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The Science Behind Data-Driven Attribution, Google’s New Attribution Model

By   ,  Path Interactive  |    

When shopping online customers often touch multiple marketing channels before they convert. In marketing this is known as the consumer decision journey, a 4 step decision making funnel which looks like: Awareness  -> Consideration -> Intent -> Loyalty.

In digital marketing this journey is referred to as a multi-channel funnel. These funnels are generated from conversion paths, the sequences of interactions (i.e., clicks/referrals from channels) that led up to each conversion and transaction. Google AdWords and Google Analytics have always had position and rule-based attribution models available (last click, first click, time decay and linear) but recently introduced a new model that uses a sophisticated algorithm that assigns partial conversion credit to your marketing touchpoints.

What is Data-Driven Attribution?

In 2013 Google unveiled the Data-Driven attribution model for Google Analytics Premium, and in 2014 they released it in AdWords. Unlike standard position or rule-based attribution models Data-Driven Attribution uses actual data from your Analytics account to generate a custom model for assigning conversion credit to marketing touchpoints throughout the entire customer journey. Data-Driven Attribution uses all available path data—including data from both converting and non-converting users—to understand how the presence of particular marketing touchpoints impacts your users’ probability of conversion. The resulting probability models show how likely a user is to convert at any particular point in the path, given a particular sequence of events.

 

How Does Google Algorithmically Assign Conversion Credit?

Data-Driven Attribution uses an algorithm based on a concept from cooperative game theory called the Shapley Value. The Shapley Value was developed by the economics Nobel Laureate Lloyd S. Shapley as an approach to fairly distributing the output of a team among the constituent team members. In the case of Data-Driven Attribution, the “team” being analyzed has marketing touchpoints (e.g., Organic Search, Display, and Email) as “team members,” and the “output” of the team is conversions. The Data-Driven Attribution algorithm computes the counterfactual gains of each marketing touchpoint—that is, it compares the conversion probability of similar users who were exposed to these touchpoints, to the probability when one of the touchpoints does not occur in the path.

How Do Cooperative Game Theory and the Shapley Value Work?

The actual calculation of conversion credit for each touchpoint depends on comparing all of the different permutations of touchpoints and normalizing across them. This means that the Data-Driven Attribution algorithm takes into account the order in which each touchpoint occurs and assigns different credit for different path positions. For example, Display preceding Paid Search is modeled separately than Paid Search preceding Display.

Example

In the following high-level example, the combination of Organic Search, Display, and Email leads to a 3% probability of conversion. When Display is removed, the probability drops to 2%. The observed 50% increase when Display is present serves as the basis for attribution.

illustration of display increasing likelihood of purchase

What Data Is Used in Data-Driven Attribution?

In addition to data from organic search, direct, and referral traffic, Data-Driven Attribution analyzes data from all of the Google products that you’ve linked to Analytics, such as AdWords, the Google Display Network, and DoubleClick Campaign Manager. It also incorporates data that you import via the Cost Data Upload feature. Data-Driven Attribution leverages the conversion path data from Multi-Channel Funnels, as well as path data from users who don’t convert.

Can I Use Data-Driven Attribution?

Data-Driven attribution is only available in Google Analytics Premium and AdWords under certain conditions. In order for Data-Driven Attribution to generate a model for your selected conversion type, you must meet the minimum conversion threshold for the past 28 days. The current threshold is:

  • 400 conversions per conversion type with a path length of 2+ interactions (i.e., 400 conversions for a specific goal or transaction, not a sum of 400 over all conversion types)

AND

  • 10,000 paths in the selected reporting view (roughly equivalent to 10,000 users, although a single user may generate multiple paths)

What Should I Do If I Can’t Use Data-Driven Attribution?

There is no one size fits all solution to attribution modeling. Every business has different marketing needs and needs to figure how how to allocate their marketing dollars to drive the most performance. Instead of last click attribution, consider using time-decay or position based attribution models in Google Analytics. Additionally, GA offers a model comparison tool which lets you compare 3 models against each other and a custom model builder tool in the admin settings of each view.

Contact us today to get a free analytics consultation and we can work with you to figure our your conversion attribution strategy.

 

 

 

The New Mad Men: Looking Back at Advertising’s Evolution Towards Digital Marketing

By   ,  Path Interactive  |    

Everyone in the marketing world has heard of Mad Men. They were the cool guys in the 60’s who worked on Madison Avenue and developed the modern advertising techniques that we know of today. They paved the way and brought ad copy to new levels. We admire the ingenuity of their creative, and if the television show is any indication, we like the style in which they did it with. But times change and there’s a new type of Mad Man in town.

(more…)

Mike Coppola Teaching Search Marketing Course This Summer at NYU

By   ,  Path Interactive  |    

Michael Coppola, CEO of New York search and social agency Path Interactive will be teaching a courses on search marketing this Summer at NYU’s School of Professional Studies.

