Ben Samuel explains how multi-touch attribution helps agencies increase transparency, differentiate their offering, and build stronger client relationships.

Trust and transparency are the foundations of successful brand and agency relationships. Yet a recent ANA survey reveals less than 30% of marketers have a high level of trust in their agency partners, with transparency cited as a core issue.

To prove their value, agencies are increasingly turning to multi-touch attribution – cited as one of the top three opportunities for the UK advertising industry in 2019. Here are three ways multi-touch attribution helps agencies increase transparency, differentiate their offering, and build stronger client relationships.

Providing an accurate picture of performance

Knowing what’s working is key to delivering results for clients. But the tangled digital path of today’s consumers makes marketing measurement a complex task. While agencies can reach their clients’ target audiences through multiple channels, devices and platforms using a variety of tools and technologies, tracking and attributing consumer activity can be arduous. Much of this information is stored in silos with no easy way to pull it together. Some agencies are forced to manually “stitch” together incomplete data sets when determining the effectiveness of a particular tactic, while others are basing their decisions on the consumer’s last interaction with a brand (i.e. last-touch metrics).

But these approaches can lead to costly mistakes and inflated success. When channels are managed in silos and measured using different metrics, agencies can’t tell how they are working together to drive desired business outcomes at each stage of the funnel. And since channel-specific metrics can lead multiple teams to take credit for a single conversion, it creates duplication and reporting that’s contradictory, misleading, or altogether wrong.

Multi-touch attribution solves these issues by accounting for the cross-channel consumer journey. It consolidates and normalises data to provide agencies with a granular, near real time understanding of how individual channels and tactics are driving response throughout the consumer journey, right down to the creative, keyword, and placement level. Agencies can use this insight to make smarter investment decisions and maximise the performance of the marketing and advertising campaigns they plan and execute on their clients’ behalf.

Driving revenue and efficiency improvements

Agencies are stewards of their clients’ investment. As such, they need to keep their media performance promises if they want to retain existing clients and win new business. When agencies don’t have a clear picture of what is working and what is not, they can inadvertently waste budget by allocating spend to the wrong channels. In fact, recent research found that siloed, last-touch measurement approaches can overstate the contribution of a channel to a particular key performance indicator (KPI) by as much as 49%, and understate the contribution of a channel to a particular KPI by as much as 215%. These inaccuracies equate to missed opportunities to reallocate budget to drive efficiency and top-line growth.

Multi-touch attribution helps agencies build trust by giving them the power to deliver on their promises. They can look at performance more holistically and amplify the channels and tactics that are driving response for each audience, ultimately increasing revenue and efficiency. The near real time nature of multi-touch attribution also allows agencies to quickly identify when something isn’t working and reallocate funds to better performing channels and tactics while campaigns are still in flight.

Perhaps more importantly, multi-touch attribution can help agencies determine the most effective frequency levels. Many agencies run campaigns using reach and frequency metrics that don’t account for consumer exposure across the channels they don’t manage. As a result, an agency may think it’s exposing a consumer to five impressions on a given day, when it’s really closer to fifteen. By using multi-touch attribution to analyse the complete consumer journey and determine how frequently to run each ad or campaign, agencies can positively impact conversions and other desired outcomes while reducing waste caused by over-exposure.

Allowing data-driven reporting

When agencies have an in-depth understanding of performance, supported by transparent reporting of results, they can prove their impact and long-term value to clients.

With multi-touch attribution, agencies always know what is going on with their client’s campaigns and are prepared to answer questions with data to back up their responses. It also allows agencies to be more innovative. They can test new ideas and concepts with confidence, based on a clear understanding of what resonates with each client’s target audiences and drives them to take action.

Finally, credible performance insights can help elevate an agency’s profile from purely transactional to a strategic partner that can help clients answer the bigger questions.

Increasing trust between brands and their agencies requires a new level of transparency that multi-touch attribution can provide. By delivering an in-depth understanding of performance within and across channels, enabling close to real-time optimisation of client campaigns, and empowering transparent reporting and innovation, multi-touch attribution helps agencies build long-term client relationships based on a foundation of openness and trust.