1attributionIn general, companies use marketing attribution software to determine how their marketing activities and campaigns contribute to sales revenue during the prospecting and sales processes. Getting the desired insights, however, is often easier said than done, since a closed sale is normally the result of a combination of several factors and conditions. Hence, it’s not easy to identify what really tips the scale for making a purchase.

For that reason, marketing attribution software is usually a hub software, pulling in data from other marketing and software tools. It commonly integrates with software solutions used by sales, marketing and public relations to helps marketers identify which channels or campaign tactics deliver the best return on investment and to tell what works and what doesn’t.

With today’s digital technologies becoming more sophisticated by the day, and the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence, some believe that a ‘grand unified attribution model’, that encompasses all online and offline data, will soon become a reality. For others, like AdRoll’s Managing Director APAC, Ben Sharp, however, “given attribution is more an art than a science”, making staff’s experience critical.

In the company’s whitepaper Attribution: Building a Business Case for Attribution, he points out as well not to fall for the common misconception that machines can make the decisions, stating, “programmatic advertising has created a sense that decision-making can be outsourced entirely to the software. Supply- and demand-side platforms, retargeting and, lately, data management platforms have all added to the growing expectation around algorithmic perfection. But in the real world of attribution as it sits today, it might be time to reassess this view. The message from practitioners is that an all-encompassing attribution model based on one grand unifying theory of everything will never actually exist. With their spreadsheets and their simple last-click models, the danger is that marketers ignore this warning and wait too long for a solution that will never be delivered. Instead, the message from the experts is ‘don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’ Attribution is not about being 100% right all the time. There are still great leaps to be made simply by being ‘less wrong’.”

So, if the machines won’t do all the heavy lifting, delivering the best outcomes will ultimately depend on the skills of the marketers and business analysts, along with the help they receive from agencies and vendors— and of course their platforms.

There is, for instance, a well-arranged list of the top attribution advertising companies on Thalamus’ website  that could be useful, another one is provided by VentureRadar or DataFox, just to provide a few, where the best Attribution Software vendors are usually determined by customer satisfaction (based on user reviews) and scale (based on market share, vendor size, and social impact).

Considering that attribution is key for marketers looking to optimize media channels in today’s increasingly fragmented world, it came as a surprise to read that adoption of attribution has been slow. But that’s what the research provider eMarketer revealed in one of its latest reports, even lists a few reasons why that is so, such as lack of knowledge or experience or time and money issues.

Anyway, marketers at least seem to have finally started to put a spotlight on attribution, as surveys from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Data Center of Excellence and the Winterberry Group, or the programmatic advertising platform Rocket Fuel, reveal. We’ll see how the trend will gain momentum in the future.

By Daniela La Marca