Defining Digital Success

Learning to look past last touch attribution

It's very surprising the number of mainstream organizations in 2016 who still measure success, and budget accordingly, based on looking at a single metric through a fixed lens: revenue via last touch attribution models.

With my crystal ball left in my sock drawer I'm going to go ahead and guess that organic search, paid search and depending on the industry, direct traffic are driving the lions share of your last touch conversions.

Therefore why even bother with channels like social media, email, mobile app, display and/or meta search, amongst several others.

Here's a great reason

These channels play a critical top-of-funnel role in bottom-line revenue generation. These oft ignored acquisition channels play a distant back burner to the aforementioned conversion channels. They typically receive less resourcing, time and attention by many organizations, especially C-levels and executives who control the budgets, as a direct result of 'dollar-out, dollar-in' mentality.


In my experience the funding goes to the conversion channels. In fact a few years ago when advocating for social media budget, I was asked, "Why should I give the money to [him] for social at a one-to-one return, when paid search is getting nearly a twenty-to-one return?" Arguably it's because you are stimulating consumers who are already very close to purchasing. You are putting your marketing dollars into the bottom of the funnel rather than widening it at the top. (I lost the argument, for the record.)

Should we gauge and respectively fund our marketing efforts this way? I vote no.

This is not a new concept. Seph Zdarko refers to last touch attribution as "easily gamed and lends itself to manipulation", in an article he's coined "Gaming the Attribution System", where he directly speaks to various ways to advertise and target via persistent tactics (ie: retargeting) to consumers and guests whom have already visited your site and are possibly already your customer.

Alternative considerations

Budget-pending there are tools that have become much better at following the customers cross-device & cross-platform journey along your website through customized pixels and lookback windows.

Take aim at mobile geo-patterns, more accurate behavioral targeting and predictive scoring and leverage lookalike audiences and grow your top to middle funnel initiatives with your marketing dollars beyond last touch revenue as a single success metric.

Two tools I am reviewing currently that fit the bill above are Quantcast and Cieslok Media.
I'm unaffiliated with both companies and products - so I won't link out - they're pretty unique names for a quick Google search.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment