Google's acquisition of Adometry and AOL's acquisition of Convertro demonstrate the growing importance of attribution for marketers. Make sure the particular attribution offering you choose is ready to deliver on its promise.
On 6 May 2014, Google announced that it has acquired Adometry, a privately held vendor of marketing attribution technology. Google did not release details of the transaction.
On 6 May 2014, AOL announced the acquisition of another attribution provider, privately held Convertro, for $101 million, mostly in cash. AOL plans to incorporate Convertro's technology into its AdLearn Open Platform, Adap.tv and the new ONE (including its data management platform).
Adometry's advanced attribution capabilities will differentiate Google Analytics Premium (GAP) in the enterprise market, where it has tried to gain traction since it launched in 2011. Google’s free platform, Google Analytics, dominates among small and midsize businesses, whose marketers struggle to justify GAP’s six-figure annual price and to understand how it differs from market-leading Adobe Analytics. Attribution techniques track exposure to messages across marketing channels (such as search, display and email) and devices. They calculate the impact of each exposure on a success metric, such as sales. Attribution measures the effectiveness of marketing more accurately than traditional metrics, such as click-through rate. GAP supports rules-based attribution (for example, assigning more weight to first and last impressions), as well as a more-complex game-theory algorithms. However, many marketers perceive GAP to be biased toward Google’s own media offerings, including AdWords and Display Network. By contrast, marketers praise Adometry and Convertro for their intuitive interfaces, flexibility and media-neutral position. Google's competitors will need to enhance their own offerings or risk falling behind in this key feature.
In the long run, the Google and AOL acquisitions will affect media-buying behavior more than Web analytics platforms. Google and AOL make the bulk of their revenue from advertising, and they have comprehensive offerings in ad tech and programmatic media. Ad networks can capture more of marketers' spending if they offer neutral accountability and better returns. For this reason, attribution techniques have gained traction over the past five years. For example, attribution often leads marketers to move money from last-click channels, such as search, into earlier channels like display or video, where users will less likely click but are still influenced. Attribution's popularity will keep growing because ad buyers and sellers will need to track individuals in increasingly complex campaigns that:
Cross channels (including mobile and video)
Cross a user’s devices (desktop, mobile phone and tablet)
Include offline channels, such as television, print and out-of-home
If you use Google Analytics, explore GAP if your program would benefit from attribution, although the integration of Adometry will take time.
Challenge any attribution provider to explain the effectiveness of its solution, including the algorithmic model it uses. No attribution offering addresses all marketing performance questions. You can obtain attribution capabilities from multiple platforms such as Adometry, Convertro, VisualIQ and C3 Metrics; from home-grown models; from analytics platforms such as Adobe’s; and from tag and data management platforms that have them, such as Ensighten and Neustar.
Assess your options before assigning all — or most — of your digital dollars to one media company (such as AOL and Google), despite the convenience. Demand easy integration of external ad network performance data. Challenge ad networks to prove the impartiality of their recommendations since they will not likely recommend tactics they do not profit from.