Rethinking Attribution After GA4
Navigating GA4’s challenges requires an integrated, forward thinking approach
Marketers are being pursued by a growing crowd of measurement providers, making a lot of conflicting claims.
Because increasing data privacy restrictions have significantly hampered user-level tracking, many marketers are now on the hunt for a reliable way to measure and optimize their media. Competition in the attribution space is heating up to levels we haven’t seen since the early days of multi-touch attribution (MTA).
We were recently sent a marketing piece, being promoted by another attribution vendor, suggesting that Measured is an incomplete solution with limited value. Promoting false information about modern attribution is a common tactic used by vendors that are still clinging to MTA as a valid approach for measuring cross-channel performance – but it just doesn’t work.
Any measurement that still relies on user-level path building across platforms cannot be trusted to tell you where to spend your valuable advertising dollars. Tracking users for attribution was never a perfect strategy and it lost any viability it had when Apple introduced iOS 14.5. The remaining fragmented click-paths have an inevitable expiration date with the pending death of cookies. Filling in the significant gaps with click-based modeling or synthetically generated touchpoints can be dangerously misleading.
The only way to identify the true incremental contribution of media to business outcomes is to measure those media investments against actual transaction (sales) data that only the brand can provide. We call this incrementality-based attribution. It’s what Measured has been deploying for six years and it’s an approach continuously validated by our successful customers.
As I address the claims made by these MTA players trying to keep old, out-of-date methodologies alive, you will see why optimizing for incrementality is the most effective way to maximize media efficiency and uncover opportunities to grow.
MTA vendors that are concerned about losing customers to Measured are using two key messages to downplay the gains brands can achieve with incrementality-based attribution:
1. Measured only runs experiments.
2. Experiments are bad.
While the valuable insights Measured provides for brands to optimize their ad spend are all informed by incrementality, it is misleading to suggest experiments are all we do.
♦ We run test and control experiments because that is the only way to measure the true incremental contribution of media, without tracking users or relying on flawed last-click attribution reported by ad platforms.
♦ Measured has run tens of thousands of successful experiments, for hundreds of growing brands. Using the Measured platform, you can tap into this vast, continuously growing pool of incrementality data to optimize your entire media portfolio – without running any experiments at all.
♦ If you want to dig deeper into something specific or explore new channels and tactics, we’ve automated testing for every channel, so you can easily add in-market experiments to your optimization strategy.
♦ Every Measured brand also gets their own fully customized marketing data warehouse (MDW) to organize marketing data from hundreds of sources in one place. This makes it easy for marketers to apply and report on incrementality insights and it is also the perfect setup for brands to incorporate media mix modeling (MMM) if they choose to do so.
♦ Complimentary to incrementality, MMM is another valuable methodology that does not require user-level data and can support high-level longer term strategy planning.
The following claims about the shortcomings of testing and using experiments for measurement are commonly made by providers that are still anchored on click-based MTA.
|Competitor Claims||The Facts|
|Hard to measure multiple channels at the same time||At Measured, we’ve automated experiment design and execution for the nuances of every channel. We normalize all your marketing data, using your own taxonomies and KPIs, for apples-to-apples comparisons across channels. Incrementality is actually the only way to accurately measure across channels because it calculates performance against a consistent metric – sales.|
|Running good tests takes a lot of resources to manage and coordinate. It’s difficult to hold other factors constant to obtain valid experiment results.||Running complex experiments at scale and producing valid results are extremely difficult. This is why our team at Measured spent years developing a proven methodology, using the most advanced data-science. Then, we automated and productized the whole process, end to end, to make something that is really hard, really easy for you to do.|
|Findings are continually out of date as test results only capture a specific point in time from when that test ran. This makes it not a day-to-day solution for gleaning insights on your marketing/advertising — more helpful for a monthly/quarterly frequency to re-establish baselines.||We reconcile your sales and conversion data with our incrementality data and in-market experiment results every single day. With Measured, you get ongoing accurate measurement on all channels and tactics, for continuous optimization.|
|Can’t be used to test influencers, affiliates, podcasts||These channels and more are included in the Measured approach.|
|Doesn’t leverage first-party data (surveys, promo codes)||Everything Measured does is anchored on first-party data because we measure against brand sales transactions. We also routinely split first-party CRM files into cohorts and test to identify the optimal media mix for every customer type.|
|Can’t analyze marketing at the user level or uncover path to conversion.||Let’s be honest, neither can anyone else. If you sign up with anyone using a methodology that relies on building user click-paths, you are signing up to be looking for another attribution tool when that method fails.|
To make up for the fact that conversion path-building is rapidly fading into obsolescence, many MTA providers are scrambling to offer a host of additional solutions. Then, they position the grab bag of methodologies as “holistic measurement.” Adopting a varied collection of measurement methodologies will not make your measurement more comprehensive. Making a direct comparison between any of the results or piecing together questionable click-based reports to reveal a complete picture will be extremely difficult.
There is no solution that exists, or will ever exist, that can deliver everything for everybody. There are problems we solve in a best-in-class way, and there are others we recommend solving with other approaches such as MMM. What’s most important is that brands understand what problem they want to solve and that they get a clear understanding of how each potential solution can help them solve that problem.
If you are a DTC brand looking to continuously optimize your ad spend for maximum business impact; If you want to base those decisions on results that will always reconcile with the numbers you see in your transaction data; If you want to stop wrangling data and piecing together a bunch of disparate reports; if you want do all of these things with a partner that will grow with you into the future, you should talk to Measured. I think we can help
Are you ready to learn more about the media optimization platform that was awarded Best Marketing Attribution Solution in 2022?
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