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Marketing Next Series Part 2: Why Attribution Matters

By Myron Liu
Google Ad Trends

Marketers rejoice! Google has claimed to have "solved the attribution problem", answering the question, "Is my marketing working?" Announced in May 2017, at its Marketing Next event, Google will be gradually rolling out their Google Attribution product, a free tool for to help marketers measure their digital advertising efforts across devices and channels.

Marketers know that users don’t act on a single click. Whether a consumer is shopping for a new car, choosing where to go for dinner, or going back to school for a degree, users are seeing numerous marketing messages from the moment (or sometimes before) they decide there is a need for a product/service, all the way through the purchase.

However, since the dawn of conversion tracking, marketers (especially those in education) have relied on last-click conversions to assess advertising success. The last touchpoint before a prospective student fills out an inquiry form gets 100 percent of the credit. Keywords that tend to be present at the end of the decision making process are highly-valued and optimized to. Vendors and channels that tend to be more present during the research process for a student are less-valued and see less budget allocation.

Third party attribution vendors have attempted to provide marketers with a way to bring together all of their data into one dashboard and arbitrarily apply a statistical model to assign value to other touchpoints prior to the last-click. This sounds great in theory, however in practice there are major challenges

Attribution models must be constantly tested and re-tested

Cross-channel data is difficult to bring together in a unified manner

Data can be lost when users change devices

Without easy integration with ad buying platforms, it may be difficult to take action

First: Data-Driven Attribution
Nearly four years ago, Google first introduced their "Data-Driven Attribution" model to Google Analytics Premium partners. Data-Driven Attribution (DDA) is an algorithmic model that leverages an account's first party data to evaluate the impact each click has on a user’s conversion path.

DDA calculates the incremental impact each point on the path has on a user’s conversion rate, then assigns credit based on the impact of that keyword. By analyzing the path of each conversion within an account, DDA allows advertisers to use a custom attribution model based on their user’s behavior. In the end, DDA gives advertisers a full conversion funnel view of what impact their advertising has on generating conversions.

Since initial launch, Google has leveraged its focus on machine learning to further improve the capabilities of the Data-Driven Attribution model. In May 2016, Google began to users to select a Data-Driven Attribution model in Google AdWords as the default conversion metric.

Next: Google Attribution

Announced at Marketing Next 2017, Google will be tying their solutions together in the form of Google Attribution. By leveraging Google Analytics where most advanced marketers are already bringing in click data across online channels, Google will easily unify digital marketing data from an already available source. With this data, Google with then be able to apply a DDA model, allowing marketers to analyze performance of marketing activity in a sophisticated and algorithmic way. Finally, Google Attribution will send data back to the AdWords and DoubleClick platforms for easy reporting and optimization use.

Attribution + Education

As education marketers, our decision making revolves around performance KPIs of inquiries, applications, enrolls and starts. Most often, there is little room within budgets for vendors or campaigns or keywords that do not drive efficient, tangible, and measurable results.

Attribution does not change the focus on performance marketing. At the end of the day, the Keypath Digital Media’s singular focus is to drive high-quality, efficient inquiry volume. What Attribution does change is our ability to measure the full impact of marketing activity and the impact it has on conversion volume.

Through the new Google Attribution tool, we say farewell to last-click and usher in a new era of evaluating the full conversion path of prospective students. Be sure to stayed tuned for follow ups as we get access to this new product and explore all that Google Attribution has to offer.

Read other posts in the Marketing Next Announcements series:

Faster is better with AMP for search and search and display

Unlocking In-Market audiences for search

Working smarter with Google Optimize & Google Surveys 360

Google’s next steps in audience targeting