Google Attribution is a free and easy way to evaluate marketing efforts
At Google’s Marketing Next conference, the company is announcing a new beta for Google Attribution, a free tool for examining the role that different marketing strategies play in customer purchasing decisions.
Regardless of device or marketing channel, Google wants Attribution to be a home for evaluating marketing campaigns. By creating a tight loop between strategy, ad spend and feedback, Google aims to make the tool attractive to marketers that feel last-click models don’t sufficiently explain customer behavior.
A panacea for attribution is not a new construct in the world of marketing. Companies like Adobe and startups like BrightFunnel and Bizible have been developing tools for years that allow marketers to break the old last-click paradigm.
Up until recently, most marketers would credit any sale to the last touchpoint a their company had with a customer. This flawed strategy allows marketers to quantitatively evaluate marketing campaigns, but its more of a heuristic than a ground truth.
New machine learning-powered methods enable marketers to model the relative contribution of disparate advertising efforts. This is a much more informative method of evaluation. In the real world, video ads, banner ads, emails and other materials all work in consonance to drive conversions — it doesn’t make sense for the final social media ad to get all the credit.
“We capture the clicks, as long as there was a click, we can, for example, say how many of the conversations were from the social channel,” explained Babak Pahlavan, Google’s senior director of product management for analytics and measurement, in an interview.
Google Attribution should offer marketers a clearer picture of their efforts to facilitate a more accurate cost-benefit analysis. We haven’t gotten our hands on Google Attribution yet so its hard to say how its performance stacks up against its peers. That said, Google doesn’t seem to be arguing that the tool’s superiority is a product of performance.
Instead, Google is touting ease of use, copious integrations and zero cost (for some). The company does plan on charging for its enterprise pro deployment, but even so, Google’s scale is dangerous.
Google’s attribution efforts kicked into high gear back in 2014 when the company acquired Adometry, a startup specializing in measuring marketing impact. Adometry was quickly transformed into Attribution 360 and rolled out as part of Google’s Analytics 360 Suite. The last two years has been about rebuilding the tool on the Google stack and simplifying it, Pahlavan told me.
For now, Google Attribution is stuck in beta, but the company says that advertisers should expect a deeper roll out in the near future.
Ritson: P&G’s Marc Pritchard has made the biggest marketing speech for 20 years
Marc Pritchard is not a big man. There is no definitive reference to his actual height in any of the extensive bios of Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer but, if I had to guess, I’d say he stands about 5’11” in his stocking feet. On Sunday, however, Pritchard cast a very long shadow across digital marketing and beyond it to the future of global brand communications.
He has made big speeches before, several quite revealing. But at the weekend he obviously decided to deliver four different gigantic messages in one simple speech to a presumably startled audience at the Internet Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership shindig in Florida.
First up was the increasingly dodgy world of programmatic, and specifically the long list of ad tech vendors who each “punch their ticket” and take a significant slice of the client’s media investment long before it ever reaches a publisher or platform.
“We serve ads to consumers through a non-transparent media supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and methbot fraud,” Pritchard announced.
His claim that this supply chain is “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst” is the clearest signal yet that client companies are finally starting to question the gleaming technological promises that were made about programmatic and digital media in general. Of the four areas of improvement this was perhaps among the most important but also the least specific in terms of action steps to remedy the situation.
Second, Pritchard talked viewability standards. Comparing the current chaotic variations in what constitutes a view on different digital sites to a football game in which each team sets their own definitions of a goal, Pritchard spoke with apparent frustration about the “enormous” amount of work his teams had put into monitoring the disparate viewability approaches of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Pandora, YouTube and others.
Then, quite abruptly, he called time on the whole charade and announced that P&G was adopting the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard and would expect all its agencies and media suppliers to follow them before the end of the year. Just like that. Bang!
This is a mixed message for marketers. The good news is that a single viewability standard is much needed. But the MRC thresholds for viewability are on the lighter end of the spectrum requiring only that at least half the ad be visible for one second for display advertising and two seconds for digital video. This is a very low bar but, if P&G gets its way, it could well render any half-glimpsed two-second video as being “viewed” for many years to come.
