Our FALCON team was invited to be part of the 115 Digital Guru Blue Belts for 2018 couple of days ago at Google, and participated in 2 intense days training across attribution, measurement, apps, youtube for action, programmatic and experiments. Momo came back very excited and shared (together with Shirley & Gilbert) their key lessons learned. So we thought this will help you to morph into being a digital marketing expert.
Most of us marketers know the problem, if not all of us! We know how it works in theory: A user viewed your brand awareness video ad on facebook news feed. A few days later, the same user saw your YouTube bumper video communicating your brand USPs and yet did not do anything but started to think about your brand. Days later that same user who has been targeted during your awareness efforts a while back searched organically for one of your competitor keyword that you were not bidding on and unfortunately, you missed the chance to convert this user on your website. Not yet. Days later the same user types “buy shoes online” and he converts. Yes, this SEM ad works. Long life last-click attribution. The problem: last-click attribution sucks on many levels. Actually on too many levels.
In practice, we have worked with +20 successful (and not so successful) eCommerce companies and are regularly exposed to the following real-world, practitioner questions:
1- Question: Shall I stop my awareness ads because I don’t see real business impact.
Challenge: No proper measurement plan in place, judging a communication activity based on the wrong objective and not fully tracking consumer path from impression to conversion- incl time lag and change of devices.
2- Question: Shall I only keep Facebook, Search and Display remarketing ads as they are working and recommended.
Challenge: Supposedly everyone is using them and your experts (from facebook, Google, Criteo) are recommending them. Don’t allocate according to last-click attribution!
3- Question: Shall I snowball all my media budget to the “most converting channels”.
Challenge: The “most converting channel” is usually based on last click attribution. And as we will learn last-click attribution is not a good attribution for your perfect budget allocation.
4- Question: Shall I stop bidding on non-converting keywords?
Challenge: Welcome back, last click attribution.
5- Question: Shall I focus on desktop since it’s most converting device?
Challenge: Lack of cross-device reporting capabilities and — hello again — last click attribution.
Let’s try to answer all of the above questions with a ‘cheat sheet’ for your future marketing campaigns:
Better attribution gives better insights. Now, that’s Data Driven Attribution (and not Last Click Attribution!)
Data-Driven Attribution (DDA) credits for conversions based on how people find your business and decide to become your customers. It uses your unique account data and machine learning technology to distribute credit between ad clicks according to which touch points were most critical to the conversion.
The logic behind it is that there may be certain steps along the way that have a higher probability of leading a customer to complete a conversion. The model then gives more credit to those valuable clicks on the customer’s path.
Understand Time Lag differences and wait for conversion window to close before evaluating performance
Time lag is the time between an ad click receiving credit and the actual conversion on your website or app.
Let’s assume you have a seven-day conversion window. You typically see 10 conversions in this period. When you shift to data-driven attribution, credit shifts to ad clicks before the last seven days. Now, you see only 5 conversions and your Cost per Acquisition goes up.
Wait! Why did your conversions drop? Why is your CPA higher? The answer is that data-driven attribution (“DDA”) may attribute credit to ad clicks before your reporting period. To illustrate it better:
In the above chart, within your last 7 days reporting period (time frame selected in Google Ads Manager) you see 10 conversion with Last Click while when you shift to DDA you see 5 conversion because DDA credits part of the total 10 conversion to clicks outside your reporting period. You will need to wait for you look-back conversion window to close so you can report more accurately.
Look at view through conversions for Display and YouTube
Unlike the traditional click-through conversion tracking solution, some Google products now can measure and report ad impression and ties it to conversion. That’s called “Impression conversion” or “View-Through Conversion” (only available for doubleclick, Display and youtube on Google Ads Manager)
Such technology will allow you to understand the role of an ad impression (Channel, targeting, ad, keyword) plays in driving micro and macro conversions.
Therefore, we can have more coherent data (read also: In God we Believe, in Data we Trust) so that in the example above we measure the contribution of the YouTube bumper ad impression towards the final conversion made. Bye, bye last-click conversion.
Cross channel/device Tracking as a must
The Cross Device reports give you the tools you need to organize data across multiple devices into a cohesive analysis, so you get a better idea of how seemingly unrelated touch points, sessions, and interactions are connected.
Multi-Channel Funnel (MCF) reports show you how different marketing channels work together to achieve a final conversion. MCF has insightful reports like “Conversion path”, “Assisted conversion” and “Time Lag Path” to name a few.
Going back to our example, the conversion was attributed to “direct” via desktop device, even though the user saw the remarketing display ad on mobile before that. Lucky, with “Cross device” reports we can credit part of that conversion to mobile and with “MFC” reports we can credit part of that conversion to display.
What is your take-away as Digital Marketing Expert?
“A campaign without data is as useful as a Porsche without fuel. Every successful marketer needs data to evaluate strategy.”
Implementing and adapting your digital efforts with latest technologies in the market will allow you to develop robust measurement foundation which is key to successful marketing strategies. It will ease your task to get right data.
Measure: Track complete customer journey all the way to conversion. (E.g Click-Through and View-Through tracking solutions will allow you to do this)
Attribute: Assign the right value to each touch point of the customer journey. (E.g DDA model to replace Last-Click Attribution Model or at least you can start to use Linear Attribution if you have not yet met any other attribution models)
Act: You have data, it’s time to drive incremental performance. Now, when you look at your reports, you have more complete information about which ads are most valuable to your business. Hence, you will be able to
- Learn which keywords, ads, ad groups, campaigns and channels play the biggest role in helping you reach your business goals. This will help you when planning and strategizing.
- Increase efficiency by investing in right keywords, ads, ad groups, campaigns and channels. This will also help you to re-allocate media from less efficient and effective channels to testing and investment in new areas to drive growth.
So the next time someone is addressing the ‘best performing channel’ topic you will happily refer him/her to this cheat sheet 🙂
Mohammed Abobakr has contributed to this article. Thanks, Momo!