Then and Now: The Attribution of Marketing (Mother’s Day Edition)

Just coming off of the holiday weekend, I thought: “What if the concept of attribution was applied to Mothers?”

We are in this constant battle on how to determine which channel performed the best and who deserves more money or investments. It quickly becomes a competition for dollars or worse - that glaring red color in Excel highlighting a negative ROI after applying some long, complicated allocation formula.

Don’t get me wrong – measurement is important. However, let’s consider this use case:

  • Mom comes in and hugs your sibling first. Your performance for the day goes down.  (i.e. Site Visitor  receives retargeting, while another does not)
  • You opened your lunch and it had a special note from Mom.  Guess what? You outperform on all your quizzes.  (i.e. Consumer gets a personalized email)
  • You try on a new outfit and Mom says, “You look fantastic!” You smile, change and buy the outfit (i.e. Influencer Marketing)
  • Mom’s gone for the weekend. Party!  Everybody is feeling good  (i.e. Social Media spend up 100%)
  • Too much partying; all bio metrics down.  Mom finds out about the party and is upset; you are disappointed in yourself and the house is a mess. Mom was not responsible for the party, but feels that she should have somehow prevented it from happening (i.e. Did not send catalog now web traffic is down)
  • Mom is gone too long – where is she?  Everybody (including Dad, kids and pets) are looking for her. Chaos ensues  (i.e. Who turned off search, catalog, social at the same time?)
  • Building a relationship over time is what Moms are about.  And likewise, brands are doing what is necessary and giving the right message over time. How do you measure this?

20 years ago, marketing was simpler but less accessible. We were intensely familiar with the couple of channels available and for the most part decided when a customer engaged with our marketing making it easier to measure.

Today, it is harder but simpler. There are a myriad of channels to use around the clock while the customer decides when and where to engage, if at all. 

Clients ask us, “How do you apply an attribution model to a moment of marketing?  What is the last touch, the first touch, the ongoing persistence, the combination?”  We reply: “Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes! Right on track.”  Lately, we have seen a recent trend away from overly complex, expensive attribution systems focused on hyper-allocating performance for a channel, to a more assessment type of approach revolving around the customer. We instead ask, “Did the collective experience of interactions produce better results?”

Yet, as marketers we must know why – specifically, in numbers.  We maintain hope and drive that “the art” will be able to measured by “the science.”  In my opinion, we should because it pushes analytics forward.  We just need to remember that just like our Moms, it is the combination of timing, persistence and consistency over time that makes marketing strategies work, which is not always as measureable.  Even more so, the relentless perseverance to do it better each time and evolve as our customers evolve, is what separates the successful, profitable brands from the others.

 It feels like everything is moving so fast… just remember that our Mothers are the “Ultimate Alexa”.  You call out things to her – “I’m hungry!” “I need more laundry detergent!” “What time is the movie tonight?” and your needs are met typically under a one hour delivery window. As fast as computers are, the technology is still catching up.

We hope you enjoyed this fun analogy. As always, we are happy to answer any questions and support you in your efforts to optimize (and measure) marketing for your brand.