3 Ways Media Attribution Can Make Your Marketing Campaigns Better

Matt Hertig Blog

Media attribution can be incredibly useful for optimizing your campaigns and spending your advertising budget more effectively. 

But it’s not a great way to show that your paid media is generating more sales and revenue — the bottom-line metrics that your stakeholders really care about. Unfortunately, this is still one of the most common mistakes we see marketers make with their campaign data. 

What Is Media Attribution? 

Media attribution is when you connect a top-of-funnel media touchpoint (like a search ad or a social post) to a conversion activity, such as a site visit or an online purchase.

Let’s say someone sees your search ad and clicks on it, which takes them to a landing page on your website, where they submit a form. With media attribution, you can draw a line from that ad to the conversion. 

It’s trickier in real life. 

You’re probably using multiple channels to reach your audience — not just search ads, but social media and retargeted display ads, too. And each of those platforms is “greedy.” They all have tracking that shows them if someone who saw the ad they served goes on and completes a conversion. That allows their platform to take credit. 

So if Bob encounters one of your search ads, one of your social posts and one of your display ads before he buys something on your website?

Each platform reports a conversion. Got it? That’s a total of three conversions … even though you only made one sale. 

If you walk into a meeting with a report and say you created three conversions — but everyone knows there was just one sale — you’re going to create distrust with your stakeholders. And you’re going to look a little bit silly because you’re creating a narrative that doesn’t exist in reality.

How to Use Media Attribution Effectively

Don’t rely on media attribution to show paid media’s impact on revenue. Instead, use it for the three following tasks: 

Comparing performance across media platforms
Alight’s Cross-Channel Media Dashboard includes an interactive table that lets users drill into performance by channel, data source, campaign and other filters.

If I’m a campaign manager who needs to optimize my spend, I want to see which channels have the highest numbers of conversions and the highest conversion rates, so I can give them more money. Media attribution can help you do that. 

One way to make that easier? Get a marketing dashboard that pulls all your campaign data, including conversion numbers, into a single place so it’s easier to make those comparisons.

Optimizing media spend within a campaign
Alight’s Paid Search Dashboard helps users identify their most effective keywords.

If you’ve set up your UTM parameters correctly, you can see which keywords and creative are more effective at leading someone to your website. And that’s incredibly helpful for optimization. You can go into your media platform and turn off the low-performing ads, then redirect your money to the ones that are working. 

Compare click-through vs. view-through performance
With Alight’s Display Dashboard, you can filter between view-through and click-through conversions.

It can be good to know which conversions are view-through and which are click-through because they clue you into which channels are more effective at different points in the buyer’s journey. 

View-through conversions are more closely linked to awareness. Someone sees your ad, but don’t click on the specific ad they saw. Display ads are usually linked to view-through conversions. 

Click-through conversions are a barometer for people who are closer to taking an action. Search ads, for example, tend to have more click-through conversions because the buyer has usually completed their research and is ready to take action. 

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Moral of the story: Don’t use media attribution to show your impact on revenue and other measures of business performance. A data-driven attribution model would be a better choice because it can marry together all your data — including revenue and cost-of-media data — to more accurately award conversion credit. 

Instead, use your media data to make your campaigns as effective and efficient as possible!

Multi-Channel Attribution Made Simple

Alight’s end-to-end analytics solutions feature multi-channel attribution models, built right into Power BI or Tableau, to help you reduce the time and cost to generate a conversion. Schedule a free solution consultation with our team!