Pritchard was not done yet. In the biggest move of the speech, he decried the closed measurement systems of Google and Facebook. He offered up a “confession” that when P&G first embarked upon digital advertising it had traded its usual rigour for the first-mover advantage that these “latest shiny objects” might confer.
Well, Pritchard continued, “we have come to our senses” and will no longer accept publisher self-reporting without external verification.
By the end of the year P&G expects all its partners to adopt third-party, accredited verification of audience numbers. The “gig is up” he told his by now spellbound audience. The P&G shears are coming out and the “walled gardens” are about to be pruned back.
Finally, as if that was not enough, Pritchard moved to agency transparency and the fallout from the 2016 ANA report on media agency contracts and remuneration.
At the time I commented that the big surprise in the report was the number of clients who literally had no clue that there were shenanigans afoot in the industry and with their media budgets.
Time and again marketers were interviewed in that report who clearly had no idea what had been going on. Remarkably Pritchard confirmed that P&G was very much part of that ignorant group.
Apparently, after the ANA report was published P&G did its own digging and found an agency contract that allowed the agency to act as a principal and earn undisclosed commission on media it sold to P&G. These so-called ‘sur-commissions’ were at the heart of the ANA report and Pritchard’s response to the fact that P&G was unknowingly embroiled in the issues was immediate. The company is now “poring over every agency contract for full transparency by the end of 2017”.
Again, the implications for marketers are enormous. If P&G – the biggest, smartest and usually most fastidious advertiser in the world – can find itself on the receiving end of sur-commissions it’s clear that any client company could also fall victim. Careful scrutiny of media contracts, commissions and the procurement of production companies should not just be a focus for P&G but all advertisers from this point onwards.
It’s easy to resort to hyperbole in columns like this. But I have thought long and hard about the sentence that follows this one. This is, by some way, the most important speech in marketing since Unilever’s then-CEO Niall FitzGerald laid out his “path to growth” in 1999 and started the era of brand consolidation that continues to this day.
In one short speech Pritchard attempted to reassert P&G’s leadership position as the most important marketing company in the world, make programmatic ad buying transparent, fix global viewability standards, remove the walled gardens and establish a new level of probity in all agency contracts.
Whether he and P&G will succeed is an entirely different question. It was a bold speech with a clear timeline that demands everything be done by the end of this year. But we live in a digital duopoly. While P&G and its $7bn annual ad spend makes it the biggest player in town, the game itself is owned and run by two global behemoths in Google and Facebook that are, respectively, two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half times bigger than P&G.
It would appear unlikely that either Google or Facebook would let P&G dictate terms to them. It seems even more unlikely that the walled gardens could be brought down with just one simple speech.
Nonetheless, Pritchard just wrote his name into the annals of marketing history. More importantly, his speech on Sunday signals the end of the early stage of digital advertising and the beginning of its maturity as the biggest single form of advertising in the world.
Pritchard admitted as much at the end of his speech. “We’ve been giving a pass to the new media in the spirit of learning,” he explained. “We’ve come to our senses. We realise there is no sustainable advantage in a complicated, non-transparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain.”
Time will tell whether others will come to the same realisation. There can be no bigger question in marketing in 2017 than that; or, indeed, any more dramatic or eloquent way to pose it. We are about to find out how far Marc Pritchard’s shadow will stretch.
WhatsApp Tests Its Version of Snapchat Stories
If Facebook can copy Snapchat and Instagram can copy Snapchat, why shouldn’t WhatsApp copy Snapchat?
Manish Singh of Mashable reported that the Facebook-owned messaging application is testing a feature called Status that mirrors Snapchat Stories.
According to Singh, the Status feature is included in the newest public beta versions of WhatsApp’s iOS and Android apps, and it allows users to share multiple updates in one day, including photos and videos, as well as to include photos and videos from their libraries and the ability to doodle over that content and add text.
Singh added that the feature only works on jailbroken iPhones or rooted Android phones, and Ritesh Bendre of BGR India added that Android users must download this app in order to use Status.
