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October 24, 2018

Does Attribution Beyond The Last Click Help Marketers?

NewAllProductsBy: Jaffer Ali

I have been in the direct marketing business a very long time. This means we have purchased a great deal of media to sell products as well as build various businesses owned over the past 30 years. I have also been on the media selling side of the business as well, meaning we sold advertising to both direct marketers and brand marketers.

It did not take me long to understand the difference in mindset between the two opposite sides of the table. As a media seller, I wanted to make sure that marketers were attributing as many sales to the advertising I sold them as possible.

Why would I care as a seller of advertising?

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There is one major reason; so I could get a larger share of their ad spend. Of course that is why. If more sales were generated and attributed to our media, I wanted to make sure the marketer knew it came from our media. Attributing as many of those sales seemed important for me. It was in MY INTEREST to get "credit" for the sales instead of Google, or some other media source.

Now flip to the other side of the table. If you are a marketer, everyone is trying to get you to attribute online sales to media beyond the last click. Agencies do it... media owners want the attribution (as discussed above), service providers tout their latest algorithm to attribute beyond the last click (of course so they can charge you for that service), and consultants promote this folly as well. Add the industry trades touting it and attribution models become the most important thing on the planet. It has now become standard, conventional wisdom that only an idiot would dispute.

Queue me rising to place the dunce cap firmly atop my head and proudly wear the idiot badge. In today's media environment, I am not looking for a complex, predictive algorithm attributing sales beyond the last click. And that suits me fine because the last click remains and will remain the best metric for allocating one's media spend.

As a buyer of direct marketing media, there is no reason to budget beyond having test budgets. After the tests, simply buy more of what is yielding a positive ROI or negotiate lower rates. This of course means forgetting about LTV. But that aside, direct marketing needs to go back to acquiring customers at a profit or at no worse than break-even... especially in this online media environment where 80% of online media is unsold.

Where is the biggest bang for your buck? Trying to figure out attribution beyond the last click for an ad buy? Or expanding your media buys to monetize a seemingly unlimited media supply in the digital ecosystem? By forcing the last click to yield profitability, you can often adjust what you spend on the media buy to get there.

Forcing the last click to be a profitable click lowers risk and increases profitability in this environment. Why do I qualify the statement? Because when you have 80% of online advertising unsold, this is where the real opportunity lies and not in finding ways to justify an increase in what you pay for the last click. Give me a marketing tactic that allows me to LOWER the cost of the last click, not raise it.

As a marketer, I am skeptical when someone says to me, "Hey Jaffer, let me know how I can show you a way to pay more for this click. You see, all clicks are not created equally!" BTW, I even wrote an essay with that title, "All Clicks Are Not Created Equally" but this does not mean one needs to invent dubious and often spurious reasons beyond the last click to justify the increase.

Marketers, negotiate for each click to be profitable on its own... the rest takes care of itself.

Original Article: Does Attribution Beyond The Last Click Help Marketers?

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