Two intersecting themes for you today – attribution and decision making.

This paper from Google Analytics and eMarketer really got me started, and you can download it here. It’s a survey of marketers and agencies (n=179) gauging attitudes, expectations, and objectives in attribution. Which is so hot right now. Thank you, Google. Great stuff.

There’s a big difference between satisficing decision making behavior, and optimizing decision making behavior.

Satisficing decision making behavior is characterized by:

  • Good enough because it’s good enough.
  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • We only really have to do the minimum to satisfy our expectations.

Optimizing decision making behavior is characterized by:

  • Searching for better.
  • Thinking forward and thinking backwards.
  • Seeking to maximize an objective.

People chose which behavior to pursue: be it satisficing or optimizing. From that choice flows all sorts of effects.

  • It decides the types of resources they invest, and where. 
  • It manipulates their preferences. 
  • If affects the very risks they take.

The survey is useful – but which is it? Are marketers in a state of satisficing or in a state of optimizing?

  • 62% state that ‘justifying digital spending’ is high priority. 
  • That figure falls to 57% for those who “plan to use it to create the most effective marketing mix”. 
  • And to 47% for using it to plan campaigns.

I can’t tell if respondents are lying to themselves about what they would do, or if this signals a genuine aspiration, a genuine expectation, that optimization could happen if they only knew what didn’t know. (And it happened to agree with their channel-bias.)

There’s certainly a desire to prove they matter.

Would marketers accept the answer if the evidence was tremendously damaging to their interests? Would Old Gil over in Radio accept an 85% cut if a model said so? Doesn’t old Gil get a lick?

What do you think? Are marketers ready to make optimization decisions?


I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at