The rise of various new age mediums such as social media, CTV, OTT, etc. along with the traditional ones, has led to a wide shift in consumer behaviour and has led to changes in the world of marketing and attribution.
Gaurav Mehta, CMO of Noise said that ‘attribution’ is one of the challenges that marketers today face with the evolution of both- marketing and communication mediums - coupled with the fragmentation of new mediums be it in terms of scale, audience, reach, etc.
“As a result, the consumer which was earlier present on one medium is now found on multiple platforms. Also, the overlaps are high and the time spent on each medium has gone down drastically, contrary to the earlier days when the scales were high and the overlaps were low,” he added.
He also recalled that when digital was at a nascent stage, a lot of emphasis was put on the last-mile conversions and short-term ROI to seep the medium into the conscience of Indian marketers.
“The consumer journeys are not linear anymore, at least in low-involvement categories, however in high-involvement categories such as automobiles, the journeys and information seeking may still be similar and only the mediums might’ve changed,” he stated.
Sumeet Singh, Group CMO, Info Edge, the parent company of Naukri.com, 99acres.com, Shiksha.com, and Jeevansathi.com amongst others, said that the problem of attribution may be challenging, but it is not a really big issue for marketers who operate in the internet space as it majorly depends on the category and the brand philosophy.
“We follow the last click when it comes to digital, because we know that every form of advertising actually has a positive rub-off on the consumer and owing to that we attribute the successes and impact on the particular touchpoint or platform where the last click actually came from,” she said.
She added that while it is challenging to attribute or credit a certain medium for the impact or success of an ad campaign, today the problem has intensified even further because ad monies are being spent on many platforms and de-grouping is not easy.
“There are solutions that exist, but the need, integration, etc. do need a bit of work at the backend where the teams can really tweak metrics and work as per the campaign requirements. Because we have built for ourselves an in-house system for measurement and attribution since the early 2000s, we have also integrated a lot of APIs onto our own in-house tool and while it may not be a 100% solution, we are a bit more confident as it talks to our database in a different manner, tracks conversion which matters to us and helps us attribute time spans and windows accordingly,” she stated.
Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip, said that because consumer behaviour has altered in the recent past, the classic ‘last-click’ attribution model is no longer reliable for determining the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. As per him, with the growth of omnichannel marketing and the complexity of the customer journey, every marketing initiative has the potential to result in a conversion.
As a result of the above, a major chunk of marketers are moving towards more sophisticated attribution models, such as multi-touch attribution and data-driven attribution, which consider all touch points along the customer journey and give value to each interaction based on its effect on the final conversion.
“Brands may also maximise their marketing efforts and provide quantifiable business returns by utilising advanced attribution models, data-driven insights, cross-channel marketing, and a focus on customer lifetime value,” he suggested.
Echoing similar views as Noise’s Mehta, Shivani Behl, CMO, Pureplay Skin Sciences, the parent company of Plum Goodness, BodyLovin and Phy, said consumer behaviour has certainly changed with the internet and increased usage of social media, which has further given rise to a generation of cord-cutters and has resulted in a reduction in the attention span of the audience.
“It is important to understand the various stages of the consumer journey and attribute media monies to drive the consumer further down the marketing funnel from awareness to consideration to purchase, rather than looking at the one thing that led to the last conversion in isolation,” she said.
In fact, she also opined that while it may not be practical to attribute all conversions to a single touchpoint, understanding which touchpoints had the most impact on the customer journey can help marketers optimise their campaigns and allocate resources more effectively.
Saahil Nayar, COO, Swiss Beauty, also stated that it is important to accurately measure the impact of each touchpoint in the customer journey, but the last mile conversion metric is still important because only that can tell a marketer more about the performance of one’s bottom-funnel, CRM campaigns, etc. that are meant to drive conversions.
“For us, marketplaces, social platforms as well as retail channels, all work well because the brand’s customer is present across all these platforms, and the team has been able to crack the right way to communicate with the customer,” he stated.
How are marketers combatting the issue of ‘attribution’ in the contemporary world?
In the views of Info Edge’s Singh, the problem of ‘attribution’ which was pertinent about half a decade ago is not as massive in the current times because there are a lot of solutions today, but in that case, too, there isn’t a 100% fool-proof solution available in the market. This is owing to the duplication of consumers and the ability of certain tools to work well in terms of certain platforms specifically.
“Since every company has their own metrics for measuring campaigns and solutions do exist, customisation is needed from the advertiser’s end because there might not be one perfect solution to this, but companies are working towards this. Advertisers and tool companies need to work in close partnerships to develop this because it is tough for either of them to develop it in a silo,” she opined.
As per Noise’s Mehta, the quality of impressions and the underlying variables that lead to an impression being good or bad is the attention followed by the interactivity and its trackability.
“For any big go-to-market, I look at the whole funnel which covers both top-funnel metrics such as top-of-mind recall, total awareness, consideration, etc. along with middle funnel metrics such as footfalls in stores, aggregators, own D2C channel, number of unique visitors and number of new to category visitors,” he said.
He also stated that one needs to make the marketing monies work harder and smarter, as the cost of inflation on media is going up every year and the reach and time spent on mediums is fragmented.
“In fact, the whole marketing attribution model, be it as per software or skill set, needs to be able to give absolute insights that a primary and custom-built econometric model will give out, depending on the time and money in hand,” he shared.
However, as per Swiss Beauty’s Nayar, there’s no so-to-say definition of a perfect attribution model. “Of course, brands do follow certain strategies, but at the end of the day you will build your model based on historic data along with the maximum fall-out points,” he said. “Last-touch attribution is something that gives you a lot of options to play with while first-touch attribution helps you gain customers, so it really depends on your end goal.”
EaseMyTrip’s Pittie also spotlighted that taking into consideration the variety of marketing channels and a complex customer journey, an ideal attribution model for marketing would be adaptable, configurable, and able to take these factors into consideration.
Throwing light on the various metrics that Pureplay Skin Science uses for its marketing campaigns, Behl also stated that the efficacy of bottom-of-the-funnel performance campaigns can be measured via last-click attribution whereas for top-of-the-funnel campaigns, surrogates such as change in Google search volumes, brand uplift studies, increase in the number of website sessions, etc. can be used.
In fact, in her opinion, an ideal attribution model for marketing is the one that considers all touch points along the customer journey, rather than focusing solely on the last touchpoint before conversion as such attribution model aligns each medium with its marketing objective.