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Will existing attribution models work for native advertising? (Guest Article on iMediaConnections)

May 05, 2015 / by Vitaly Pecherskiy

attribution_in_native_advertising

Blog post originally appeared on iMediaConnections. Read the original story here.

The majority of B2B and B2C brands now invest in content marketing, yet 55 percent of B2B companies believe content marketing campaigns are ineffective. Could this be because we measure the effectiveness of content (and native advertising channels that distribute it) the same way we do banner advertising?

Let's start by taking a closer look at how users have been engaging with brands through banner advertising and their typical consumer journey to a purchase:

  1. The user sees an ad and clicks on it to go to the brand's website.
  2. The user adds a product to the cart, but doesn't complete the purchase.
  3. A retargeting company that works with a brand displays ads to the user to get him or her to come back to the site and finish the purchase.
  4. Some days later, the user decides to return to the site and uses Google to find the home page.
  5. The user completes the purchase.
  6. A retargeting company gets a conversion based on the "last ad seen" post-view attribution model.

Now, let's look at how native advertising and branded content fits in the consumer journey:

  1. The user reads a piece of content distributed through a native advertising channel and visits the brand's website.
  2. The user adds a product to the cart, but doesn't complete the purchase.
  3. A retargeting company that works with a brand displays ads to the user to get him or her to come back to the site and finish the purchase.
  4. Some days later, the user is engaged by branded content and decides to return to the site, using Google to find the home page.
  5. The user completes the purchase.
  6. A retargeting company gets a conversion based on the "last ad seen" post-view attribution model.

As you can see, the end result for both journeys is the same. A brand invested in producing and distributing branded content, but in the end it's as if it had no impact on the conversion whatsoever. It becomes even more absurd if you take into consideration that 54 percent of all display ads are not seen. That means a retargeting company needs to simply "load" the ad, even if it's below the fold, to get the conversion based on the most common attribution model -- "last ad seen." Because of the massive scale that a retargeting company can tap into with banner ads, it's able to almost always be the last company to load the ad, before users go back to the site.

Stats vary across different brands, but post-view conversions often take up more than 90 percent of all conversions, which means content gets no credit for its impact on any user's consumer journey to purchase. An IPG Media Lab study commissioned by Forbes indicated that consumers were 41 percent more likely to express intent to buy the brand versus those who saw a regular web page with no branded content. The problem arises when it comes to actually attributing a purchase back to the original content. What existing attribution models are missing in a context of branded content and native advertising is the measurement of effectiveness of content -- users' engagement with it. Time of site, page views, social sharing -- these are all ways to measure users' engagement post-click.

There is no commonly agreed-upon way to tie in the branded content engagement to the most widespread attribution model -- post-view. While likely there will never be a "one size fits all" approach to linking the impact of content to conversions, brands need to start taking steps to better understand this channel's role in driving online sales. This could mean tagging all campaigns with ad serving tags in order to see where branded content affected the sale.

Attribution models are not perfect, and they are exponentially weaker in the context of native advertising. As more and more brands start investing in native advertising, it is important to understand how the existing models of attributing conversions work in the context of content-driven and native advertising.

Vitaly Pecherskiy is co-founder and COO at StackAdapt Inc

Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

 

Topics: Blog Posts, Featured

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