How to think about the attribution problem
Joe Stanhope wrote a good piece for Forrester. If you have a subscription to Forrester, read it. It summarizes the state we’re in, and has a few very good points on the last page.
In that piece, web analysts themselves list ‘attribution’ as a major challenge.
This is a wicked problem. All the energy you put into untying that knot only causes it to become tighter. But let’s try this again, together.
If you haven’t seen this previous post, it’s new to you. I drew out a conceptual model report, in part to demonstrate how cause-effect can be embedded into a report.
Alright – so that’s a conceptual model. I believe that paid spend causes paid visits. I believe that affinity score is a predictor of returning and lost customers. And I believe that non-working dollars should be part of your profit figure. I also don’t believe in returns.
A lot of the math here is pretty tame. It should be pretty obvious. And it served its purpose.
So, if you’re staring at that diagram and you want to think about which levers you could pull to make that profit number increase, what would you do?
What’s the relative strength of each lever?
I don’t think of this problem as one of ‘giving credit’. I have no dog in this fight – with the paid media person fighting for budget against an insurgent customer affinity group. I’m as objective and pragmatic as possible in setting up the model.
There are methods to execute attribution modeling – all technical. But crafting the solution means having a clear model that links cause and effect. I’d argue that we should be thinking in terms of a system – and that it’s not couched in language around ‘credit’, but rather, how to make the entire system more effective.