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Apr 16, 2014 | 4 minute read

Gain Competitive Advantage with Attribution: Predictions from Adobe Summit

written by Lisa Walker

A key takeaway from this year’s Adobe Summit is that if your business can capitalize on things that are out in the marketplace right now - sensors, mobile, social, wearables - you will be able to establish an immense competitive advantage and potentially radically shift your business model into something you may not even have conceived of yet.

Peeking into the crystal ball was Tamara Gaffney, Adobe’s chief Digital Index prognosticator, and Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, who hosted an enlightening session on Adobe’s latest insights and what they might mean to the marketer.

The Funnel is Dead

With the proliferation of channels and devices, today’s customer journey is increasingly complex - spanning mobile, social, online, offline, wearables, time and location to name just a few. As such, customer experience is no longer a linear engagement; it is now a “continuous continuum of customer experience happenings” that looks more like a 3D spatial map when all the data points are lit up rather than the traditional funnel of yesteryear.

To better understand the complexity of a customer’s engagement map and establish ROI on marketing spend, Gaffney’s advice was that Attribution Modelling should be a top item on an enterprise’s to-do list in the next two years.

Attribution is Key

Attribution is the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events. Marketing attribution provides a level of understanding of what combination of events influence individuals to engage in a desired behavior, typically referred to as a conversion.

In layman’s terms, attribution is determining exactly where people are coming in from (laptop, tablet, mobile, wearable and/or geolocation) and what is bringing them in (social, YouTube, referral, direct, email, organic search) and then using data models or algorithms to detect interesting patterns in engagement and conversion maps.

The Power of Attribution

While Gaffney’s advice is sound, each enterprise will have different requirements as to what they put into an attribution model. As Avinash Kaushik writes:

There are few things more complicated in analytics than multi-channel attribution modeling. A lot of that is because of all the stuff we don't know. There is lots of missing data. And as if that were not enough, there is lots of unknowable data.

Ultimately, attribution is going to come from multiple sources but some attributes are going to be more valuable than others. Knowing this might change your business models entirely and is the reason Gaffney lists it as a priority.

Changing Forms, Changing Behaviors

Adobe Digital Index also looked at how different interfaces and levels of connectivity were changing people’s behavior. Those who had a smartphone with a 5-inch-plus screen said they do more social media on their mobile phone now versus their tablet and they browse less on their tablets than they used to do because now they have a device that’s more connected.

Video to the Rise

Gaffney predicted video is becoming much more important to customer engagement, driven by sports viewership, bigger screen size with phablets and faster bandwidth speeds, with gaming console posed to be one of the biggest consumption platforms.

Gaffney’s advice for videos? Keep it under 2 minutes, even under 60 seconds to optimize for short attention spans, precious bandwidth and small screen size.

Prediction about the Internet of Things

According to both Gaffney and Wong, the Internet of Things is going to matter immensely. While the market for Google Glass is still exceedingly small, Adobe’s data shows it’s the fastest growing new device accessing web content, mostly for sports viewership.

Wang also offered some timely advice for those thinking about engagement strategies with beacons. He recommended businesses figure out which sensors they want to work with, what offers they want to put into place for people to respond to and at which points do they want to collect data.

Big Data: Real Time and Relevant

Wang counselled that the data beacons are going to bring in will provide the marketer with valuable information which can be leveraged to produce real-time mass personalization and contextual relevance. For example, a marketer can design an experience with specific content based on where the customer is because location comes into play.

However context is not only just about location or time variables. A marketer might also want to think about the existing relationship already in place with the customer: What is their previous purchasing history? Their average order value?

This data is going to change the way offers are served up, with “right time, real time” fully contextual offers becoming increasingly important.

It’s all about Big Data

Gaffney and Wang predicted that every business is going to come down to big data - the digital exhaust that people leave behind. All this metadata that is sitting there contains contextual clues that are essential to capture because this is what is going to help you figure out attribution, click through and conversion rates.

It is also the secret to improving your customers’ experience of your brand by allowing you to create a more frequent and more personal relationship with them.