Five Trends to Watch in 2012: Part 3

Bryce MarshallIn the previous installment of this series I discussed the imperative for digital marketers to better understand multi-screen profiles, and engage with these profiles in more meaningful ways.
In today’s post, I want to present the third trend:
#3 – Multi-/cross-channel attribution The digital consumer is leveraging more connected devices to engage with brands. From wired TVs to smartphones and every-sized screen in between. Digital marketing technology and harnessing cross-channel activity data means marketers may better communicate with consumers and customers across channels; maintaining a holistic tactical approach with unified messaging across channels instead of fragmented, channel-isolated shouting. But as the number of connected devices grows, the diversity and disparity of digital touch points snowballs in exponentially. In 2012 marketers will juggle distinct media strategies for desktop and mobile online advertising. Web platforms will be tailored for desktop, tablet and smartphone user needs, and distinct apps maintained for tablets and smartphones across operating systems. Add the increasingly dialog-based engagement facilitated by social media and the web 2.0/3.0 universe, where ‘sharing’ and ‘liking’ are events marketers want to measure.

Within this staggeringly complex ecosystem intelligent marketers will realize that a system of single-channel, last-click attribution has outlived its usefulness, if the goal is to create meaningful digital marketing strategies rather than incrementally optimize a series of tactical deployments. And while attribution models that can make sense of the interplay between 2 or 3 channels clearly represent progress (and a hell of a worthwhile starting point), this is just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Understanding how the diverse media and direct digital marketing tactics contribute to revenue, contribute to important milestones like awareness and consideration is critical.
  • Understanding the most common and effective recipes for online impressions across channels to produce happy buyers, larger receipts, and better brand advocates.
  • Understanding whether a brand impression on a smartphone influences a purchase decision made on a desktop computer, or, if the respective purchase funnels on desktop computers and smartphones are more isolated from each other. All of this and more is at stake.

Better investment in, and more attention paid to, intelligent attribution models will be an important aspect of effective marketing strategy development this year. This is nothing new for the small group of sophisticated online marketers at the leading edge of the curve. But the trend to watch in 2012 is seeing the torch being picked up by the brands at the middle of the curve and laying the groundwork for better measurement and insights. 2012 will be a year of attribution.


  1. Tim Roman
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Great post, I agree that as the marketing world becomes more complex, tracking must evolve.

    Do you recommend that a conversion is attributed to an entire conversion path rather than the last-click source? Is it possible to effectively do this for smaller volume campaigns?

  2. Bryce Marshall
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Tim. Getting a handle on the entire conversion path is a starting point. At least, a better understanding of the touchpoints and sequence within the buying cycle across channels. For the most common conversion paths what are the key drivers? What is the timeline? Sure, if you try to examine this across channels with a small audience getting clear insights may be difficult. Perhaps focus on the interplay of a couple of the more significant channels first, like search, display or email.

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  1. […] I’m watching in 2012. So far they are: #4 — Consumer data, privacy and preferences #3 – Multi-/cross-channel attribution #2 – Understanding multi-screen profiles #1 – Mobile and social own the […]

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