Talking Attribution at eTail West

Blog

This year’s eTail West conference (Feb 23rd to 25th, Palm Springs, CA) attracted more than 490 retailer brands and online marketing solution providers. I spoke at the panel “Moving Beyond ‘Last Click’ Analysis into Successful Attribution” together with head of marketing from smith+noble, Jockey International, and build.com.

The session was very well attended with heated discussions around some very stimulating questions such as:

  • How can you become more sophisticated about how to assign value to each interaction between customers and your website prior to purchase?
  • What is your current attribution model?
  • What is really the value of “last click”, is it dead?
  • How can you model where sales come from when customers come to your site from more than one marketing vehicle?
  • How do you model for the future and allocate your budget dollars?

While the panelists all agree on the importance of the attribution analytics done right, Tari Huddleston (smith+noble) and I agreed on one point that attribution model has to be campaign specific because every campaign is set up differently. The host John Kelly (Criteo) shared his experience that the display channel has a down-funnel positive influence on other channels that are often under-valued. Brandon Proctor (build.com) further shared his sentiment that he doesn’t care about whether 1st click or last click is important or not, but rather the analysis of the entire conversion funnel. Trying to bring a technologist view point to the table, I discussed the examples of a data-driven approach in answering many attribution problems scientifically. In the end, my quick tips for the eTail audience on attribution are:

1.       Focus on actionable insights

2.       Insist on speed (don’t wait for weeks to get attribution report)

3.       Validate the results with improved optimization

The overall impression of the session as well as the conference is that retailers are a very innovative bunch. Marketing efforts in retail brands typically focus on both brand building and response optimization. Most often, advertisers deploy a multi-channel campaign approach that mainly includes a combination of search, display/video, email, social and mobile channels. As a result, cross-channel attribution and optimization become critically important. While most brands understand the importance of cross-channel attribution and have started experiments, very few have yet to get a good handle on this. Here at Turn we’ve got some really powerful new reporting systems in beta that address these problems, but I can’t talk about them just yet.  More to come in the near future!

Cheers,

Xuhui Shao

Chief Technology Officer, Turn