Brands Need Better Data for Attribution Models

Last year brands learned that taking programmatic in-house was more difficult than most of them realized. Many of them found out that they had to hire for skill sets they found unfamiliar. At the same time, they came to the conclusion that programmatic maybe wasn’t the end-all and be-all of media buying. Programmatic does provide efficiency; however, human interaction must still take place for the buys to be brand safe and effective. That’s the part agencies are still able to provide.

Agencies not only know the media better than brands do, but also ad operations and billing. Once you get into the media buying process, there’s a lot of complexity, from trafficking the ads to interacting with the publishers to make sure the ad is served, is viewable, and that the traffic reported is accurate and not fraudulent. Add in the new force in the market — ad blockers — and spending marketing dollars effectively becomes even more complex.

Thus it isn’t so simple to take it all in house, and many brands have decided to continue working with agencies, only with new, more transparent contracts.

One of the functions agencies and brands still debate about is how to get better data for attribution models. Retailers like Walmart are trying to figure out what data is most important to get from consumers and shoppers. Online retailers like Amazon have always collected everything they can, and with the trending popularity of Echo and Dash Amazon will likely be the winner in the consumer data wars. When you tell Echo, “Alexa, send me more Tide,” you are telling Alexa that you are buying on brand and not on price. But Oracle and Adobe also know how consumers buy, and there will be myriad data sets coming together to understand where and how to place brand and shopper dollars.

Another data supplier for brands is the third party measurement provider. Companies like ComScore and Nielsen measure audiences and advertising for both publishers and advertisers. And now relative newcomer MOAT, which got its start certifying viewability, will share the stage with the more entrenched measurement providers because it is an expert in measuring mobile video.

Advertisers are also demanding more data from walled gardens like Facebook. It’s really difficult to have a complete look at an ad buy that may include Facebook and Amazon without having insight into both of them. However, they have promised their customers that they won’t sell data, so they will have to make major changes to their terms and conditions if they begin to share in aggregated ways. It’s currently pretty impossible to develop an attribution model from Facebook ads if you advertise anywhere else.

The movement of dollars from TV to digital will also accelerate the demand for marketers for a unified view of their media buys.

We predict that the demand of brand marketers for a unified view across all their channels, coupled with an increased emphasis on privacy and security for consumers will continue to cause rapid change in the industry for a few more years.