Understanding Google Attribution

Attribution remains one of the biggest obstacles for marketers despite its growth in importance over the past several years. Google is now making intelligent strides to counter some of these challenges.

With the release of a new tool aptly called Google Attribution (which is currently in beta form), marketers will be able to better analyze the role that marketing strategies play in the buying decisions of customers.

Google’s aim is to offer a foundation for companies to evaluate their marketing campaigns. The tool is attractive because it tightly integrates ad strategy, interactions across video, social, mobile, and display, and user feedback to provide an experience that is much better than last-click models which are limited in what they can explain about user activity.

Last-click marketing has proven over the years to be a strategy with holes. It allowed marketers to evaluate campaigns in terms of quantity rather than quality. Based upon a final customer interaction that led to a sale, marketers would point to the “last-click” as the golden wand. Not so true anymore.

In reality, all forms of advertising from banner ads, leaderboard ads, quick video clips, email newsletters, and other forms of advertising through digital media play a vital role in driving the customer to ultimately click the button to make the sale. Just thing, how many times do you buy something after seeing the very first commercial. Typically, we must see it over and over again before we make the purchase.

Google is one of the most innovative and creative companies to ever exist and it makes sense that they would invest significantly into machine learning. Machine learning plays an even deeper role in Attribution by funneling the idea of “data driven.” Data-driven attribution uses machine learning to assign accurate credit to each step of the customer purchasing process. Good bye last-click models?

According to Google:

“Data-driven attribution uses machine learning to determine how much credit to assign to each step in the consumer journey — from the first time they engage with your brand for early research down to the final click before purchase. It analyzes your account’s unique conversion patterns, comparing the paths of customers who convert to those who don’t, so you get results that accurately represent your business.”

So, how does it work?

Google Attribution gathers and crunches data from Analytics, DoubleClick Search, and AdWords. Then, it analyzes performance from each model across all channels, devices, and campaigns. Finally, it immediately sends a unified report of the results for marketers’ analysis and use including “updating bids or moving budget between channels.”

Capturing clicks, Google Attribution, could serve to answer the one question marketers want to answer: Is my marketing having an impact? After all, the new tool does state, “for the first time, [it will be] possible for every marketer to measure the impact of their marketing across devices and across channels.”

Google Attribution is also giving marketers access to sales data from customer store purchases. Email information collected when sales are made can be imported into Adwords. Google has partnered with several firms to track offline sales too and it has gained access to 70% of U.S. card transactions. So, even if sales aren’t reported directly to Google, it can aggregate from this data and provide marketers with an in-depth analysis.

Aren’t there some privacy issues involved?

No surprise here. The search engine giant states that its partnership only give information about spending and no further details. Remember it’s an innovative company. So, they developed a “new, custom encryption technology that ensures users’ data remains private, secure, and anonymous.”

Google hasn’t turned into the NSA but in some ways,it has come awfully close with Attribution.

Google has made Attribution free for now which makes the try-before-you-buy appealing to businesses who already use other ad services by Google.

Obviously, Google is not wholly independent. It can’t analyze how much marketers spend in ALL ad channels. However, it is the big kahuna so it can reveal quite a lot.

Quality of conversions may also be a concern. Companies and individuals who generate leads may not be able to benefit so much.

For now, Google Attribution’s ability to integrate ad channels and its ease of use might be worth a try and save marketers the headache of not reaching the most beneficial touchpoints along the customer journey.

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