Why It’s Finally Time to Give Up Last Click Attribution

By Allison Kolber in Analytics & Information on December 9th, 2013

Over our many years in Digital Media we’ve seen a great bit of change. We’ve gone from buying placements strictly with publishers to buying them via a multitude of sources including automated exchanges. We’ve gone from standard banners that didn’t even animate to rich media that houses video, lead forms, and coupons. Most of all, the media opportunities have expanded from display and search to video, mobile, social and more. Surprisingly, the thing that has changed the least of all is our tracking.


Though we’ve witnessed the evolution of planning and buying, we haven’t seen the same advancements in attribution. After all this time many advertisers, and many of our clients, are still using last-click methodology to give ‘credit’ to their online media investments despite evidence that this is not a best practice. So why is this a problem? 1. We know that your online customers are using more sources than ever to garner information before making a decision. 2. Very rarely have they had only one media interaction before that time. 3. Using last click is likely overvaluing media channels and tactics and undervaluing others. Case studies from a variety of sources clearly show how this occurs. Think about all those viewthroughs you aren’t counting (or ARE!). 4. Applying attribution methodology to your campaigns enables more efficient and effective media buys. Which lead to greater ROI. Which lead to greater revenue for your company. Which lead to bigger budgets. Exactly where we all want to be going. Moving toward a multi-touch attribution methodology will have a direct impact on your media planning and buying with a shift toward media that you’ve been undervaluing in order to ultimately achieve your objectives (hint: drive more sales on the same spend!). We’re putting this into practice and seeing it drive results for our clients. So, knowing this, why is it so hard for us to change? Well let’s start with one thing. Change IS hard.  In the case of most advertisers, you’ve got a lot of data and a lot of performance indicators being impacted by your attribution methodology. This means you’ll need to invest the time and resources to determine the correct attribution and then implement that across channels and across reporting. Many marketers are frankly daunted by the prospect of deciphering all the information. Others can’t find a place in their budget to pay for the time or technology it takes to get at the data to begin with. In either scenario, bullets 1-4 above clearly show us that it’s a necessity. You can start small. If you can’t, or don’t want to develop a scientific attribution model you can use tools like Google Analytics Attribution Modeling to dip your toes in the water. Though this ignores impression data (which we feel is critically important), it will open windows into the number of users exposed to multiple media types and the need to understand the value of each. The important thing is to take a step back, help your business leaders understand the importance of this change, and make the move. If, like in our case study above, efficiency of your campaign increases by 20% overall on a relatively small investment to get at the information, you’ve got a win. Hire an agency or consultant who can help you with the data. Find more budget or (gasp!) pull it from your Media budget. Yes, even our Media Directors can advocate that. We all want to be the best stewards of our marketing budgets and staying stagnant in the face of an ever-changing marketplace is not the way. And, why now, you ask? Because it’s never too late and 2014 is right around the corner. Carve out those funds now and find a way to make it happen so that 2014 is your most effective and efficient year yet. Call BKV today!