From Insight to Action: How Data-Driven Marketing Is Supporting Big Decisions
Data analytics can work wonders. Highly datadriven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvement in decisionmaking, according to PwC research. Yet, 62% of executives still rely more on experience and advice than data to make decisions.
Why? We all like to believe in our own instincts, but while that may be natural, it's not sensible. Today's true leaders in marketing and data analytics are ignoring hunches and using advanced technology and machine learning to increase speed to insight—and to action. And those organizations that have committed to turning data into action are transforming their businesses.
Progressive, the 79-year-old insurance company known for its fictional spokesperson "Flo," is one company where data doesn't just talk, it drives action. "Data is really the bread and butter for us," said Pawan Divakarla, data and business analytics leader at Progressive. "It's not a person or a thing; it's virtual bits and bytes. But we have a reverence for data and when you think of it that way, you treat it with respect."
Harness the right data
Critically, that reverence for data must begin at the very top. At Progressive and elsewhere, executive support is an essential component for selling the value of data analytics throughout an organization. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey3, participants ranked senior-management involvement as the factor contributing the most to their effectiveness with data and analytics.
But welcoming a deluge of data and getting support from the top still isn't enough. If it's not the right information, it won't support big decisions. Companies must harness the right data to uncover insights. Only then can business decisions made previously on instinct be guided by data. "Traditionally, we have relied on experts to gather these insights from data," said Sagnik Nandy, distinguished engineer at Google. "A data-driven organization wants this to happen automatically." And now it can.
To learn how top marketers like Progressive and Macy's overcame their biggest challenges with an insights-driven approach to decision-making, access the full white paper from MIT, "How Analytics and Machine Learning Help Organizations Reap Competitive Advantage." Putting the focus on data can be daunting at a time when consumers have real-time expectations for companies, and brands need to be there in the moments people need to know, go, do, or buy. "It's challenging to be in control of your data universe because there's so much happening," Sagnik said. "There's application data, customer-survey information, attribution, advertising. There are millions of pieces of data floating around."
Mobile takes the lead
Mobile is just another source of data that can be integrated to provide a more holistic view of the customer journey. More Google searches are taking place on smartphones than on desktops and laptops—globally.4 And across the millions of websites using Google Analytics, more than half of all web traffic is now coming from smartphones and tablets.5 But many companies struggle with exactly how to manage and integrate mobile data. "People are still thinking of mobile as something different," Sagnik said. "But we're at the point where mobile is the status quo."
Source: Google Analytics Data, U.S., Q1 2016.
At Progressive, data insights helped improve customers' experience with its mobile app. "When we launched our mobile application, it was just quote-only," Pawan said. But the team recognized its mobile users wanted to do more than simply get information. "We said, 'It looks like, from the data, people are attempting to buy, and so we should put buyrelated software up there,'" Pawan explained. "It was a really big 'aha' moment."
To lead successful data-driven initiatives like Progressive, analytics executives must overcome challenges in three areas: accumulation, analysis, and action. Put another way, analytics leaders need to be able to easily integrate more data sources, harness advanced technology for faster and more sophisticated analyses, and extract insights that lead to improved business performance.
By using analytics solutions, including Google Analytics 360 Suite, to integrate data sources and machine learning to analyze the data trail that people constantly create, organizations like Progressive can gather more (and more valuable) insights and improve the customer experience—often without human intervention.
"People have very fundamental needs when it comes to analyzing information, and machine learning can help them focus on what really matters," Sagnik said. "Rather than just reporting information and telling you what's wrong, machine learning technology can help you fix it." And if things are going well? "Machine learning can help you do more of what's working—and do it automatically."
Businesses like Progressive and Macy's that successfully value data over intuition tend to focus on three A's: accumulation, analysis, and action. For more on all three, access the full white paper from MIT, "How Analytics and Machine Learning Help Organizations Reap Competitive Advantage."
5 Online Video Trends to Inform Your 2017 Media Plan
When it comes to online video, one word summarizes the trends in consumer behavior: “more.” The insights below show consumers are spending more time on more devices with more focus and passion for online video than ever. Does online video deserve more of a role in your 2017 media plan as a result?