Today’s consumers move across more channels and devices than ever on their journey to a conversion. As the number of channels increase, marketers face an increasingly complex balancing act as they try to deliver personalised, contextually relevant experiences for each customer, while ensuring that every marketing pound spent is effectively contributing to the bottom line.

Advanced attribution has become an enabler of success, providing a sophisticated approach to planning, measuring, optimising and activating marketing campaigns. But the world of attribution measurement is constantly evolving as marketers look to better understand and improve performance across all of their channels, campaigns, audiences and tactics. So how is marketing and measurement going to shift in the upcoming year, and what do these changes mean for marketers? 

First-party data will become critical

To truly engage with consumers, brands must be able to deliver highly relevant, personalised messages to each potential customer. Yet only 33% of marketers are consistently and strategically utilising data in marketing plans, and just over a third (36%) use data to create customised and personalised content (terradata).

In 2015, the ability to leverage first-party data stored in advertisers’ customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise data warehouse (EDW) systems will become essential for building customised audience targeting strategies. By using this data in combination with advanced attribution, marketers can gain a much richer understanding of the “right” audiences to target, what products or services are most relevant to them, when they are most likely to buy, and the optimal combination of marketing tactics needed to convert them.

Investment in cross-device advertising will continue to grow

Mobile ad spending is on the rise, as is m-commerce. Mobile device visits to online British retailers now account for more than a third of all traffic (36%) compared to just 3% in 2010 (The Guardian). As brands continue to move advertising spend from desktop to mobile in the coming year, first-party data will also help marketers overcome the limitations posed by cookies when it comes to tracking consumers across multiple devices. For instance, when an individual uses their email address to log into their respective accounts across mobile, tablet and desktop, this data can be used to connect the same individual as they move across devices. By combining this cross-device mapping approach with advanced attribution, marketers will be able to gain insight into the true effectiveness and ROI of any combination of media, whether served on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, and make spend decisions based on those insights.

Cookies will live on

Despite the limited capabilities of cookies to connect a single user to a number of different devices, the “death of the cookie” will remain overhyped hyperbole in the coming year. Even with the proliferation of mobile devices and cross-platform marketing, cookies still remain the most commonly used technology to collect anonymous data about a user’s browsing behavior, and adopting alternative mechanisms will take time.

One potential solution is to use an amalgamation between cookies and user logins. Going into 2015, we can expect to see user-based tracking supplement cookie-based tracking as the mechanism through which advertisers will target their audiences. A user-based approach provides more accurate data on consumers as they interact on the web, mobile devices and third party websites, enabling marketers to create personalised, relevant experiences that engage consumers in the right place, at the right time and with the right message in order to drive a conversion.

A greater percentage of media spend will take place programmatically

Programmatic video spend increased by 50% annually between 2011 and 2014 with $1.14 billion expected to be invested in RTB video by the end of 2014 (spotxchange/Altitude Digital). Although the wholesale move from TV to digital video is unlikely, investment in programmatic media buying will continue to increase in 2015. These platforms will also enable marketers to supplement their targeting with first-party data and other real-time third-party information from current events, such as sporting occasions and local weather. As a result of this continued move into programmatic, marketers will be better positioned to generate greater audience insights.

But while overall investment in programmatic will increase, we can expect the amount of inventory purchased per advertiser to decrease. First and third-party data enrichment increases the value of the inventory – and thus the cost per impression (CPM) – by enabling advertisers to better target their audiences. However, it also empowers buyers to be more selective in their purchase. This is why advertisers will be spending more on high impact buys, while purchasing less inventory overall.

Programmatic will drive demand for advanced attribution

As marketer investment in programmatic buying for display and video continues to increase, so too will the demand for advanced cross channel marketing attribution. In fact, brands are expected to increase spending on advanced attribution by 73% in the next three years (cmosurvey). Attribution plays a central role in measuring and optimising programmatic buying strategies, as it ingests data from various advertising platforms (data-management platforms, demand-side platforms, etc.), quantifies the true impact of every marketing touchpoint across the entire purchase funnel on producing a conversion, and then transmits attributed data back to the media buying solutions to deploy optimised buys. As more and more advertisers acknowledge the measurement biases posed by last click, advanced (algorithmic) attribution will become a must-have capability not only for achieving more efficient media spend and growth, but also for delivering personalised, contextually relevant experiences for each and every customer.