but they still capture the benefits. The authors say defining the online customer journey remains the most significant barrier to more effective usage.

“Attribution continues to be one of the hottest topics in the industry for a reason: it has huge consequences, such as lost revenue and wasted ad budget, if not done properly,” said Shane Murphy, AdRoll VP of Marketing. “The State of Marketing Attribution report gives a sense of how marketers are dealing with this challenging topic. Marketers are being held to higher standards of measurement and accountability than ever before, and attribution models have the ability to show the true impact our discipline has on the bottom line of a business.”

In terms of benefits, 70 per cent of respondents said the better allocation of budget across channels was the big driver, with a better understanding of how digital channels work together coming in second (at 64 per cent). There is also some evidence that attribution modeling is leading to increases in digital advertising spends.

Some of the biggest attribution challenges facing marketers in 2017 are defining the customer journey (35 per cent) and attracting staff with the right skills (77 per cent). Creating a culture of measurement and accuracy is more difficult for brand direct marketers (80 per cent) than for agencies (71 per cent).

“There’s increased recognition of the role marketing attribution can play in helping companies to maximise their business outcomes, but knowledge and confidence surrounding the use of various methods could prove to be a stumbling block,” said Econsultancy Head of Commercial Research Services Monica Savut. “This year’s research shows that companies need to take a more holistic and nuanced approach to attribution, constantly adjusting and refining until the correct balance is achieved.”

Methodology: Based on a survey of nearly 1,000 brand marketers and agencies across Asia-Pacific, North America, Japan and Europe, the report provides detailed insight into a marketer’s perspective on the changing dynamics of attribution. Now in its second instalment, this year’s report provides a global comparison, expanded from the European report released in 2016.

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