Adotas: Agencies + Attribution = Client Retention

Regardless of what happens with the stock market this week or next week, and regardless of what happens with macroeconomic issues, no one understands the realities of consumer and brand issues in this economic era better than digital ad agencies.

You know the 2009 recession has not yet produced a sustainable economic recovery. You know that consumer spending has only recovered in some categories, and you intimately understand the pressure to spend digital dollars efficiently and measure results rigorously.

With that in mind, the most efficient and demonstrable way digital marketing can be held accountable is through attribution modeling. As Amy Manus recently wrote in ClickZ Academy: “For the past 10 years, looking at the ‘last click’ model may have worked; today, it paints an inaccurate picture given the decrease in clicks, the increase in retargeting and paid search efforts, the impact of social media, and the need to look at a more integrated marketing picture.”

Amen. If you’re a digital agency, one of the most powerful ways to accomplish client retention is through attribution modeling. No equation is more balanced right now than Agencies + Attribution = Retention.

Here’s why:

1. It quantifies marketing spend.
Merely having your agency demonstrate how the industry has been lulled into accepting “last click” and “last view” success tracking (in comparison to attribution modeling) gives your agency an edge when it comes to the inevitable end-of-year meeting when the client wants to know “what have you done for us lately, and what are you going to do for us now?” For some agencies, that’s a quarterly meeting.

Mark Hughes2. It quantifies value.
There’s an old saying in corporate America: “Everybody’s happy when the numbers are good.” We’re likely entering a business cycle where sales numbers won’t be so good, and media performance will be under pressure.

Here’s the “aha” moment: Imagine a world where a client can understand media sources that generate incremental revenue versus suspecting the same “last click” reports the client is starting to view as superficial. Attribution modeling raises success metrics up a level from clicks, views, etc to attributable performance. Imagine a world where you discover media that generates incremental revenue which were once-ignored (and never even known).

By identifying originators (and assists) of conversions versus last position, you begin to reallocate media dollars, and guess what happens. Revenue for your client increases on the same spend. The numbers go up. Client gets happy, allocates more spend, and clients with numbers going up are sticky clients.

3. It adds knowledge, and knowledge is still king.
Every manager, director, VP, and SVP is busy in corporate America. The amount of meetings they don’t want to be in has escalated for a variety of reasons. In the past, they had analysts to crunch numbers. But today even VPs are expected to do it all: be strategic, be great leaders of people, manage politics and be very numbers driven. The problem is there’s less time in the day to do it all.

Now is the time for agencies to shift. Instead of being information purveyors (it wasn’t too long ago where we didn’t have a wealth of data), agencies now have to shift to knowledge purveyors. Knowledge purveyors save clients money. Information purveyors deliver reports. Knowledge purveyors, at the end of the quarter and the year, quantify for the client how much money they saved. Information purveyors count clicks.

They day you gain a client does not have to be the day you begin losing that client. Agencies attributing their success have sticky clients; agencies that don’t end up defending.

Originally Appeared in Adotas