BFO’s President and Chief Search Artist, Dan Golden, was recently featured on the Techmedia Podcast.  Dan sat down with BJ Smith during the 2015 Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC to discuss the topic of Practical Attribution Modeling in 2016.

Dan helps marketers get on the right track with attribution, clarifying “the reality is that (at least with today’s technology) we’re not going to get to that ‘perfect’ attribution model. But you can get a lot better and a lot smarter than what you’re doing today.” Later in the day, his session on this topic drew more than 100 marketers. For anyone interested in getting attribution right in 2016, the slides are available on SlideShare.

You can also listen to the podcast, or read the full transcript here:

BJ: From the Raleigh Convention Center, we have Dan Golden from Be Found Online. Welcome!

Dan: Thank you for having me.

BJ: Right away, your presentation topic caught my eye. ‘Practical Attribution Modeling – Get It Right in 2016’. Attribution is something that has been a bane of marketing existence for a few years now.

Dan: It’s still a bane!

BJ: Because everybody wants to take credit for every sale, right?

Dan: Absolutely.

BJ: So, tell us about practical attribution modeling.

Dan: So, with it being one of the favorite buzzwords in the industry – let’s call it the programmatic of 2015. Everybody likes to talk about it, and to many marketers, the whole concept is very daunting. You think you have to be a math nerd. And there are so many things we’re trying to solve for with attribution. Whether it’s online to offline, offline to online, cross-channel, cross-device, phone call and lead attribution, there are so many different things that term can mean. What I’m going to do in the session is just try to decode that a little bit.

I think for many marketers, when we look at statistics and surveys of where people are at, last-click is still winning by far, which means people have given up. They’re thinking, “I’m not going to solve the big complex problem, so I’m just going to stick to doing what I sort-of know.” There are many steps you can take between what you’re doing today and what the perfect attribution model is. Because the reality is that (at least with today’s technology) we’re not going to get to that “perfect” attribution model. But you can get a lot better and a lot smarter than what you’re doing today.

I want to go through some questions because you need to understand what the value of a customer is. You need to know if you’re going to pick first-click, last-click, or time-decay—I’m speaking geekery here—but you need to know what the purchase cycle is for one of your customers. For advertiser A vs. advertiser B, there isn’t a “right” attribution model.

I’m helping some folks understand the right questions to ask. I’ll mention some of the platforms to look into, although I’m not going to pick any attribution platform and talk for an hour about it. My hope is to give folks some tools to go to their desk the next day with five questions that you can ask. With five data points that you probably already have within your Google Analytics, or your AdWords accounts, or from your call center, to start solving some of those prerequisites to determine what kind of attribution model might work for you today. And you don’t have to pick it and stick with it, right? It’s always about getting better at it. What can you do better? What can you learn a little bit more?

More importantly, attribution, it isn’t about reports. (Sure, for your boss maybe it is. Or for the board.) It’s about taking action. How do you take some learnings and apply that to your marketing mix? How do you look at attribution and do something with it as opposed to saying, “Oh, that’s interesting. Social is very influential at the top of my funnel.” Ok, well how influential, and how are you going to market differently based on that knowledge?

BJ: Right, right. What other investments are you going to make in time and resources to explore that a little further? You know, one of the things that so many businesses struggle with this as well, is looking at those analytics and figuring out these models you’re talking about—last-click and first-click. When you’re dealing with a small team that’s got their AdWords, and they’ve got their retargeting, and they’ve got their email campaigns, there are so many different touch points, and everyone wants to take credit for that sale. To some extent, okay, they should get credit, but not 100% credit. What are some of the questions that they need to be asking to figure out how to make sense of all that?

Dan: One of the challenges with those different channels you mentioned is that oftentimes, especially on the smaller side, you’re using different platforms for each of those. So everybody is taking credit. We’ve run into some clients that have three different remarketing platforms and they’re all measuring view-throughs, so you look at each different report. And you’ve got 100K in sales and 80K in another channel and 50K in another, but you only have 120K in total sales for your site, so something’s off, right?

Unifying a platform of truth is one way to start. So you have leveraging one platform for those high-level reports. But there’s a lot of value you get in the data from each one of those platforms. So within a remarketing platform, you want to look at all those view-throughs. Maybe that’s not the truth that you report and give 100% credit for that, but in any given platform, the more data you have to make decisions, the smarter you’re going to be. Right? So you know there isn’t necessarily a solve for that, but you’ve got to start somewhere. And in a lot of cases—and I’m going to use the G word—Google Analytics, which most clients and most businesses have, the foundation of that attribution is there as long as you’re tagging everything properly.

BJ: Dan Golden, your talk is tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it.
Be there or be square!

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Also published on Medium.