Cross-channel attribution: what each channel adds to the global picture


So, how many times in a week do you feel nostalgia for the good old days of marketing? You know, back when the channels were more defined and you had a well established process and (supposedly) solid analytics to tell you what worked and what didn't? Personally, I think just about every veteran marketer has a moment such as that at least once a week.

Again and again I hear and read about how marketing pros are struggling with the new reality of the cross-channel consumer. All the eggs are in so many different baskets now that it's hard enough at times to even know how many baskets you've invested eggs into let alone, which ones paid off a good ROI.

Before we get too desperate, every form of media has had to evolve its advertising model and the analytics which go with it. For example, radio shows were first aimed at providing content to sell the radios. But it soon became apparent that ads on radio were an effective marketing tool and the model shifted to become a channel to sell just about anything. For decades radio relied on a measurement system which was about the same as reading the entrails of sheep and we all hailed it as scientific. Bah! Or should I say "baaaa"?

TV started out with one sponsor for each show - basically an infomercial with vaudeville and then in the sixties shifted to a magazine format for ads. My point being that any media evolves over time and what is today may not be what will be tomorrow. The only thing I can absolutely assure anyone of is that things will change.

Reporting and retargeting

If last year was the year of social then this year will be the year of reporting. People are demanding solid analytics and companies are falling over their keyboards trying to provide just that kind of information. However, whether we will ever see the same kind of standardized reporting as we do with traditional media, is up in the air.

Jonathan Beeston, writing for, suggests trying such things as splitting your cookie pool, using one as a control group and retargeting the other to see if you get an up-bounce. It's an interesting technique and can give you an indication of how your display ads are working for conversions, but keep in mind a good number of people block or delete cookies. As one commenter rightly pointed out, cookies are not users.

Look, you can build your own solution or you can look for solution partners who can provide the infrastructure and reporting which you can integrate into your marketing plan. Let's stop thinking so much about what the ROI is right this second and start thinking about how much what we have to offer is worth.

If it's worth that much then isn't it worth making the investment to build a strategy (the right way) from the ground up? How long down the road do you want to look?  If we do that, then perhaps we can take that longer view and build online marketing strategies which cater to the cross-channel consumer on their terms --While delivering ROI on our terms.

Do you want to engage the multi-channel consumer?

Today's customer is cross-channel and he/she is at the centre of sales and marketing.

Communication channels depend on the consumer and marketing is about engaging the cross-channel customer and prospect throughout integrated dialogues that are driven by his/her buying journey, preferences, triggers, signals and behaviour.

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