By adaptive - August 6th, 2013

Using the right attribution model with your social media marketing is vital to ensure high levels of ROI.

Last year saw somewhat of a buzz around attribution models, with hot debate about which one should be used to track social media activity. In general, the post-click and last-click attribution models have been the most popular to track click-throughs from social media collateral. However, what some marketers have pointed out is that using the last-click attribution model may be too simplistic and doesn’t take into account the other marketing channels the customer may have also used to influence their activity.

The identification of the entire customer journey that leads to a relationship with a brand is a more accurate depiction of how a customer may click through to a corporation’s site. For instance, if your business has put a great deal of resources into its Facebook channel, and also has a presence on YouTube, do you know which of these channels actually motivated a customer to make contact?

Facebook has had an uphill struggle to prove itself as a valuable marketing platform post its IPO. Facebook has been busy building the ad platforms it thinks business will want to use. Already waiting in the wings is Facebook’s new TV-style ads that until now could only be placed on a brand’s timeline. Shortly, businesses will be able to buy video ad space on Facebook’s own 1.5 billion feeds. The cost is likely to be $2.5m for three showings per day.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has stated: “Every night, 88 million to 100 million people are actively using Facebook during prime-time TV hours in the United States alone.” The question that corporations will be asking is whether this level of investment is justified.

In this scenario is the video on Facebook the last-attribution that gained the click through? It seems that all of the attribution models that are currently in use have their failings, which is why multi-touch attribution (MTA) is becoming more popular, as it reflects the multiple touch points that consumers now use to find the businesses selling the goods and services they want to buy.

In their whitepaper Kenshoo state: “Our research makes the case that the true value of multi-faceted advertising campaigns cannot be properly evaluated by single-point measurement techniques such as Last Ad, which credits the entire value of a conversion against the last ad exposed to the consumer. To analyze the impact of these misallocations, millions of converting click-paths across a wide breadth of Kenshoo clients were measured via Last Ad measurement and then run through several standard multi-touch attribution (MTA) models.

“The data shows that certain channels, such as Facebook, can be undervalued by as much as 30% when all of the conversion value is solely credited to the last touch-point in the customer journey. Although the flaw of Last Ad attribution has been widely discussed for the last several years, there has been a lack of hard data to quantify this problem. This research finally places a number on this issue and shows just how inefficient marketing spend under a single-point model can be for digital marketers.”

Prefer Last Attribution

Kenshoo continue: "In highly competitive markets, consumers are constantly bombarded with advertising and information In this environment, advertisers can give more credit to the final touches that helped push the sale the last mile to the finish line. Unlike Last Ad, where only the final touch-point is credited value, the initial placements of the customer’s journey still receive some credit so that their value isn’t completely blinded to the marketer. Prefer Last is a way for marketers to test multi-touch attribution models without moving away too much from Last Ad."

Dynamic attribution

If a more multifaceted approach to attribution is to be adopted, brands will need to have confidence that the social media channels they choose are not only effective, but that they can also be sure that their attribution models are sound to ensure accurate ROI.

Whether Facebook is delivering the click-through traffic that brands are looking for is open to debate to a degree, but as more research is done, it’s becoming clear that last-click is not accurate and doesn’t reflect the actual journey that consumers are taking.

New research from EdgeRank Checker for instance has revealed that nearly 40% more engagement is seen when Facebook posts are completed using mobile devices. This adds weight to the increasing use of mobile platforms to access social media channels – something that must be factored into attribution models.

“We dug deep into our data set to break out the differences between posting via mobile or a non-mobile method,” stated EdgeRank Checker. “We found that only 5% of Facebook page posts are via a mobile device. Brands aren’t heavily leveraging mobile posting. However, the brands that are leveraging mobile are seeing a 39% increase in engagement per post!"

Mobile Engagement on Facebook

It is also interesting that social media channels are also becoming very close bedfellows. Facebook has recently ‘borrowed’ the hashtag idea, but research by Simply Measured seems to indicate that this move isn’t having much effect yet with posts without hashtags performing the same as those with them.

Simply Measured commented: “As brands integrate more Facebook hashtags in social campaigns, and Facebook users become more familiar with discovering content through hashtags, post engagement will indicate whether including hashtags is an effective brand tactic.” For attribution of course this move adds yet another facet to the mix that marketers need to consider in their conversion calculations.



Kenshoo conclude: “Although many marketers agree in principle that there is a flaw in Last Ad attribution, the research in this study quantifies just how imperfect this methodology can be. With Last Ad showing an alarming 12-30% variance from five different MTA models with respect to the value of Facebook advertising, marketers should feel highly motivated to move away from a Last Ad methodology and find a better model that can deliver more precise insights and optimization.

“As a digital marketing channel, Facebook advertising reaches consumers throughout the buying cycle from awareness and consideration to intent and purchase. Giving credit to Facebook, or any other channel, solely when it is the last ad clicked does not properly reflect its value. Furthermore, retroactively applying any rules-based attribution model across all conversions will not properly illuminate the path to purchase. Armed with a more dynamic view of the value of each channel using MTA, marketers can make more effective decisions regarding budget allocation and, ultimately, improve campaign performance and achieve desired business goals.”

As social media networks have evolved their use as marketing platforms has also had to change. What all corporations need to take onboard is that last-click attribution is not able to truly reflect how consumers are accessing these networks to engage with brands.

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