Marketing & Advertising

Cross-Device Attribution, Location & The Customer Journey

Marketing attribution has always been a tough area for marketers and advertisers. Attribution modelling has undoubtedly provided huge value. However, the ability to measure the effect of channels (or touchpoints) on the customer journey has often been fraught with difficulties.

Return on investment has been difficult for a variety of reasons. Understanding the entire customer journey has been problematic. This is especially true in the physical, offline world. Some offline marketing channels have also not been trackable. Attribution solutions have struggled with the multi-channel and real-time aspects that are crucial to understanding the full marketing picture.

Location intelligence has grown in terms of accuracy and scalability. This presents an opportunity. Some of the problems with attribution modelling can be solved with the application of accurate location data. Could this be the solution to the problems that limited marketing attribution in the past?


What is marketing attribution?

To understand the problems and the effect that location data can have it’s important to understand marketing attribution.

Attribution is the practice of allocating purchase revenue to the marketing touch points of a customer. In other worlds – understanding the effect of marketing efforts and channels on the purchase decision of customers.

Touchpoints can cover a wide range of customer interactions. Understanding the effect of these on sales or other valuable metrics allows for the optimisation of marketing channels, activity and budget.


What is offline location-based attribution?

Location-based attribution is the use of accurate mobile device data to fill in the gaps in traditional attribution models.

Smartphone adoption has grown rapidly. Understanding the where and how people move becomes scalable and precise. Customers rarely move without their mobile device, and this is the key. Higher levels of attribution precision are possible. Connecting the online and offline worlds becomes easier. Customer journey mapping and various touch point measurement is improved.

Until recently it has been impossible to understand the offline world. This has meant that advertisers have often been unable to attribute sales in physical stores and locations to a specific channel.

As smartphone adoption has grown using a device location has proved extremely useful in connecting the two.

Mapping the customer journey – cross device attribution

Basic attribution models have chosen to measure first touch or last touch. Much has been written about the failings of each. The choice lies in ignoring either early, top of funnel activity. Or failing to consider later, bottom of funnel activity that helps to move the customer along the buyer journey.

So the natural next step is to focus on multi-touch attribution. Focusing on touchpoints throughout the customer journey is important. But it requires accurate measurement across channels to be effective. The problem is that multi-touch attribution models don’t always incorporate what is happening in the offline world.

Location data allows a complete understanding of the customer journey. This means that it becomes possible for businesses to say the sort of thing like – okay this person saw our Facebook ad and has now completed a purchase. Previous attribution models would then attribute this purchase to the Facebook ad and not demonstrate how to generate leads on Facebook. But a more holistic view of the individual customer might point out that actually, the customer had visited the physical store previously.

This ability to model attribution across the online and the offline leads to a clearer picture of attribution. It allows brands to be better informed about the effect digital has on physical and vice-versa. Your customers exist across multiple marketing channels, so your attribution should too.

Previously brands have tried to close this gap by using various methods to map the offline customer journey. This usually took the form of a promotional code, which allows the brand to understand which channel had the desired effect. But whilst the picture is slightly clearer, it is not enough to be able to inform marketing budgets. Or to provide a clear understanding of the customer journey and the customer experience.

Only location intelligence can provide these insights. And it can do this across the online and offline world with a sufficient level of detail. Location data is versatile, quick and accurate. This makes it the perfect tool to help close the offline to online attribution loop.

Location data connect online advertising to the offline world. This allows for attribution in physical locations. This allows brands to measure store visits and link this offline activity to other digital touch points. It allows for more accurate customer journey mapping. This data can even be used to understand external offline touch points, such as OOH advertising. Already a complete picture becomes available.

Attribution has always had its problems. But brands and marketers should understand and implement insights from customer data points. In this way, location data provides a better understanding of the offline world. It allows brands to measure touch points more accurately. It allows them to map the customer journey in greater detail. And most of all, it allows them to measure the effects of cross-channel marketing in detail.

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Discover location based marketing

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By James Ewen

James is the head of marketing at Tamoco

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