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Convincing Your Organization Of The Benefits of Attribution

This is part of our "5x5" series, in which we share five tips per week over the course of five weeks. We will share must-have tips about AdWords Editor, account optimization, ad-writing best practices, and much more. Make sure to explore the full series.

So now that we've had an introduction to attribution and we're convinced of its value, where to next? In my experience, usually when a new value source has been identified, it's rarely taken seriously at first. Mobile advertising was like that and remarketing even more so. How many times have you heard "remarketing is pointless, if I didn't buy the first time, I wont be going back to buy!"?


I was actually in that camp. I was convinced that remarketing was the dumbest idea ever... until the data proved me wrong.

attribution.jpgThe Problem
Convincing those who hold the purse strings of the digital marketing budget can be extremely tough, especially in older organizations who have deep roots in traditional advertising. John Wanamaker once famously said:


"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."


 Unfortunately, this is a mantra that's still subscribed to by many large organizations today. This is further exacerbated by the fact that 54% of marketers in the digital space still credit the last click, and the last click only, as the sole source of the conversion. Because of this, up to 40% of the return on ad spend is being left on the table.


A problem that I've encountered is quite ironic. Many organizations looked at attribution over the years, using one of the rules based models, and while they found it interesting, they couldn't see the benefit. I don't blame them. Rules based models are great for getting a general idea of how your customers behaved prior to converting, but because the differences in the models were so great, it was impossible to take attribution seriously. Now, however, we're at a point where we've got one attribution model that works really well and many organizations are brushing it off as "just another model." In reality, it's far from it.


Attribution is an even bigger game changer in digital marketing than remarketing was. However, just like remarketing, you won't know just how much value it can add to your organization until you implement it and see for yourself.

For those who spend the time to implement data-driven attribution, there's a lot to be gained. Data-Driven Attribution can simplify cross channel reporting workload and create a unified view for all departments to work from. A business can reduce their display CPA by up to 30% and obtain 20% performance improvements in each comparative channel that's part of the model. This means up to a 40% improvement across all digital channels. Finally, with digital being part of the grander mix, businesses can affect up to 50% improvements in their OVERALL marketing performance. That's a massive difference.

Unfortunately, the methodology that Google uses for its data-driven attribution requires a lot of data. If you're converting 1 or 2 customers per day, it's not going to offer you much value. However, if you're in a high conversion volume business, it can help massively. You'll need quality Google Analytics ecommerce data or AdWords value tracked data.


Selling The Benefits

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. Really the only way to reap the benefits of attribution, assuming you qualify for its use, is to give it a try. It's quite difficult to argue with the bottom line, but getting buy-in from upper management can be challenging. We've found success, especially with AdWords Management, in sitting down with management and going through the comparison charts of each of the default rule-based models. Once management understands that the customer journey is a complex thing, they're usually more open to exploring the conversion funnel a little more. Now, with AdWords Data-Driven Attribution available for free, it's easy to set up an experiment to show the cold, hard numbers and the improvements to the bottom line.


As advertisers, we're always hunting for new ways to improve our campaign performance, and with AdWords attribution, it's easy to prove the value of attribution on revenue. Getting management to see, and understand this, is the first step to getting buy-in for a grander attribution-based approach to the ENTIRE marketing spend. 



So that's our 5 in 5 introduction to attribution complete. While we didn't go into too much detail, I hope that you have been inspired to at least look into attribution and how it can give you a much clearer perspective on how your marketing money is being spent. I would encourage you to check out the help center for more detail on attribution in AdWords as well as the differences between attribution in AdWords and Google Analytics. If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of attribution for your organization, check out the white paper here. Thanks for joining me this week and I hope that you found some of the information useful. Attribution is an incredibly powerful way to look at your business and I wish you all the success in the world in discovering just how powerful it is.

about Dave Davis

Skydiving and travel obsessed. Director of digital marketing agency Redfly, based in Dublin, Ireland. An marketing agency that specializes in AdWords management, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.