Thoughts on 'data-driven attribution'
Over the last few weeks, I've seen a flurry of discussion around attribution theory, and how this plays into changes happening in the digital ecosystem. I find this whole topic fascinating, so that's where we're going to start today!
Most of these changes are 100% about finding a way to still get some data as tighter privacy polices descend — the companies doing the pitching might frame it as better for user privacy (and in many cases, it genuinely is), but few of them would be investing in this if the status quo weren't getting steadily eroded. Under the hood, these are tectonic shifts designed to reset marketers' expectations that 'campaign data' connects directly to anything observable from outside the black box.
The truth is that last-touch attribution (still the de facto standard on mobile) has always been the-least-bad-option-that-sort-of-works. Multi-touch was a promised land that never really arrived for most, and with universal identifiers like the IDFA now an endangered species, true MTA (especially across channels) is impossible: it's an unrealized dream left over from the old world of 'more tracking is the answer'.
It's clear that modeling and incrementality-based measurement will be key parts of the future of digital marketing (along with more robust on-device techniques), but there is still an inherent conflict between privacy and transparency.
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