Andrew Willshire wrote an article in Marketing Week titled Attribution is broken, here’s how to fix it.

« The response of Facebook’s EMEA head of marketing science Tony Evans was curiously unhelpful suggesting clients are more concerned with measurement than with metrics. Well, that’s alright then. Only in marketing could “measurement” be branded as distinct from “metrics”. Given that “metrics” is defined as “a system or standard of measurement”,  this is really just arguing semantics, but never mind – language is the least of our issues. »

Willshire points out four problem areas: “incompleteness, absurdity, futility, and randomness.

« Incompleteness… non-converters are simply excluded from the analysis … a textbook example of ‘survivorship bias’ »

« Absurdity… the belief that exposing a person to one pixel on a screen for one second will affect their brand awareness »

« Futility… the user journey… This can be a useful vehicle for framing a communications task across a population but it’s not really something that can be sensibly applied to an individual… Analysis of this type produces meaningless results that cannot be effectively acted upon. It is, in a word, pointless. »

« Randomness.. Attribution methods based on regression analysis of individual conversions are especially susceptible to randomness… The problem is that if you create and test enough variables then some will always correlate out of sheer chance… Statisticians sometimes refer to this practice as data dredging. Without a specific hypothesis underpinning the finding, any correlation is likely to be spurious… Results created in this way are no better than employing a monkey to throw darts at a media plan.  »

« most brands should forget about individual-level attribution and focus on the aggregate response. »

« have confidence in your understanding of your customers. If you know you don’t understand them, then go and do some research and come up with some actual insights rather than expecting an algorithm to do the graft for you. Also, remember that your user base can usually be defined by just a handful of properties.  »

« choose quality locations where you know your audience spend their online time. Don’t just rely on Google and Facebook, talk to publishers with an identifiable and committed user base. In Australia, JP Morgan Chase recently started manually preapproving sites, reducing the total number by almost 99% while maintaining performance. »


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