Attribution will continue to remain aspirational in 2019, according to Kieley Taylor, Managing Partner, Global Head of Social at GroupM. But brands may be able to learn from China’s largest social media network, WeChat.

The Chinese app has evolved far beyond messaging and is used to facilitate banking and payments, ecommerce, entertainment, dining, city services, utility services, transportation and healthcare.

“The thing that is most fascinating to me is WeChat is a completely closed loop ecosystem, which means they have a tonne of opportunity for attribution because they also are the processor of payment,” Taylor told Which-50.

Kieley Taylor, Managing Partner, Global Head of Social at GroupM

“There are some really interesting things to learn in terms of a microcosm that could then be extrapolated.”

Underscoring the influence of the platform, GroupM recently established a WeChat incubator which houses a large team of native mandarin speakers based in Beijing who have deep relationships with the platform. The group largely functions as an advisory service for GroupM’s offices around the world.

The incubator’s insights are particularly relevant for luxury brands headquartered in France, Italy or the US that are seeking to navigate cultural differences to serve the growing segment of affluent Chinese shoppers and travellers.

Tackling attribution across social  

More broadly, attribution continues to remain a challenge for marketers, who risk “optimising themselves out of business” if they get in wrong.

Taylor said attribution will remain a mix of art and science, “the art being how do you make someone desire a luxury handbag 15 years from now when they finally have the means to get it?”

“If we were only looking at a directly attributable click within a set window of 30 days, I think a lot of that brand value that has prestige or has an intrinsic value to a consumer is lost.”

While marketing activity may never be 100 per cent measurable via clicks, there’s still room for improvement to measure how different digital touch points work together.

“We are at a bit of an inflection point as it relates to the marketplace because we are going from a cookie-based world and way of measuring digital into a people-based world, except no one provider, no platform or agency network have all of the people mapped 100 per cent, so there are gaps in terms of the way in which we attribute,” Taylor said.

“Attribution will continue to be aspirational. We certainly continue to strive to work across the walled gardens and the open web to better understand how the media dollars were used most effectively.”

Attribution offline

Taylor’s role also acts as a voice to the social media platforms, advocating on behalf of GroupM’s teams and clients for the roadmaps, training and resourcing that would benefit its teams and clients.

One item on the wishlist is for digital platforms to be open to working with more of the physical attribution partners, allowing retailers to track how online ads impact footfall.

“Many of our retail clients still have the majority of their revenues and sales associated with brick and mortar store locations. Digital has traditionally not been especially strong at being able to measure that from an attribution perspective,” Taylor said.

Adtech companies are making advances in the space. However, if social networks select preferred physical attribution partners — like Snap and Placed or Pinterest and Ninth Decimal — it could create a “walled ecosystems of footfall attribution providers”.

“To allow an advertiser to bring preferred attribution partner across these different silos I think would be really meaningful,” Taylor said.

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