Is Marketing Attribution’s (MTA) Father Bill Gates?

When MSN was in the media business, Bill Gates hosted its annual Brand Summit, where the likes of Dave Matthews and Chris Cornell performed for an intimate audience of the top 50 advertisers.

In that exclusive audience was Ted Moon, who was spending over $100 million/year in digital for Sprint-Nextel, making him one of the top five digital advertisers in the world.

In 2007, Bill Gates keynoted that Brand Summit and spoke about the foolishness of the measurement systems which gave credit to only one media touchpoint, when advertisers were spending millions of dollars on hundreds of keywords, and thousands of publisher display sites.

“He railed about its lack of logic,” said Ted Moon, now CEO of Pathfinder Interactive. “In fact, Gates bashed and dismantled last click measurement like the Golden State Warriors dismantled every team in the NBA playoffs. It was the first time I’d ever heard of attribution, and soon after, it shaped every media buy I made.”

So was Bill Gates the father of marketing attribution?

That same year, Microsoft acquired aQuantive which included Avenue A/Razorfish.

Brian McAndrews and Jeff Lanctot had been ramping up their dialog of conversion attribution which had been developed and used initially there and via acquisition, by Gates and Microsoft.

Brian McAndrews Jeff Lanctot

When Microsoft started exiting the media business in favor of search alone (Bing), the need to ‘parent’ and raise attribution…fell by the wayside.

“There’s a saying that Barbie has a thousand fathers” said C3 Metrics advertising attribution measurement Co-Founder & Chairman Mark Hughes. “but aQuantive and Microsoft were the real fathers of marketing attribution. I once spoke with a former senior exec from aQuantive who told me that: attribution was the jewel of the acquisition, but inside the Windows-dominated culture, the diamond got lost.”

In the words of Shakespeare: “It is a wise father that knows his own child.”

It’s our job to carry on.