Steps to Take Before Building Attribution Model

       First Touch… Last touch… Linear Model… Those are the most popular attribution models which are being offered by the ad-server platforms (DoubleClick) as well as web analytics tools (Coremetrics, SiteCatalyst). However, very often online marketers are willing to make a step further and build a customized attribution model that is based on the statistical analysis, certain built-in assumptions, historical patterns and trends, the industry the company is in, business specifics and many other factors.


       Before the marketer starts building an attribution model he/she should address the below questions:


-        Does the company plan to build an online or combined online and offline attribution model?


       If the company is involved in online activities only, then an online attribution model is the solution. It definitely gets more sophisticated when offline initiatives are being added to the mix.


-        Does the company have enough human, financial and technical resources?


       The marketers should understand that building a custom attribution model is a very challenging process which requires human, technical and financial resources. It is not as easy as going into DoubleClick, for instance, setting up the rules in the Multichannel solution and getting immediate results out of the system as a result of the queries running on the back end.


-        Does the company have access to the data needed (sufficient historical data)? 


       The marketer will at least need the data for the past 12 months.


-        What is the source of the information?


       Is it a web analytics tool or an ad-server platform? Any analytical tool that tracks marketing campaigns’ performance might become a valid source of information.


-        How do the processes work on the back end?


       The marketer should understand how the data is being collected on the back end, how it is being linked and presented in the reports.


       Let’s imagine for a moment that we have enough resources to build an online attribution model and we do have access to the historical data for the past 12 months. The source of the information is DoubleClick. Now we just need to understand how DoubleClick tracks the performance of online campaigns? What data does DoubleClick provide us with?


       DoubleClick offers campaign and conversion trafficking solutions which allow to track impressions and clicks as well as the number of online conversions via Floodlight tags. How does it happen from the technical standpoint? Anytime a user interacts with ad (view or click) served by DoubleClick the cookie is being sent to the visitor’s computer. This cookie contains a unique ID that corresponds to the ad.


       For instance:


 – The visitor clicks on the Ad 1.


- DoubleClick drops a cookie on the user’s computer.


          A few days later:


- The same visitor using the same computer and the same browser clicks on Ad 2.


- Proceeds to the website and converts. Assuming that the confirmation page has a Floodlight tag, it fires off and sends the information to DoubleClick


- DoubleClick pulls the unique ID value from the user’s cookie.


       DoubleClick matches up the cookie ID back to the Floodlight tag to determine which ad should receive credit for the conversion. So, the visitor’s path is being built based upon the cookie’s information and DoubleClick ties the touchpoints together generating a path for each visitor.


       Having access to this data at such a detailed level will allow the marketer to build the attribution model with pre-determined rules.


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