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What’s the Difference between Attribution vs Incrementality?

As marketers, we use the word attribution in many ways. Attribution quite simply is applying appropriate, or earned credit to the marketing touch-point that led a conversion. Typically, attribution is attempted through one, or more methods, such as first-touch, last-touch, MTA and so on.

Incrementality measurement solves for the attribution problem statement, however the methodology goes about the task in a very different way from MTA. To measure incrementality, audiences are randomly segmented into test and control cohorts. The difference in conversion rates between the two cohorts effectively gives us incrementality and an accurate read on the marginal incremental contribution of that media channel.

Incrementality in marketing is especially needed for channels where ad impressions are difficult to map and measure such as walled garden social channels including Facebook, Snap and Pinterest, or even TV and direct mail. For most channels or platforms, MTA cannot measure views or impressions, so you’re essentially just measuring clicks. Incrementality measurement accounts for the impressions and clicks within each of the platforms under test and therefore gives marketers a more accurate view of the true contribution of their media across their entire portfolio.

Author

Trevor Testwuide - CEO

Expert in business strategy and marketing measurement.

 

Multi-touch attribution is more challenging today due to limited tracking options, identity and cross-device resolution hurdles, data leakage and the massive amount of time it takes to implement.

 

What is cross-platform attribution (or cross-channel attribution) and why is it difficult?

The goal of cross-platform attribution in marketing is to gain clarity on the interplay and contribution of influence that each channel/tactic/campaign has on driving conversions over and above baseline sales.

It’s a task that has proved to be very difficult for many reasons including but not limited to:

  • Walled gardens are typically inaccessible to third-party tracking of impressions
  • Identity resolution across media platforms is quite low
  • Cross-device tracking is difficult and match rates are extremely low
  • Instrumenting a tracking infrastructure by a third party measurement provider has proved to be fraught with breakage and data leakage
  • It is extremely time consuming to implement without the help of a partner

Video: Landing a source of truth cross-channel media reporting dashboard

 

 

What are some cross-channel attribution tools?

MTA – collects individual, or user-level data, for trackable addressable media and conversion events in order to determine the impact of each media event to the desired conversion at the customer level. By summing the impact of each addressable media touchpoint on each customers’ likelihood to convert, MTA quantifies the total media channel lift provided by addressable media. MTA does not account for the impact of non-addressable media, and furthermore much addressable media is either non-trackable or lost due to the innumerable challenges of tracking data at the user level.

Incrementality Measurement – Incrementality in marketing refers to the incremental benefit produced per unit of input stimulation. Incrementality is the lift in desired outcome (awareness, web visits, conversion, subscriptions, revenue, profitability) provided by marketing activity.

Incrementality in marketing is especially needed for channels where ad impressions such as display, Facebook, social, or even TV are hard to measure. To measure incrementality, the audience is broken out into test groups (exposed to the ads) and a control group (suppressed from seeing the ads).

MMM – MMM is a top down (aggregate marketing data) and very artistic statistical exercise where one or more models (e.g. econometric, multi-linear regression) are leveraged to extract key information and insights by deriving information from multiple sources of marketing, economic, weather and financial data. MMM is also a high-touch consultative approach that is very manual with little to no automated data inputs, whereas MTA and Incrementality, when deployed properly, is a very automated approach leveraging preconfigured connectors that extract the required marketing data, across many channels, on regular cadence. (It’s important to note that MTA can take 6 months or more to deploy, whereas Incrementality can be up and running with reporting in 4-6 weeks.) See this article for more on why always-on automated experimentation is the future of marketing measurement.

Author

Trevor Testwuide - CEO

Expert in business strategy and marketing measurement.

 

Multi-touch attribution is more challenging today due to limited tracking options, identity and cross-device resolution hurdles, data leakage and the massive amount of time it takes to implement.