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Better results, (still) early adoption: Marketing attribution in a complex digital landscape

Originally posted on the Google Analytics blog

Today, we’re sharing some research on marketing attribution that we conducted in partnership with Econsultancy, a leading digital market research firm. The insights — Marketing Attribution: Valuing the Customer Journey — provide a snapshot of how marketers and agencies are conducting attribution, the impact it has, and the barriers holding them back.

If you’re not familiar with digital attribution, it’s about distributing credit to all of the elements of your digital marketing program, so you can gauge the impact of customer marketing interactions on your sales results and make more accurate investment decisions. Here are a few snippets from the report that we found interesting:

It’s still a new craft, but early results show positive impact
Although digital attribution is still relatively new — 83% of practitioners we surveyed have been using it for less than 2 years — it clearly has a positive impact on businesses that employ it. 72% agree that it leads to better budget allocations, 63% gained a better understanding of how digital channels work together, and 58% had clearer insights into their audience:

Attribution leads to improved ROI, better budgeting

Last click attribution dominates; agencies are leading the way in experimentation
Most digital marketers run multiple campaigns, each with different strategies and objectives. For instance, display campaigns that are designed to generate awareness will have a different impact on sales than paid search campaigns designed to bring in buyers. Yet most marketers today still use attribution models that do not account for these differences in strategy. Although only 14% of respondents consider “last click” attribution to be “very effective,” it remains common; most likely because marketers haven’t yet found or mastered the right attribution tools. Digital marketing agencies have done more with sophisticated attribution methods and technologies:

Robust attribution leads to confident digital decisions
For organizations that use attribution, it often leads to greater confidence in marketing choices: if you know the impact of your programs, it’s easier to budget for them. As one online retailer commented, “Attribution was the missing piece to our campaign analysis. Now we don’t run a campaign without learning something about how our marketing affects the buying cycle, and then testing to see whether it applies in the long run.”

Performing marketing attribution with Google
Here at Google we spend our time building intuitive tools to make measurement easier, so that you can really use your data to make smarter decisions. That’s why we provide several important tools for marketing attribution, including Search Funnels in AdWords and Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics. And check out our Attribution Modeling tool in Google Analytics Premium, which includes five standard attribution models plus a custom model builder, so you can create and customize attribution models in minutes, and see data instantly. Learn more in our Attribution Playbook.

Join us for an Attribution Hangout
If you’re available this Friday, April 6, at 9:00am PDT, please join Bill Kee, Product Manager for Attribution, and Justin Cutroni, Analytics Advocate, for a Google+ Hangout. Bill will talk about the research and give a demo of the Attribution tool in Google Analytics Premium, as well as discussing Multi-Channel Funnels and AdWords Search Funnels, two complementary features.

To watch the Hangout on Air, tune into Justin’s Google+ Page on Friday. If you have a question that you would like us to discuss, please enter it in this this form — and we’ll invite five of you to join the Hangout live to ask your questions.

We look forward to seeing you at the Hangout on Friday!

Sara Jablon Moked, Product Marketing Manager, Conversion and Attribution

Inside AdWords