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CFO making it harder to sign off upper funnel budgets? Multi-touch attribution may be the solution


The challenge of expanding beyond Google & Facebook

Before Apple introduced its iOS 14 change, we would regularly speak to advertisers that had identified an over-reliance on Facebook and Google. It was obvious their customers existed on other platforms and websites, but the issue was they could not demonstrate ROI or any meaningful financial benefit outside the big two players. This often meant, that when it came to securing budgets, all other media options were deemed inefficient in terms of CPA and ROAS.

Fast forward from Spring 21, to the impact of the IOS14 changes, and the resulting loss of individual-level targeting and today’s conversation has moved on. What we are regularly hearing now is that only Google can demonstrate ROI, which means making the case to Finance Teams and budget holders to test new channels is harder than ever.  

For most, scale beyond a certain point, with absolute certainty on the performance of each channel, is extremely problematic and has deterred brands from diversifying their media options. The reality is that metrics like unique visitor volumes, and CPC’s do not cut it with budget holders as they require demonstrable returns to justify investment.

The challenge of last-click reporting

When looking at basic analytics platforms, a common picture is that Google, organic, direct and email are delivering the lion’s share of conversions and are generating amazing CPAs and ROAS. While the upper-funnel channels such as Facebook, TikTok, Snap, Pinterest and mainstream publisher sites are “Not working.” How “Not working” is defined is that the last click CPA is nowhere near where it needs to be. Looking through the last click lens, making the decision to switch off upper funnel activity is easy, as the CPAs can be over 10x what you are seeing in Google. 

However, anyone that has turned off upper funnel activity, will see direct and organic sales drop. Branded and high-intent search volumes will also reduce, and your email list will stop growing, along with the revenue that it generates. Sales will not be affected overnight – it will happen over a period, but soon enough you can be sure that growth will decline.

The reason for this is simple. Channels such as Facebook, Display, Snap, Pinterest, Twitter, and a whole heap of other great publisher sites are generating the interest and awareness (the first click at the very least!). But because people do not all buy at the first visit, the last click channels are claiming all the credit because of the attribution model.

So does everything other than Google work? No, not at all. But some of the upper-funnel activity must be working right? The key is to understand which bits are working – and that requires a huge focus on measurement, understanding and reporting.

The post-privacy world requires that brands work within the current privacy framework to create data points that enable measurement and decision making. This could start with simple and low-cost tracking measures, such as creating a structure within GA that allows you to optimize using analytics metrics, such as dwell time, pages viewed, and specific site destinations that can be used to identify high intent traffic sources. However, this requires constant optimization, and does not provide the full picture.

Attribution – Real ROI data that finance teams will believe in

The next step up, and something that is now more cost-effective than ever, is attribution software. You can now access the full multi-touch picture for as little as £500 a month. This minor investment can provide insight that will enable you to look beyond last click, and fully understand the impact of all your media; from the first click to ongoing purchases and lifetime value.

The challenge with attribution, is that the options are endless. With everything from session behaviour, multi-touch, impression-based, incrementality, and media mix modelling on the table. Each will have its own approach and combination of AI / machine learning (in short, their superpowers) All of which are proprietary and claim life-changing results. This is great if you are an attribution geek, and I say that speaking as one. But it is also highly complex, and time-consuming to understand the options enabling you to select the right platform.

Which is the right Platform & how much will it cost?

The reality is that there are many good platforms available. The key is in matching your business model, user experience, tech stack and media spend to the right platform, at the right price. For example, an ecommerce brand that uses Shopify and Klaviyo, with a £20k monthly spend, will need a different attribution solution to a global subscription brand that has a custom site, billing system and a £250k monthly ad spend.

It is for this reason that at Planit, we took the decision not to build our own platform. Instead, we decided to carry out research on the solutions available, so that we can ensure our clients have the best solution for them, giving them the actionable insight they need to meet their objectives, within their budget.

At Planit we adopt a measurement-first culture. This approach underpins everything we do with data, analysis, and measurement. Its increasingly important to ensure that the right tracking and reporting is in place so that all parties can quickly agree on the results and impact of each channel, focusing on how to improve the numbers, rather than what the number is.

Part of our onboarding service is to carry out a measurement and analytics deep dive to ensure that the reporting will provide our advertisers with what they need to be able to diversify and scale. Where we see gaps, we can then oversee a review of the most relevant platforms, reducing the time spent by using our knowledge and experience. Once the selection has been made, we then assist with all elements of onboarding, analysis, testing, and optimization.

As part of this process, we are now able to demonstrate the role that all parts of the media mix, play in generating new high-value customers, and their subsequent lifetime value.

The interesting thing is that we are better placed than ever to assist our advertisers to grow their business, through retention, cross-sell, and use of owned channels which reduces their dependency on paid media. This often means that media spend is reduced to invest in CRM, creative, and owned channels

If you would like to understand more about how this works in practice, then please contact me steve.cox@planit.co.uk or Sam.douglas@planit.co.uk

Planit is a performance marketing agency that provides paid media & affiliate marketing services to both Enterprise and early-stage businesses.

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