It’s the end of the attribution world as we know it (and we feel fine)

Author: Steffen Meyer, Mobile Marketing Content Specialist

Customlytics’ Marketing Tech Lead Adam Griffiths is very clear when it comes to the current development in performance marketing: “Attribution as we currently see it is dying.”

According to him, the next two years will be very interesting for marketers, since they have to adapt more and more to privacy initiatives by companies as well as privacy laws.

The most famous shift in this regard was Apple’s introduction of ATT, giving users the chance to prevent IDFA tracking and basically forcing marketers to use the company’s proprietary but less data-revealing SKAdNetwork (if all these terms make you feel dizzy, read this blogpost to understand the basic principles). 

Now Google jumps on the bandwagon with its “Privacy Sandbox” initiative which will “limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID“, as it is written in Google’s official announcement.

Predictive marketing makes sense of anonymized data

“We are getting a lot of anonymized data now”, says Adam. “You no longer have individual key insights on users, so we have to adapt.“ 

One way for him is utilizing predictive marketing: This means, an artificial intelligence scans through masses of data looking for behavior patterns and predicting future actions based on these patterns. Bluntly put: When someone books a trip to the beach, maybe he wants to order sunscreen as well?

While naturally being a tech guy Adam focuses on the tech side, there are other opinions out there on how to deal with the new attribution world.

Long-term brand building, trust and creative work-arounds

Some voices in the industry actually sound relieved that marketers have to shift their focus away from data towards the basics of marketing, which is: to tell stories and to build a long-term brand.

While brand building certainly stays an important topic, some argue that trust-building should play a central role, too. According to this view, the marketing industry has to be more transparent in how it uses the data, reducing customers’ skepticism. Question is, though, what this means in practical terms.

In a recent podcast interview, Customlytics’ CEO Christan Eckhardt shares his view on the future of marketing and predicts “a second spring” for older channels like television or even print. 

He reasons that many companies had invested in performance marketing because of measurability. But since measurability is more or less gone and no channel has proper tracking anymore, budgets will shift towards classic methods.

Furthermore, he sees marketers inventing work-arounds due to the new privacy rules. “There’s a lot of creativity happening now”, he says and lists a few examples of how some firms still get user data while adhering to new regulations:

  • Vouchers: Some companies give away masses of vouchers and get the data they need via the voucher code. Of course, they adjusted their financial model to this approach before.
  • Exit Polls: Instead of silently tracking users, some firms just ask them “How did you hear from us?“ – and people are actually very willing to give insights.

So yes, the attribution world as we know it, comes to an end, but as R.E.M. sang in their classic song, we should feel fine about it. Or as our Marketing Tech Lead Adam Griffiths puts it: “Just because they moved the goalposts, we are still on the same playing field – and we will score anyway.”

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