The State of Attribution

With customer journeys becoming more complex and marketing efforts spreading across many platforms at the same time, attribution is rapidly rising in priority for many marketing agencies and business owners. No one wants to market blind, so attribution is deservingly being pulled into the spotlight when it comes to marketing priorities. So what is the state of attribution in 2017? What are the major trends and challenges? What should we expect in 2018? Here are some key points to consider:

Attribution continues to rise, yet marketers still struggle to utilize the insights effectively

According to the recent AdRoll report, attribution is slowly but surely turning from a nice-to-have to a must-have. The number of businesses implementing attribution solutions grew 8% in 2017, reaching almost 40%. It looks like 2018 is shaping up to become a year when every second company in the world will be investing in marketing attribution. However, even though it is becoming increasingly popular, most marketers are still hesitant to act on insights. The most likely reason for that is the lack of confidence: attribution is a relatively young concept and very few people can boast enough experience to utilize the extracted data correctly.

Single-click attribution models still prevail, but businesses have finally begun to switch to the advanced ones

First-click and last-click attribution models are known to be the most popular and the least effective of all. While they are still used by the majority of companies, most marketers realize that only complex omni-channel models are able to provide a full picture of a customer journey and encourage the right marketing decisions. Moreover, a study conducted by Bizible revealed that the more marketing activities a company is engaged into, the more sophisticated its attribution model becomes. For example, businesses with more than 8 activities will most likely choose custom attribution models, while those that focus on less that 7 marketing channels use single-click models or no attribution at all.

Technology used for attribution are surprisingly old-school

Brightfunnel reports that only 20% of marketers rely on dedicated attribution platforms, with half of them only using Excel Spreadsheets and 70% using nothing but their CRMs. Why is that so? While the necessity of using attribution is undeniable and obvious, its technological implementation remains a challenge. AdRoll study reveals that the greatest concern for marketers is the inability of their technologies to support attribution-related requirements, so they prefer to stick to traditional methods.

The world needs more qualified attribution specialists

Among the greatest challenges marketers face when dealing with attribution are the lack of knowledge (59% of respondents surveyed by AdRoll admitted that) and the lack of qualified staff able to understand attribution insights and process data. According to the Lean Data report, 39% of marketers don’t trust their own attribution numbers. This is why the demand for highly skilled specialists is so high: wrong decisions inevitably lead to revenue losses. So, in order to take full advantage of attribution, marketers need to make sure the measurements are accurate and the conclusions are correct.

Attribution impacts digital marketing budgets

Improving ROI and increasing profitability has always been the number one priority for marketers and business owners. Those of them who invested in attribution in 2017 have already analyzed the data and are now reconsidering their marketing budgets. The results are quite stunning: 36% of marketers are cutting their digital marketing spend, while another 32% are planning to increase it (according to AdRoll report). Another surprise is the fact that content marketing seems to be losing its appeal, with 41% of marketers opting for display ads and paid search instead.

So, even though attribution is getting increasingly popular, the lack of knowledge, skill, and technology prevent marketers from utilizing its full potential. However, its value is indisputable, so it can be safely stated that attribution is integral to the future of digital marketing.

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