Attributing results is essential for agencies and marketing teams to give accountability on ad spend back to the client and show how that client’s ad spend is turning into results. However, measuring and attributing results for traditional media channels such as print, broadcast radio, television, or out of home is less straightforward than digital media channels. In this blog, we will discuss ways for agencies, advertisers, and clients to think about attributing results back to traditional media channels.
The Difficulty of Measuring Traditional Media Channels
Measuring the impact of traditional media channels can be more difficult than digital efforts because they are harder to track.
Unlike digital media, traditional media channels cannot be tracked as accurately or attributed in the same way. It’s difficult to assign causation to some traditional media channels, and the best data that we can get is an approximation or correlation. Thus, traditional media measurement requires different approaches to triangulate its value. While TV is the most attributable traditional media channel, it still has limitations in measurement. This makes it essential for agencies, advertisers, and clients to understand the trade-offs and limitations of traditional media measurement and select the right approach that aligns with the types of answers they’re seeking.
Understanding the Trade-Offs
Agencies, advertisers, and clients need to understand that there is no perfect attribution solution that can accurately track users in every channel, including print and outdoor.
Each channel has its trade-offs. If you want an all-in-one solution, you’re making a lot of assumptions and losing granularity. If you want granularity and specificity, then you’re making trade-offs on breadth of measurement and the things that you can measure.
Ultimately, advertisers need to understand that there is no perfect attribution solution that can accurately track users in every channel. If you want an all-in-one solution, then you’ll be making a lot of assumptions and losing granularity.
Triangulating the Value of Traditional Media Channels
With all that being said, you probably still need to show the value of your traditional media. There are lots of different ways to try and triangulate the value of traditional media channels. Here’s the best way to prove the value of each traditional media:
Print: on/off incrementality testing
OOH: geo experiments
TV: probabilistically correlating spot times to web traffic spikes
Broadcast Radio: matched-market tests
Experimenting with One Variable at a Time
The best practice is to test one variable at a time and experiment on only that one variable. If marketers want to figure out the value of radio, they should leave everything else status quo and experiment only with radio. If you try to test more than one thing at a time, you will not be able to tell which variables are driving the results. If you experiment with print, TV and radio at the same time, it’s difficult to attribute changes in performance back to any one of them.
Setting Client Expectations
Clients, advertisers, and agencies need to manage their expectations and understand that tracking users in every channel is not possible. They should understand that each channel has its trade-offs and that a perfect attribution solution does not exist. They should also understand that measurement takes time and that it’s essential to select the right approach that aligns with the types of answers that they’re seeking.
Measurement and attribution is essential for agencies and marketing teams to give accountability on ad spend back to the client or leadership. While measuring traditional media channels is less straightforward than digital media channels, there are ways to triangulate the value of each channel. Marketers need to experiment with one variable at a time, set client expectations, and understand the trade-offs of each channel. By doing so, they can select the right approach that aligns with the types of answers that they’re seeking.