With digital media increasing to 37% of all marketing spend in 2016, the calls for a proven digital ROI model continue to increase. Brands need to know their target audiences are being reached, which digital channels drive audience engagement, and when and where the consumers they target make a purchase.
The Challenge with Today’s Attribution Solutions
When a prospect views an online advertisement on a specific device, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll immediately act on executing the transaction online. They may move to make the purchase on a different device, wait to make the purchase in the future, or transition to an offline venue and make an in-store purchase.
Currently the link between an online ad and a purchase can only be made deterministically when the buyer goes directly from an impression to make a purchase online. This connection is made using a cookie. However, cookies have become fundamentally unreliable as a basis for deterministic attribution. At a time when users can have any number of devices associated with their profile, identifying them can only be done at a small scale or through a modeling exercise that forecasts view-through, search activity, and cross-device actions against a pool of impressions. Additionally, associating in-store purchases with a digital campaign can be even harder to prove.
Combined, these factors sufficiently blur the lines between an online campaign and the end purchase, making the marketer’s planning and forecasting little more than a best guess. Any identifications that can be made often default to “last click”, which often reward a keyword search and discount the awareness created by the ad placement. Alternatively, attribution is left to a series of extrapolated conclusions based on inconclusive evidence.
The Solution: How do Marketers Achieve True Attribution?
Marketers need the ability to deterministically match conversions against specific activities and campaigns that drive user engagement. This requires total transparency across offline and online touchpoints — transparency to who in their audience is being reached, transparency to their movement through the funnel, and transparency at the point of sale. The last step is crucial; marketers need to be able to connect a purchase back to their original audience.
An effective matchback and attribution method requires the use of a persistent user ID. This ID must provide the breadth of unique user reach, onboarded from known prospects, that will not be diluted by cookie expiration or a probabilistic extrapolation to devices or related cookies. Campaigns developed around IP technology, like Semcasting’s Smart Zones, support attribution as an attainable marketing goal.
Rather than onboarding your target prospects to a 30% match rate with cookies and being forced to supplement it with per-packaged behavioral pools, try using a data provider that can onboard audiences to IPs. With an average 86% unduplicated unique user match rate to both network and device IDs, an IP-based audience inherently creates an attribution link. Unlike cookies, IPs are persistent and remain transparent from the impression to the website, across devices, and to physical locations. Online impressions and site visits can be identified by the IP and matched back to the original audience. With this, marketers can prove their intended audience is the one they’re actually reaching. Additionally, offline purchase events can be matched back to either the purchase or in-store device usage, making the link between the original offline prospect, to the ad impression, and to the eventual purchase.
The accuracy of this method is deterministic and maintained by the match rates of the IP data. Any matched IP can be consistently identified throughout the campaign process; therefore, the overall attribution results are dependent on the highest possible match rate to the initial onboarded audience. When it comes to match rates and universal IDs, knowing the right questions to ask your agency or data provider – ensuring they can provide the advanced tools and products, like Smart Zones and the free Site Visitor Attribution tool – is a powerful first step towards adopting a successful attribution solution.
Semcasting has been an industry leader in audience building, onboarding, and qualification since 2009. We built our own robust database of consumers and businesses, supported by a patented predictive modeling technology. Our IP onboarding and qualification technology — Smart Zones — is backed by an initial patent granted in 2014 and a continuation patent granted in 2016 for device analytics and attribution in support of the Internet of Things. Smart Zones is unique in that it allows for far more granular onboarding and targeting when compared to other IP-Geo services — being several thousand times more accurate than a zip-code on average. Our mobile targeting technology, Mobile Footprints, covers 125+ million mobile devices with the ability to map every identified device back to any other location visited over the last 7 to 90 days.