What is Triangulation in Marketing?

Terence Einhorn, Sr. Solutions Consultant in Sales

Published 06/04/2024

“Triangulation” in marketing measurement refers to the systematic process of blending multiple methods of measurement into one integrated system.

Below, we will cover why the current marketing landscape requires a triangulated measurement approach, the advantages of deploying such an approach, and how to leverage a triangulation system to drive tactical and strategic decision-making for your marketing organization.

What is the Essence of Triangulation? Getting Closer to Marketing Truths

Most marketers have had at least some experience with basic measurement techniques, such as site analytics (GA, Adobe, etc.), Media Mix Modeling, MTA, or even more advanced approaches. 

Unfortunately, these experiences typically yield the same issue: a singular approach is useful for answering some key questions but not comprehensive enough to serve as the sole source of truth for measurement across the entire portfolio.

The truth is that each measurement approach is only good at answering a limited scope of questions, and no singular approach can cover all the bases of a holistic measurement practice.

This is why the concept of “Triangulation,” or the systematic blending of multiple measurement techniques, is becoming the industry standard for measurement. 

What is the Value of Triangulation?

The main benefits of a triangulation approach for measurement can be summarized by the key points below:

For one, a triangulated approach can establish a true apples-to-apples comparison of performance across channels. This is important because different techniques in isolation tend to favor one type of channel over another. Equalizing performance across channels is critical to enabling budget allocation optimizations to maximize return on investment.

Secondly, triangulation helps balance long-term and short-term objectives. This is important because some measurement techniques are very short-term biased, while others are better at measuring the cumulative long-term impact of marketing.

The above benefits drive the ability to strategically and tactically allocate your media budget in real time, maximizing your return on investment, driving growth, and unlocking headroom for further budget.

Click here for a full breakdown of how to use media measurement to optimize your media’s performance.

Curious about triangulation?

Measured provides real-time, dynamic, and continuous causal measurement using a triangulated methodology.

Triangulation: What are the Core Components?

Let's go over the main methods of measurement individually and then talk about how to bring them together using triangulation.

Media Mix Modeling (MMM)

Media Mix Modeling, or MMM, is a method of observing how week-to-week (or day-to-day) variation in media exposure is associated with variation in sales to estimate media’s impact on sales. The association (or correlation) of different media drivers to sales is used to calculate the relative impact of each.

MMM is a valuable method in that it can measure most all marketing channels as long as you have a reasonable history of aggregated spend/impression data over time. MMM also excels at measuring the elongated impact of media over time, especially for upper funnel channels.

However, MMM, at its core, is a correlative exercise, and cannot tell you exactly how a given channel is driving incremental sales to the business. Hence, MMM needs to be supplemented with another approach:

Incrementality Experimentation

Incrementality experimentation is the use of systematic in-market test vs. control groups to measure media’s impact on sales.

Incrementality delivers the true causal impact of media to sales, making it the most critical input in triangulation. 

However, like MMM, incrementality experimentation only works to a certain degree of granularity. This means in order to unlock tactical and detailed decision making, a third method that leverages a ground-level source of data is needed:

Attribution

In general, attribution refers to the process of digitally linking a customer transaction (usually on a website) back to an advertisement that the specific customer saw beforehand. 

There are several categories or approaches for attribution, namely Multi-Touch Attribution, Site Analytics (GA, Adobe etc.), and Platform Attribution (the native pixel-based attribution on platforms like Meta and Google).

We won’t go into the specific differences between each here but will highlight that MTA and Site Analytics are generally considered incomplete Attribution sources in that they are unable to track the majority of customer conversions, namely those that happen after a customer Views an ad, (as opposed to clicking on it), and conversions that happen outside of a very short time window post ad exposure.

Platform Attribution, on the other hand, does a much better job of tracking view-based conversions as well as longer time-frames for conversion. 

That said, each platform can only see conversions tracked back to its own advertising and can’t see which other advertisements may have also influenced that customer's purchase decision. As such, Platform Attribution alone is missing a key component in measurement: incrementality. 

This is the core objective of triangulation: leveraging incrementality testing and MMM to calibrate native platform reporting based on the causal, incremental relationship between media and sales.

Measured’s Triangulation Methodology 

Measured has developed the industry's most robust, accurate, and efficient method for incrementality experimentation. 

It begins with a holistic MMM that provides a top-down view of the entire marketing portfolio and establishes a baseline for marketing performance, taking into account all various marketing vehicles.

Incrementality experiment results feed this MMM framework as “priors”, which anchor performance for marketing vehicles for which we have reliable Incrementality measurement based on ground truth.

The combined system of MMM + incrementality is used to calculate calibration factors (multipliers we can use to “right size” vendor reporting to their true performance) at a specific degree of granularity, which can then flow down to the campaign level to actively adjust platform attribution based on true incrementality.

With these three approaches combined, Measured provides real-time, dynamic, and continuous causal measurement for hundreds of brands across their entire portfolios, driving growth and efficiency across a wide range of industries and markets.

Want to see it in action? Sign up for a demo today.