The course will be a 3 days long on Friday August 5th, Saturday August 6th, and Sunday August 7th . The hours on all days are from 9:00am-4:40pm.  The course will take place on the Woolworth Building NYU Campus. For more information or to o register for this course click here.

SEARCH MARKETING

Search marketing is one of the most important marketing skills you can acquire. Develop and implement effective search engine marketing and search engine optimization tactics (including organic/PPC search, paid/sponsored listings, and contextual listing). Learn to optimize site content, develop a strategy, and integrate search into your overall marketing plan.

ABOUT MICHAEL COPPOLA

mike_coppolaMichael Coppola is a founder and serves as CEO of Path Interactive. Michael brings more than 15 years of traditional & online marketing experience with unparalleled insight, innovation and marketing expertise to the industry. As CEO, he drives the vision of the company, provides account and technology leadership and co-manages the day-to-day operations of the business.

Before founding Path Interactive, Michael served in numerous marketing  management and corporate training roles for Fortune 500 companies including Verizon Communications and Viacom. Most recently as Director of National Marketing for Westwood One (a Viacom subsidiary), Michael created highly effective integrated marketing programs for leading national brands like BMW, McDonalds and Quest Communications.

ABOUT PATH INTERACTIVE

The same commitment to excel for our clients prompts us to take a leadership role in our industry. Members of the senior management team serve as instructors at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. There, CEO Michael Coppola and V.P. of Client Strategy Ruben Quinones teach courses on Search Marketing to the next generation of digital specialists as part of NYU’s New Media Marketing program. In addition, Path also develops specialized corporate training programs in SEO and Social Media marketing for its client-partners.

Ruben Quinones Teaching Search Marketing Courses At NYU This Summer

By   ,  Path Interactive  |    

Ruben Quinones of New York City Search and Social agency Path Interactive will be teaching Search Marketing at NYU’s School of Continuing Professional Studies for the 2016 Summer semester.

One course will be in-person and the other will be an online/asynchronous (self-paced). The in-person course will take place over three days, July 15-17th 2016. For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there will be a class held from 9:00am-4:40pm at the Woolworth Building NYU campus. The online course is self-paced and begins on August 1st 2016 and ends August 14th 2016. For more information or to sign up for either of these courses, click here.

Search marketing is one of the most important marketing skills you can acquire. Develop and implement effective search engine marketing and search engine optimization tactics (including organic/PPC search, paid/sponsored listings, and contextual listing). Learn to optimize site content, develop a strategy, and integrate search into your overall marketing plan.

ABOUT RUBEN QUINONES

ruben quinonesRuben Quinones is VP, Client Strategy at Path Interactive where he provides forward thinking leadership for the company’s social media marketing processes and is the lead for client Facebook marketing programs. Ruben leads the action and development of social media marketing and oversees strategic campaigns for major clients. Additional responsibilities include; strategic consulting, and key project management for Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization and Online marketing campaigns, client digital strategy and execution.

 

 

ABOUT PATH INTERACTIVE

The same commitment to excel for our clients prompts us to take a leadership role in our industry. Members of the senior management team serve as instructors at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. There, CEO Michael Coppola and V.P. of Client Strategy Ruben Quinones teach courses on Search Marketing to the next generation of digital specialists as part of NYU’s New Media Marketing program. In addition, Path also develops specialized corporate training programs in SEO and Social Media marketing for its client-partners.

Keep Your Enemies Close: What SEM Competitive Analysis Can Teach You About Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

By   ,  Path Interactive  |    

Competitor analysis is a wonderful, insightful and sometimes surprising means of learning more about your business. As a digital marketing agency, for us competitor analysis is not just a value add, it’s a core strategy. Here, I’m going to share how we get meaningful, actionable insights at Path and how you can integrate them into your own marketing.

Research your digital competitors – not just your business competitors

Brief refresh: in digital marketing there are several types of competitors we monitor. In addition to direct, indirect and replacement competitors, we look at business competitors and digital competitors.

You or your client often has an established idea of who your business competitors are. For brick-and-mortar, it is business competitors offering the same service/product nearby geographically.

Your digital competitors are likely completely different from your business competitors. Your digital competitors are likely not your business competitors, but they are bidding on the same keyword terms and inflating the marketing place. Sometimes it’s an unrelated advertiser who did a poor job using keyword targeting.

An example of a business competitor for a NYC cosmetic dentistry practice would be other practices located within 0.5 mile of your location.  Patient behavior indicates that when searching for a dentist, people are more likely to go to a nearby dentist during work hours within walking distance of the workplace rather than a dentist further away or closer to home. This behavior is dictated by practice hours being limited to the work week with limited availability on weekends.

So you’ve identified that these 5 dentists are immediate / direct business competitors, but that’s not even close to the big picture of who you’re competing against.

How do you find out who your digital competitors are?

  • Identify your top clicked or top converting keywords in your paid search campaign. Ideally, you would want to look at brand keywords (these include your business name in the keyword) and generic keywords (these are services, products that your business offers)
  • Start searching!

