The Marketing Pinata: A Quick Look At Multi-Touch Attribution

Three children are at a party, waiting to swing at a piñata. The first child takes a swing, causing significant structural damage, but failing to break the shell. A second child takes an equally impressive swing and creates a few cracks in the piñata’s surface, but still no candy. Finally, a third child steps up and swings. Candy spills all over the floor, and he proclaims sole credit for all the treats.

It wouldn’t be right to give all of the candy to the third child in this scenario, right? But marketers have been complacent doing this for marketing attribution, frequently applying the last touch attribution (LTA) model to campaigns.

Marketers are now beginning to realize the implications of the LTA model—fragmented insights, wasted dollars, and in some cases, illegitimate approaches to ‘stealing’ last touch credit—and applying multi-touch attribution (MTA) instead.

MTA assigns credit to any deserving channel in a campaign. It’s as simple as appending a third party tag to the creative, which tracks and records each individual impression and its resulting actions. The MTA partner ingests impression-level data and assigns partial credit to all channels that “touched” a consumer. Clients can adjust the percentages to meet individual campaign needs.

However, MTA lacks standard modeling methodologies. Attribution vendors rely on proprietary processes; there is no standard by which to adhere or an objective third party to hold vendors accountable for accuracy.Fragmented reporting among platforms can result in making optimizations that seem to be in favor of performance from an LTA standpoint, not MTA.

Collective understands that MTA is the future for our industry and therefore has worked to overcome these challenges. We accept MTA tags from any platform our clients use. Clients who manage their entire media buy through our VISTO™ platform benefit from the ability to quickly shift budget between managed platforms as we receive results of MTA reporting and actively optimize their campaigns.

The Dream Of A Well Curated RTB World

Transparency.  Viewability.  Verification.   Our lexicon of the hottest terms in the ad tech space all revolve around a central theme: lack of trust. Looking back to the beginning of real-time ad exchanges, the incredible reach, scale, and targeting abilities of RTB platforms were so transformative for marketers that they didn’t worry as much about fuzzier metrics. However, as the honeymoon phase wore off, the corrupt elements of the RTB universe presented themselves via the results of advertising campaigns and marketers began to demand more from their demand-side platforms (DSPs).

Show Me What’s Happening

Marketers stopped giving the benefit of the doubt to ad impressions bought on exchanges or DSPs, and began to require that platforms prove the value of the media being bought.  This brought about a push for domain-level transparency, the rise of 3rd-party verification companies, and re-energized industry efforts around battling fraud. The burden of proof had shifted onto the media providers, and in the absence of evidence, the new presumption was that the ad impression was unacceptable. Some prominent agency holding companies even began to require 100% viewability from partners.

Best of Both Worlds

For well over a decade, media networks were able to retain the veil of obscurity over their inventory and run successful businesses. However, it would be naïve to claim that verification will be displaced by trust at this point. But what if we could bring together the best of the old, premium inventory media sources with the benefits of the new RTB universe? If traditional marketing benefits (brand-safety, good performance results, desirable audience demographics) could be combined with the benefits of real-time bidding (individual user targeting, massive reach and scale, elastic prices), marketers would realize the high performance of new RTB metrics and see the desired reach of their advertising, all while delivering cost-effective performance objectives. This is the dream of real-time bidding, and one that Collective is turning into a reality. By taking the inventory curation from our premium network, and applying them to the data science-driven optimization of our proprietary real-time bidder, we have removed the fear and doubt from media buying with high performing, highly scaled, brand-safe media.