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September 7th, 2017

Unshackling the Limitations of Multi-Touch Attribution

Imagine you’re asked to buy a brand new wardrobe for a randomly selected person, but you know nothing about them. And when I say nothing, I don’t just mean you don’t know their preferred style, color palette, what is and isn’t currently in their closet, or their size. I mean you have literally no information to work with to get you started. No age, no gender, no occupation — nothing. You’d be completely lost, right? How could you possibly start without even having the basics to work with?

Knowing your customer is at the very heart of marketing. Widely varying needs, preferences, and buying patterns for each customer segment require a unique conversation across each of the online and offline marketing channels. That’s why it’s pretty shocking how much marketers limit themselves — knowingly or otherwise — when it comes to Multi-touch attribution (MTA).

What exactly is multi-touch attribution?

Multi-touch attribution is how marketers determine the value/effectiveness of each of the customer touchpoints on the way to conversion — in other words, the factors that actually made the customer buy your product. Back in the dark ages of digital, marketers often relied on a last-touch attribution model that awarded all the credit for a purchase to the last thing a customer saw or did. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very smart or nuanced way of measuring marketing.

With the rise of MTA, marketers had a more sophisticated way to understand, learn from, and even optimize campaigns in-flight, ensuring the highest possible ROI for their efforts. Sounds good, right? With MTA, marketers should have everything they need, yes?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Here’s the problem: MTA is very often just an aggregated number for each channel. There’s no granularity, no nuance, no acknowledgement or recognition that different types of customers respond differently to different marketing tactics. It’s a media-centric measurement, without regard to the unique needs of each audience. So, the moment marketers try to use MTA alone to inform their strategy or to activate on learnings, things can fall apart quickly.

Should marketers abandon multi-touch attribution?

Absolutely not — MTA is still an incredibly important and useful tool to have in your marketing toolkit. But what MTA needs to optimally effective is the added power of a marketing mix model (a broader view of marketing effectiveness than media mix modeling) to create a unified analytics solution that is holistic, integrated, accurate and actionable.

The Neustar Marketshare unified attribution solution--grounded in trusted identity--enables marketers to understand how campaigns are performing through the lens of an audience. This is a game-changer. It means marketers can optimize campaigns uniquely/separately against each of your key audience segments. In essence, it’s “people-based” attribution. This is a level of insight that marketers couldn’t get previously when using MTA alone.

Team that with Neustar customer intelligence solutions to ensure high data quality, our onboarding and activation-supporting IDMP, and now it’s not just about measurement. You’ll also be able to manage, activate and optimize on those same audience insights for campaigns currently in-flight across every single one of your marketing channels. And you can do so without the data loss, time suck, and reduced reach that comes from having to use multiple vendors.


Click here to learn more about Neustar Marketshare's unified customer analytics and attribution solution.

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