Explainer: Multichannel Attribution


What It Is: Multichannel attribution is the analysis and weighting of valid influences on the sales funnel across multiple channels of advertising. Channels in the ad industry refer to the medium of advertising that is being used, such as display or search. The “funnel” is the process through which a potential consumer is converted into a buyer. Each stage of that funnel which leads a customer towards purchase may have many elements which contribute in equal or disproportionate amounts to the end goal of a click-through towards a purchase or a meaningful brand interaction. Early in the history of online advertising the emphasis was on the source of the “last click” which led the consumer towards purchase. This perspective discounted the influence of much of the digital ecosystem which may have contributed significantly to a consumer’s decision to purchase. Marketers are now looking at methods of analyzing “pre-preference” influencers among various channels — ad experiences or social media input which primes customers to receive a brand’s message and eventually spark an affinity that becomes an engagement or purchase action.

Why It Matters: The popularity of real-time bidding allows advertisers make decisions in a fast-paced environment based on timely information about audience psychographics,  purchasing behaviors and URL tagging, among other factors. Looking at data from multiple sources allows a more complete understanding of a potential audience and where advertising budgets would be optimized online. Seeing the sales funnel as a multichannel entity allows an advertiser to take into account the complexity of consumer and brand interactions as well as to establish goals which simplify the criteria for establishing realistic performance indicators.
Who Is Using It: Google recently beta-tested a multichannel funnel analysis feature for Google Analytics V5. Some leading multisource funnel analysis providers are ROI Research, Adobe Insights and C3 Metrics.
Assessment: It might be hard to distinguish a data management platform (DMP) from an enterprise-grade, multichannel analytics suite, but the difference lies in the focus. Multitouch attribution analysis provides simple tools to assess the relevance of various stages in the sales funnel. A DMP will manage all of your data, bidding and more. True multitouch attribution requires a tool suite or platform to have the capability to go fairly far along the trail of pre-conversion consumer influences to connect with actionable insights. Whether advertisers employ a DMP with multichannel analysis capabilities or use an multi-attribution analysis platform, it is imperative to have a comprehensive set of tools that lead to better strategy, not another glorified dashboard.

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