02_Elements/Icons/ArrowLeft Back to Insight
Insights > Digital & technology

Eight Best Practices for Implementing Multi-Touch Attribution

4 minute read | May 2019

Savvy marketers realize the benefits of omnichannel marketing. They use sophisticated tactics to engage their best customers and prospects wherever they are—online, on their phones, watching video or TV, or out of home.

With digital, marketers have gained the ability to target consumers with relevant content at just the right time and place. So how do we track, measure and optimize this activity? Until recently, most marketers used last-touch attribution, which assigns full credit for a conversion to the final touchpoint in the customer journey. But that was then.

At Nielsen, some of the largest brands in the world have chosen our multi-touch attribution solution. Multi-touch attribution offers a holistic view into marketing performance and the channels and tactics that are most effective. Our expertise gives us insight into both the benefits and the challenges of executing a successful attribution strategy.

New Tactics Call for New Measurement

Brands with more complex customer journeys have found last-touch models lacking, and have started to shift toward more holistic, cross-channel models, such as multi-touch attribution.

That’s because businesses want to leverage addressable media. Addressable media are online channels that collect user-level data that allows marketers to track individual touchpoints and market to individuals along the consumer journey. Addressable media include online ads, video, social media, digital TV and email.

Multi-touch attribution paints a more complete picture of the impact of each addressable marketing touchpoint on a conversion or brand engagement activity and enables far more granular marketing planning and optimization.

But the sheer volume of data generated by cross-channel marketing, combined with the variety of desired business outcomes, can make it difficult to know where to begin.

Here are some of the key findings from our experience with premier companies, including eight best practices for overcoming attribution implementation and adoption challenges.

1. Choose a Project Manager

Multi-touch attribution reveals how channels and tactics influence each other, which is one of its key strengths. With so many teams set to benefit, it’s essential to establish a single contact within the company who is responsible for driving implementation.

Takeaway: Assign a project leader who can help to ensure that attribution initiatives are prioritized and that the platform is evangelized and embraced.

2. Educate Stakeholders

An early step to a successful implementation is ensuring that all internal stakeholders and external vendors understand what multi-touch attribution is, how it works, why it is being implemented, and what they can expect.

Takeaway: Dedicate time to educate internal and external stakeholders prior to implementation.

3. Define Common Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Multi-touch attribution breaks down silos, revealing how channels and tactics work in combination to drive business outcomes. To enable this, the entire marketing team must agree on a shared set of KPIs that are mapped to the brand’s business goals.

Takeaway: Establish KPIs that are common across all channels.

4. Create a Data Plan

With a multi-touch attribution solution, for the first time, your data will be gathered, stored and consolidated in a single platform. Create a blueprint that lists the types of data, sources, update frequency, method of collection, format, and resources required to keep the data flowing.

Takeaway: Get a big picture of your data before you start to avoid bottlenecks and keep your implementation on track.

5. Build a Taxonomy

A taxonomy is a set of naming conventions that provides the framework for the data in your attribution platform and enables you to analyze the performance of the media dimensions that matter most to your business.

Takeaway: Define a taxonomy that aligns with your organization’s unique structure and vocabulary.

6. Set Expectations

Since the insights from multi-touch attribution are very different from traditional performance data, it is important to manage expectations. This includes explaining how attributed results should be interpreted. Ensuring your team approaches attribution with a willingness to view marketing performance through a new lens is paramount to success.

Takeaway: Teach channel teams to interpret insights accurately and show them how they can use these to optimize performance and spend.

7. Start with a Single Channel or Campaign

Many companies make the mistake of taking an “all or nothing” approach to multi-touch attribution. Instead, focus on a single channel or campaign to get an initial set of results and allows you to test your systems and make any adjustments needed.

Takeaway: Focus on a single channel or campaign to test and prove the technology’s performance and build momentum for expansion.

8. Prepare to Optimize

Learning which channels and tactics drive performance, by audience, at a granular level not only helps with planning and forecasting, but also enables in-flight optimizations throughout the duration of a campaign.

Takeaway: Be ready to act on attribution findings for both near real-time campaign adjustments and longer-term scenario planning.

Ranking Attribution for a New Era

Implementing a fully scalable cross-channel attribution strategy can seem complex for any business, large or small. However, with proper planning and cross-team collaboration, multi-touch attribution can have a tremendous impact on performance.

Download our ebook: Untangling Attribution’s Web of Confusion to learn more.

Continue browsing similar insights

Our products can help you and your business

  • Consumer & Media View

    Access syndicated and custom consumer research that will help you shape successful brand, advertising and marketing…

  • NCSolutions

    Maximize CPG advertising effectiveness with data to better segment, optimize and enable sales-based outcomes.