The explosion of digital media has bred the modern, data-driven, analytically savvy marketer who understands and operates under the known pressure of tracking, measuring, and optimizing every media interaction to generate a positive return on advertising spend.

However, most brand marketers don't operate in the same data-driven manner as their counterparts in direct response. Instead, marketers have traditionally relied on softer metrics, such as reach, brand awareness, and share of voice as the markers of effectiveness.

In the new data-driven environment, many brand marketers are finding themselves in a Catch-22. Despite tightening advertising budgets, they continue to lobby for big investments in branding efforts that they believe work but are unable to quantify across channels.

As pressure to prove value continues to mount, brand marketers must take a closer look at using advanced attribution to quantify the impact of their branding efforts and supplement traditional metrics with more precise, hard results.

Here are three ways that attribution modeling can be applied to unlock brand-focused insights.

1. Attract new audiences

For brand marketers, campaign effectiveness is often measured by reach and site traffic. However, this method often results in hitting the same audiences over and over again.

Because attracting new website visitors is a key component in most marketing strategies, brand marketers need to better understand the effectiveness of display advertising and other online initiatives in driving these new audiences.

Attribution provides the answer, delivering insight into which channels (online display, paid social, etc.) and tactics (placement, size, creative, etc.) are most effective in driving new visitors.

By finding the optimal combinations of channels and tactics to achieve that goal, marketers can improve brand awareness among key audiences and expand the top of the funnel for mid- and lower-funnel tactics to close the deal.

2. Decipher quality over quantity

A lot of spend is often wasted on visitors who only visit a company's site for a short time before leaving.

Brand marketers need to evaluate visitors based on behaviors that indicate their level of consideration. For example, visits that involve a subscription to a newsletter or loyalty program—or anything else that requires submitting an email for future contact—can be considered high-value site engagements and serve as strong markers of consideration.

Once an engagement metric has been determined, attribution can provide insight into how investments made across branding tactics (like online display, video ads, and non-branded paid search) stack up against each other based on their ability to drive highly qualified prospects. Marketers then can better allocate budget.

3. Maximize return on ad spend

Brand marketers often hesitate to look at lower-funnel metrics, such as sales, even if they inherently believe sales are contributing to the bottom line.

Looking at the revenue implications of upper-funnel brand impressions does not have to replace all the other brand media measurement metrics currently in use, but doing so can complement them to create a more holistic picture.

Though the return on ad spend of branding efforts may not be close to that of a mid-funnel retargeting or prospecting campaign, it gives brand marketers a better baseline on which to measure their impact on revenue, and uncover opportunities to invest in those channels and tactics more strongly associated with high returns.

Attribution for branding in action

So, how does attribution for brand marketing look in the real world?

Consider a large retailer that not only runs direct response campaigns to drive online sales but also dedicates a significant portion of its budget to interactive rich media ads, video ads, and other branding tactics designed to drive engagement with the brand and improve critical brand metrics such as awareness, consideration, and favorability.

Prior to implementing advanced attribution, the retailer was unable to quantify the relative worth of these different brand media tactics, or their impact on driving brand engagement.

After implementing attribution, the company's marketers were able to:

  • Incorporate multiple weighted brand engagement activities, including rich media interactions, video ad views, and onsite interactions, into a single brand engagement key performance indicator (KPI).
  • Understand the true lift that each media tactic had on overall brand engagement, so they could better allocate spend.
  • Identify and implement optimizations at a granular level (placement, size, creative, etc.) to increase overall brand engagement.
  • Justify future investment by uncovering which brand engagement activities had the greatest impact on conversion metrics.

For brand marketers increasingly facing the challenge of measuring the impact of their efforts, attribution can be a key tool in uncovering and acting upon hard data.

It's time to change the conversation around attribution as a tool purely for direct response teams and to recognize the valuable role it can play for professionals responsible for moving the needle of brand metrics.

Attribution can serve as a valuable analytics and optimization solution to aid in their efforts.

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Three Ways Marketing Attribution Can Improve Your Brand Marketing Efforts

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image of Yulia Altman

Yulia Altman is client partner at Visual IQ, an advanced marketing attribution provider that offers an advertiser-trusted, publisher-agnostic approach for measuring and optimizing cross channel performance.

LinkedIn: Yulia Altman