NEW YORK: True cross-channel, cross-device attribution is still at least five years away, a leading industry figure has said.

Nick Jordan, svp/ global strategy at Tapad, a specialist in cross-device content delivery, told eMarketer that, as the industry edged towards a consolidation of the technology stack, the various platforms available to marketers would "start to have some commonalities in terms of how they buy and measure effectiveness".

But, Jordan added, that wasn't going to happen this year or next. "We're probably looking at more of a 2020 thing if I had to guess when we might see such an all-digital/media mix modeling tool capable of truly holistic, cross-channel, cross-device attribution," he said.

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On the pace of development, Jordan observed that "multichannel, cross-device attribution is still largely a talking point. But with companies like Google, AOL and Facebook hopping on board, adoption should hasten at least a little bit".

A major challenge, he suggested, was structural, since much buying and attribution by agency staff is still done in silos, with the various teams – display, mobile, search, social, television, offline – incentivised by their own channel and not the larger marketing program.

"What buyers are going to have to do is find a way to incentivise all those teams to do what is right for the brand at a macro-level instead of the micro-level they're currently focused on," Jordan said.

That means understanding how all the various channels interact with each other, but the current bottom-up and top-down models fail to achieve that. "Ultimately, what marketers need is a data-driven method of tying both approaches together to really get the results they are looking for."

He accepted that it would never be a simple process, but argued that the data and technology existed to significantly improve how people approached attributing the value of marketing and advertising.

"It's never going to be a fully solved, perfect science equation. But I do think we can do better as an industry than we're doing today."

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff