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.