Take a look at competitor ads showing up for your brand name

  • Who and how many are there? What’s their messaging? Are they digital, business or other competitors?  Are they mentioning your brand name in their ad copy? (If they are, you can take steps to prevent competitors from using your trademark.) What’s their messaging?
  • Do this regularly, competitors may come and go – but it’s good to search monthly to see if the SERP changes.

Now, on to generic service or product queries:

Much of the same questions apply from brand searches; however, it is important to check if there’s any overlap with competitors showing up on branded keywords. What promotions/offers, if any, are used in ad copy? Are there any trends and commonalities with how competitors differentiate themselves on SERP?

Conversion rate optimization opportunities: make it easier for potential customers to buy/call/sign-up/register

You’ve done the work to identify who your digital competitors are, now it’s time to find out what happens after the click. (Click on the ad, I won’t tell.)

Insights from your competitors can help you improve your own conversion rates:

Where does the ad to go to?

Is it the homepage of the site or landing page? Is the content on the page relevant to the ad and the search query? Is the offer in the ad consistent with the messaging on the landing page? Is there a CTA? Is there enough information about the product and service for potential customer to convert?

What’s the conversion process like?

Lead Generation: Is there a form on the site? What information is required to submit a form? Are there any qualifying questions? Is the form too long, too short? Is the submit button clear? What is the primary lead type – to submit a form or call? Is there a soft capture element (newsletter signup)?
E-Commerce: You may want to purchase an inexpensive product to review the entire conversion process. How easy is it to add a product to the shopping cart? How many clicks does it take to check out?
Mobile: Access the sites / landing pages on your mobile device. Is the site optimized for mobile or is it the desktop version? Is there anything on the mobile site that creates additional friction – slow load speed, flash, difficult to navigate? If eCommerce, how many clicks does it take to complete a purchase? A great free tool to mimic a mobile environment across multiple mobile devices (including tablet) is www.mobiletest.me

What’s next?

Identify aspects that work and don’t work on your competitor’s site. Focus on features that streamline the conversion process or create a better user experience then take your findings and develop a testing strategy to put your findings to work. A conversion rate optimization program can be very effective at improving your site’s performance.

Identify gaps / failures in your competitors’ marketing. More importantly, identify opportunities to expand to new channels

In a recent case study, our agency worked with a renowned national legal firm on several large-scale class-action lawsuits bidding on the types of keywords that notoriously wind up on annual most expensive Google keywords lists.  We were tasked with reaching the affected groups to generate leads and eventually get signed retainers. Timing was of the essence since in many legal cases, the first legal firm with to file a case represents all constituents.

In a very short timeframe (2-3 weeks), the marketplace was saturated with numerous new competitors. Avg. CPCs on Google and Bing skyrocketed and it became cost prohibitive to maintain lead volume and efficiency but it was still necessary to maintain our presence on paid search.

After optimizing and conducting competitive research, we found that while paid search was saturated, Facebook was not! The bulk of competitor spend was on paid search, but only a handful were advertising on Facebook. This was a huge opportunity to expand to a new channel that didn’t face the same challenges as paid search and generate clicks at a cost of $1-$4 as opposed to well over $50.

How do you identify these opportunities?

Keep monitoring search for any major shifts in competition. Google’s Auction insights functionality is a great way of reviewing which of your competitors are increasing market share.
Monitor fluctuations in your paid media performance. An increase in avg CPC or reductions in avg. Pos are often good indicators of increasing competition in the marketplace.
Free online competitive research tools! There are a vast amount of free and incredibly useful tools online that will give you more information and estimates on what type of people are getting to your competitor’s sites, how they’re getting there and how much they’re spending online. Take spend estimates with a grain of salt – the only real way to know how much a competitor is spending is to get transparency into their media accounts – and that’s very unlikely).

We use a variety of proprietary tools and pro enterprise versions for research purposes. Our favorites are:

  • SimilarWeb: www.similarweb.com
  • Quantcast: www.quantcast.com
  • Compete: www.compete.com

What’s next?

One you’ve identified opportunities for new platforms or within your current campaigns, build out a strategy to expand or reach out to Path Interactive to setup a strategy and work with you to capitalize on this potential win.

Monitor your competitors – with only a few clicks.

Google Alerts: www.google.com/alerts.
How would you like a daily digest of in your inbox daily or weekly of any news related to your competitors? You can do this with Google Alerts – it takes a minute to setup and you’re on your way to staying up-to-date with what your competitors are doing.

Sign up for competitor online newsletters and mailing lists.
If your competitors offer an online newsletter or have a physical mailing list, sign up! You’ll get a more complete picture of how they communicate with potential customers, how promotions/offers differ from online and more insight into e-mail marketing and direct marketing strategies.

Interested in learning more about smart digital media management and competitive conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies? Contact us today for an evaluation of your current digital media strategies.