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  • Frank Gussoni

Where’s The Common Sense?

Over the last ten years, we have seen some impressive advances made not only in data science, engineering, and analytics but also in the increased availability of tools and applications that include a variety of statistical and economic models.

Increasingly, businesses are leveraging such sophisticated machine learning models, using hundreds or even thousands of variables, to predict customer buying behavior, based on historical trends and patterns. Experts are sorting customers into “like” groups, allowing marketers to develop products and offers that are tailored to fit their needs.

As with any technological advancement, this exciting new world of big data frees up a lot of time that was previously spent building and analyzing customer profiles. Instead, it allows marketers to focus on what they love the most, which is developing a variety of offers for customers and tweaking different scenarios in near real-time using these models before implementing them in the real world.

The possibilities seem to be endless, and all with very little downside. But, in order to ensure the success of these campaigns, it pays to be diligent and purposeful in your planning and execution.

Marketing teams have endless tech options for better understanding the output of their marketing efforts. Each technology measures key attributes like traffic, contact collections, and influenced revenue. While some are better measurables than others, all create incentives for the marketing teams to sometimes ignore how they know their buyers normally interact with their brand.

The result is that the marketer’s focus turns to improving those measurables so they can prove their own success, rather than implementing the tactics that they already know, to move the needle with their customers. This eliminates the common-sense part of marketing and rewards the marketing teams for using the channels that are the easiest to measure results.

Marketing attribution is the process of assigning value, or credits, to a touchpoint in the customer journey in order to determine which marketing efforts created the most opportunities. In other words, it’s the way a prospect or customer comes to know or buy a company’s product or service.

Attribution modeling is the exercise of analyzing which marketing channels should receive credit for a conversion. There are a variety of common attribution models that assign credit to different steps and touchpoints in a customer’s journey. None of these models are inherently better or worse than the others, and all have gaps in their ability to assign where a conversion actually occurred.

Marketing attribution models like; First Interaction, Last Interaction, Linear, Non-Direct, and Time Decay can assist marketing teams in understanding how prospects interact with their brand. Factors like campaign goals, seasonality, and which channels are used will all affect which model will work best for a campaign’s analysis. Where all attribution models fall short, however, is in the case of multi-touch attribution, or when a customer journey has multiple touchpoints on multiple platforms over a set period.

It is very rare that a shopper will learn about a product or service and make an immediate purchase without waiting, doing a little more research, engaging with the brand more, or maybe even consulting management teams.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect attribution model to tell the whole shopper journey story. There’s some value in each in certain situations. But most marketing technologies won’t be able to utilize each model, and most marketers are limited by whichever attribution model, or models, their technology uses or has access to. In the end, it all comes down to understanding your options and what attribution model makes the most sense for your brand and applying some common sense with what you’ve already learned from previous campaigns. 

Marketers who rely on their instincts, with a little direction from their attribution modeling, and return to really understanding their customers will be rewarded. Businesses that shift focus back to creating brands that align with customer values will continue to be successful. Brands that solve problems and create value for their customers instead of pounding them with ads they think might interest them.

It’s time to trust your common sense again.



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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