MTA is Dead but Attribution Lives On

MTAis dead but attribution lives on

Trevor Testwuide, Expert in Business Strategy and Marketing Measurement

Published 03/24/2021

Google Shuts Down Tracking.

Apple’s iOS 14 Kills IDFA.

Facebook Closes Attribution Windows, Disables Lift Testing.

Recent moves by big tech companies are just the latest in a series of privacy-driven events contributing to an upheaval in the ad industry that was set in motion years ago. Headlines would have us believe that the latest “bombshell” from Google and the “war” between

Apple and Facebook
signal the coming of an advertising apocalypse, but let’s be honest. We all saw this coming. Third-party data and tracking people on their devices as they move about the internet was never a sustainable method of measurement. Privacy issues aside, with each new channel added to the digital marketing toolbox, comes another level of added complexity. In theory, multi-touch attribution was an elegant solution for measuring advertising ROI, but there is a reason it never really got off the ground. It’s hard. It’s expensive. It’s complicated. And now, without user-level tracking, it’s impossible. We pronounced MTA dead years ago when we started Measured.

The latest flurry of announcements, delivering another blow to advertisers in the name of privacy, should be a reality check for brands that haven’t already begun to contemplate a first-party data strategy. If you fall into that category, don’t worry, it’s not too late to get your house in order and adapt your approach, without taking a hit to your media effectiveness. We’ve spent the last five years preparing for this moment.

Anticipating the degradation of ID-tracking, Measured bet on incrementality testing and cohort-analytics as the future of measurement. It’s an effective solution to the inherent conflict between performance measurement and privacy. Advertisers don't want to be creepy, and you probably don’t want to know the details of what individuals are doing online. You just want an effective way to optimize advertising for revenue growth. That’s where carefully designed and executed experiments to measure incrementality can deliver.

Our team has developed and continuously updates scientifically proven experiments that enable advertisers to easily adapt whenever the other shoe drops. Is Facebook going to disable holdout lift testing in Ads Manager? We don’t know, but if it happens, we’ve got geo-testing perfected and ready to go on any platform. Is there a startling discrepancy between your report from Google Analytics and last-touch metrics from a platform? We’ll help you reconcile reports to reveal the true incremental contribution of your media.

Fear of the unknown and the doubt being stirred up by dramatic reactions and sensationalized headlines have the industry scrambling for a solution to the loss of pixels and cookies. Workarounds exist, but one by one those loopholes will eventually be shut down. Advertisers don’t have time to wait for the industry to deliver on its idea of a new addressability standard. And homegrown solutions from Google and Apple require advertisers to trust them to report on their own performance. Not ideal for obvious reasons.

Our message to advertisers out there who are worked up about what to do when the ID end is nigh is to take a deep breath and revisit the business problem you are trying to solve. You don’t need to track at the user level to be effective. Incrementality measurement isn’t susceptible to self-reporting bias from platforms and it provides enough insight to make smart, data-driven media investment decisions. We did all the heavy lifting already so we can support you in this moment. Sometimes the best solution is the simple one.

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