Study: 3 in 4 Marketers Think “Perfect Attribution” Is Impossible

The number of marketers realizing the power of location data and tech for digital attribution continues to grow. However, many remain engaged in methods such as last-click, first-click, post-click, first-touch etc.

A new Econsultancy study produced in association with AdRoll (featured on MarketingCharts) surveyed 590 marketers in the UK, France and Germany, finding that almost three-quarters of respondents felt a “perfect attribution model” was impossible. In other words, according to these marketers, digital marketing efficacy remains unclear with no definitive method for determining how digital impacts bottom lines.

This lack of faith in data and technology to address the attribution challenge is a response to the limitations of current methods. While 48% utilized last-click attribution methods (the most of all methods featured), it was seen as one of the least effective with just 29% of users perceiving it to be “very effective.”

There was another interesting conclusion from the study. Based on attribution data and insights, these European marketers are more likely to decrease (46%) than increase (28%) spending across digital channels. In other words, attribution data are taking marketing dollars out of digital more than putting dollars into it.

There is no doubt that digital media is integral to the path to purchase by aiding in the omni-channel consumer. The problem is that attribution methods may not be adequately following the consumer from digital research to purchase.


As the chart above shows, there were also some interesting variations from channel to channel. For instance, 51% grew paid search budgets while only 25% decreased as a result of attribution data. Paid search attribution data is driving marketers to add more budget to the channel than decrease, which suggests marketers are seeing stronger performance than other channels.

Though paid search attribution data suggests strong ROI for marketers, other channels may be delivering similar results. The problem is current attribution methods fail to paint a complete and accurate picture of how the media helped drive an online or offline purchase.

Attribution remains a moving target for digital marketers which is precisely why location intelligence has emerged as an alternative to current attribution models. Location tactics weren’t part of the study, but it will be interesting to see how location challenges the industry’s approach to proving ROI.

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