The subject of attribution has been a mainstay on the agenda for Performance Marketing Insights in recent years. 

Digital’s favourite sticking point will gain another outing this year as Quantcast’s Amit Kotecha brings to light the current issues advertisers have with attributing value beyond the last touchpoint.

In the lead up to a slot which should rally advertisers, agencies and publishers into action, the group’s head of marketing for EMEA will provide an overview of the problems at hand whilst delving into some of the metrics and scenarios which could see to their end.

We caught up with Amit to provide a sneak peak into what’s expected to be an insightful and thought-provoking session on the biddable media track.

We’re not short of noise about attribution at the minute. What is the basis of your session at PMI: Europe?
Amit Kotecha: It’s extremely positive that there is no shortage of noise about attribution. Advertising and waste are two words that are commonly associated with each other, and in digital advertising, where data and measurement rule, this connotation is even more prevalent.
Over the last 20 years digital successes have been evaluated by one touchpoint – a last click, or a sale – but today, this multi-billion pound industry is in a state of flux. There are always good reasons for not doing anything and continuing to reward on the last interaction. However, by accepting this we’ve thrown away whatever advantage we could have had over some of the other channels competing for budget. We have to think about change.
In this session I will explain how we can all drive this change by looking at the root cause for most of the challenges the industry faces. Instead of trying to boil the ocean, attendees will come and hear some tangible, realistic thoughts on how advertisers, agencies and publishers can improve their attitudes towards attribution.
Why do you think it’s taken so long for companies to find a winning formula for attributing value and measuring success?
AK: The biggest challenge in advertising on the whole has been attribution. What happens when we can’t measure what we need to measure? We invent a proxy which may appear easier to measure but nonetheless stands as an approximation. 

For many years the ad industry tried to understand how to measure the ad impact of TV. After all those years it was in fact measuring how many people saw an ad instead.

The digital landscape is rapidly evolving and we are being catapulted into an era where all digital media will be traded programmatically; automated marketing will optimise the current media mix to achieve the desired goals. This presents new and exciting challenges to the industry, but the root of all these challenges remains consistent, stemming from the way success has usually been measured by a last-touch approach.
The good news is digital is giving a new lease of life for advertising attribution. We can measure more but need to be aware of two things. For one, the technology needed to measure and understand campaign data is still very young. Also, the skills needed to use the technology and understand the output are very limited.

The industry has to move from just talking about the problem to sharing knowledge, best practice and success stories.
In your opinion, should this be made an absolute priority for display managers and CMOs, or are there more pressing issues at their door?
AK: This is the most important issue that all display managers and CMOs should be looking at. If we want digital to keep growing, we really have to start asking questions about causation rather than just looking for correlation. If we continue the way we are right now, measuring the last click, view, or touch as the proxy for every campaign, we will never move digital towards being a medium that can deliver brand and direct-response (DR) advertising. It will only ever be the latter.

We will also incentivise retargeting, which is disruptive for consumers and brands alike, whilst  seeing a rise in fraud, negative consumer experiences and more ad blocking.
Programmatic appears to be winning itself a fair bit of publicity and budget, but what other issues are affecting its current offering to advertisers?
AK: Programmatic has been bucketed into an effective direct-response channel. It is seen as a very efficient and effective means of finding consumers who are in the market for a product or service, and the early signs are that it delivers positive results. 

This means that it often closes a sale but is rarely used to open one, and I think this mindset is affecting the current potential of programmatic advertising. 

We have to start thinking about how programmatic can be used throughout the purchase funnel, which begins at awareness, not at intent. 

PMI also has a session exploring the starting blocks for building an attribution model. What would your first steps be?
AK: I would request the advertising industry to immediately stop using last click to measure the success of their campaigns. I would urge advertisers to incorporate a range of more suitable metrics, which will really help to understand campaigns in more detail.
These include the first visit conversation ratio, or the percentage of consumers that were delivered an ad and then converted on their first visit to the brand’s website. Understanding this allows advertisers to understand the volume of retargeting required.

There’s also the time to convert, which allows advertisers to understand how long it takes for a consumer to make a purchase. It will help advertisers move away from really short and sometimes unrealistic conversion windows.
Finally, Amit, what do you feel will be the big talking points at PMI: Europe this year?
AK: I think viewability and ad blocking will play a big part in the conversation. However, what I hope takes the limelight is how brand and direct-response advertising can work together to deliver better long-term results.

We have spent the past five years talking about the workflow benefits of programmatic. Now it’s time to start moving the conversation towards how we can deliver better performance, not just in a period of 30 days, but over the period of a year. 

We have all experienced a ceiling when delivering direct-response display and search campaigns. Once you reach that ceiling, what can you do to deliver more performance and carry on gaining market share for the advertiser?
This is when programmatic will reach a tipping point and enter the mainstream.

Read more about Amit’s session here, as well as viewing the full agenda for day two at PMI: Europe – the event bringing biddable media, lead generation and affiliate marketing under one roof.