What We Believe In: 6 Ways to Rethink Attribution

Posted on May 16, 2019
By Team InMobi

Many organizations are not handling attribution well today. A 2018 study from ClickZ and Fospha found that only around 9 percent of marketers in the U.S. thought their companies had an “excellent” understanding of attribution. In fact, over 34 percent actively said their businesses had either a “below average” or “very poor” understanding of “data-driven attribution.”

Yikes! So how can marketers correct this? How should they be thinking about attribution today?

We recommend that all marketers prioritize these attribution actions and mindsets.

Multi-Touch and Cross-Device Attribution

The days of just looking at clicks and single actions in your advertising efforts are increasingly in the rearview window. Haven’t we moved beyond 1997’s terminology and measurement? The customer journey today is much more complicated than one activity leading to one action. More often than not, a series of efforts among many different people will lead to sales (and rebuys). In 2019, we want marketers embrace multi-touch attribution and to understand how efforts across devices (both offline and online) impact final buying behaviors.Also, consumers today don’t see ads, learn about products, interact with others or make purchase decisions in a vacuum. One single action rarely lead to one single result. So why, then, don’t brands account for these myriad actions? People today get information in real life and online, and use many different devices from television sets and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Even old school tactics like billboards, radio ads and free samples at the grocery store can influence someone’s final purchase. Thanks to a variety of data sources, from browser cookies to mobile device IDs and everything else in between, cross-device attribution is becoming a possibility. We hope it’s one that the entire advertising industry actually embraces this year.

Connected Device Experiences

Increasingly, the use of connected devices like smartphones and smart TVs is tied to apps. For example, approximately 90 percent of all time someone spends using a smartphone is devoted to apps, according to eMarketer. So why, then, have advertisers been so slow to accept this reality? Too often, we see creatives where the call to action leads someone off the app to a mobile web page. Advertisers take this approach because it makes tracking easier, but it provides for a terrible user experience; no wonder we see approximately 60 percent dropoff between someone clicking on an in-app ad and interacting with the mobile web page in a meaningful manner. In 2019, we hope these kinds of practices are finally moonlighted.

Unshackling from the Browser

The average mobile internet user in the U.S. spends over three hours a day on average using apps, but only around 30 minutes in browsers, according to eMarketer. If we all know that apps are ascendant, then why are browser-based viewpoints and measurements still so prevalent? Most stats related to engagement and clicks are all based on browsers, and fail to account for how people actually use and interact with apps. It’s high time we all move beyond these old attribution methods and models.

Death of Last-Click Attribution Only

So much goes into someone’s purchase decision beyond just the very last action they took, which is why we desperately need to move beyond putting so much weight on just the very last click. Marketers need to take a wider view in 2019. Not only is last-click attribution a dated idea - people don’t really “click” on a smartphone anyway - but it’s also a major contributing factor to the presently high rates of mobile ad fraud; since advertisers are paying so much based on the final action, it’s an easy and tempting target for fraudsters.

Full Funnel

All media needs to look at advertising's impact from exposure to engagement. Brands need to see the full funnel to have a real idea of how things are performing, in order to drive real business results. Awareness, engagement or purchase are all critical, but not when viewed in isolation. Many retailers have already embraced this full-funnel vision with path to purchase methodologies, and we sincerely hope all industries take a similar approach in the new year, through solutions for app-to-app direct response, brand awareness, prospecting and sales all with third-party verification.

Complete Transparency from Exposure to Engagement to Conversion

In 2019, we are firmly committed to providing full transparency for all of our partners from beginning to end. We are and will continue to look at engagement, not just exposure, as we aim to drive more appropriate in-app and in-ad engagement. Focusing almost exclusively on running high impact mobile in-app ad experiences in the new year will help us in this regard. Transparency is also really key for fighting fraud and really understanding users over the big picture.


Is your organization prioritizing these attribution-related steps and actions right now? Why or why not? Let us know on social media! We’d love to hear your thoughts on mobile marketing attribution on Twitter and LinkedIn.