We’ve recently undertaken a significant project to better understand how our on and offline marketing activity is impacting our business (Park Resorts).

Attribution has of course been a running debate for a number of years; I recall going to the 2009 A4u conference in London – the one with the oxygen bar at the evening do in the O2, which to the horror of attendees appeared to have laxative qualities and it being a major topic of discussion then.

Our attribution journey has been born out of needing to better understand how our above the line (TV and radio) is influencing our online user journeys. The brand only arrived on TV screens 18 months ago and as I am quickly finding out the investment is too large to just merrily say to our board ‘we think it’s working’.

We are building a behavioural statistical attribution model and are about six weeks from going live.

We do however have the output from phase one of the project. This is telling us that the influence of TV, for example, is very much influencing, even on the months when the brand isn’t on TV. Luca Rossato

Intriguingly (for the readers of this no doubt) we are also seeing for the first time the true impact of display and crucially affiliate activity. We are seeing true to life examples of the mythical travel phenomenon known as ‘Bill Boarding’.

This is traffic going to our main website as a result of a big affiliate campaign, either to check out the legitimacy of the product/our brand, or to compare offer prices with the affiliate deal.

We now know for example that our Groupon campaign in June 2013 not only helped us with a very poorly performing June, but also assisted our direct sales in completely different months. Our previous last click model would not have told us that, all we would have seen is the headline revenue number and a somewhat eroded margin.

Our direct web sales and affiliate sales are a huge contributor to our new to brand number each year. Being private equity funded growth is imperative to our success so any new to brand (Groupon achieved 80%) is most welcome.

Beyond the Bill Boarding confirmation the plan with our full model is to explore multi-attribution with our affiliates, weighting commission based on what stage in the funnel and touch point stage. This isn’t anything new I know but hope it demonstrates a maturing of attitudes towards the hard work affiliates put in.

Google is making a huge deal about how mobile is now such a significant starter of UK Travel conversion journeys with 72% starting on a mobile handset. What if, for example, our model indicated our mobile affiliate partners are in fact driving desktop conversions further down the funnel?

Compared to the cost of TV it could be well worth paying out a higher commission, with the added benefit it comes from the cost of sale line not the much scrutinised marketing budget.

The larger voucher vendors who are piling into TV themselves are also providing smaller brands that can’t afford TV a handy route to market.

So I guess then, my take on attribution so far is if an affiliate is contributing to vital brand building and at the same time generating new to brand site traffic and direct sales, it has to be a good thing for the performance marketing industry.

Interested in attribution? Check out this new Attribution in Performance Marketing digital supplement.