How Attribution Analysis Can Drive Better Budget Allocation

Oliver Borm, Jonathan Mulligan / January 2016

As a result of employing a robust attribution model, Hertz can now accurately attribute value to marketing efforts throughout the purchase funnel.

Hertz has successfully moved from a basic view of marketing performance to a more accurate way of accrediting conversions thanks to data-driven attribution. It can now measure the efficiency of upper-funnel marketing much more effectively. In the case of display prospecting, Hertz measured 45X more conversions and optimised budget allocation accordingly.

The most commonly employed solution for measuring the effectiveness of online advertising is an attribution model. Simply put, an attribution model is a methodology for distributing the credit for a given conversion between the preceding interactions. Most advertisers opt for an attribution model that distributes all credit for a conversion to the last interaction (or “last click”) and in doing so, rejects any contribution of earlier interactions.

In a less complex online ad space, where users were likely to engage with just one or two ads before converting, a last click attribution model was a useful gauge to the effectiveness of the advertising. However, users are now likely to have engaged with multiple ads before transacting online and a last click attribution model no longer reflects the consumer decision journey.

Hertz recognised that measuring the effectiveness of ads at all stages of the decision-making process could provide a competitive advantage over less digitally sophisticated competitors. The company explored the world of attribution with the help of Forward3D to find a more accurate measurement solution.

Today, industry-leading attribution solutions are grounded in data-driven algorithms. There are competing implementations, but each shares a central principle: the distribution of credit between ads is determined by analysing the observed contribution of each interaction to the customer path to purchase. To successfully deploy a data-driven attribution solution it is necessary to unify data from various sources. Marketers need to have a complete view of all ads a user engages with prior to conversion. This view should include ad clicks, impressions, and conversions across devices at the user level. Combining this knowledge with CRM data produces the rich Single Customer View (SCV) data set.

It can be a challenge to collate the data for a SCV, so selecting a versatile analytics platform with extensive integration capabilities is a crucial step. Hertz partnered with Google Analytics Premium (GAP), which provides analytics, data integration, and data-driven attribution capabilities, along with specialist technical support. Hertz, Forward3D and Google worked together to unify the data from all relevant sources on one platform to create the SCV. Hertz validated the data with help from its partners and then began to interpret the results of data-driven attribution. The insights extracted radically shifted Hertz’s view of online marketing performance.

There were big changes in attributed performance, with Generic Search and Social delivering significantly more conversions than previously measured. The key discovery was how much Display advertising had been undervalued, with more than 300-400% more conversions attributed to the channel. This understanding would not have been possible without GAP integration with DoubleClick, and the subsequent importing of display impression data.

Hertz is not limited to channel level insights. Reporting is now in place to evaluate display buys by type, platform, and even creative. Granular data provides insights for in-channel optimisation so marketers can move budget to successful platforms and creatives. Plans are in place to use data driven attribution to optimise paid search bidding—the linking of Adwords and GAP enables attribution data at the keyword level—and this could have a huge impact on traffic and revenue from generic search terms.

Thanks to a more accurate view of channel effectiveness, Hertz is in a position to invest marketing budgets more efficiently, achieving better results. Furthermore, Hertz now has potential to roll out this measurement strategy beyond the UK into international markets.

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