DANA POINT, CA: Attribution and measurement remain a "work in progress" for many brands, which often still rely on simply first-touch and last-touch metrics, a leading executive has argued.

Geoff Ramsey, chairman/co-founder of research firm eMarketer, discussed this theme while speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) Digital & Social Media Conference.

"Consumers are seamlessly flowing from one device or platform to another, and it is very challenging to reach them," he said. (For more, including a wealth of media-usage data, read Warc's exclusive report: The latest digital trends from eMarketer.)

Drawing on industry research, Ramsey reported that just 3% of companies worldwide believe they are "completely integrated" across all functions.

A further 43% were self-described as being "poorly integrated", while 46% asserted they were "improving" in this area.

A primary reason behind this lack of understanding relates to the difficulty of constructing the structures and processes needed to fully understand the increasingly complicated media universe.

"Complex attribution and measurement models certainly remain a work in progress," said Ramsey.

Two-thirds of marketers, he continued, typically look to "last-touch" or "first-touch" metrics in their measurement strategies.

Such an approach, however, is not sufficient, as it effectively means they are "ignoring all the activity, exposure and engagement that happened prior to that", and thus miss out on the nuance of the current path to purchase.

"Only 22% of marketers," Ramsey added, "say they're using cross-channel attribution approaches."

To more rigorously appreciate how consumers leverage different digital tools, brands need to have a much more expansive remit.

"The end goal is to try to harvest the streams of data that are coming from mobile, from social, from video, across all platforms and devices," said Ramsey.

As consumers increasingly hop between one device and the next, pursuing such initiatives is becoming a necessity.

"They expect you to be there, too, and to be able to recognize them," said Ramsey.

Data sourced from Warc