Does Your Attribution & Measurement Program Produce More Value Than It Costs? 

The addition of addressable media to the overall marketing mix over the last quarter-century has created dramatically greater demand for measurement as a specialized function across every vertical. The feedback loop which drives optimization—particularly in addressable—is creating value for marketers at a scale and speed unprecedented in the history of marketing. Because tremendous upside remains for performance accountability, a dedicated measurement program remains a top focus for marketers of every stripe—as well it should.  

The upward trajectory of measurement-fueled growth may still be dramatic, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for many marketers to envision continued blockbuster growth. Headwinds like a more privacy-focused consumer, a more engaged regulatory community, a growing “tech-tax”, and a maturing ad market make a successful, ROI-positive Attribution & Measurement (A&M) strategy seem hopelessly out of reach. These concerns are real, but it is much too soon to give up on scalable, measurement-fueled growth; to assume otherwise risks making such thinking a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

What might be more fairly assumed is that the future growth of measurement will require a more orderly and deliberate approach to proving out the value of your A&M program. ROI will need to account for major cost increases associated with privacy protections, brand safety, regulatory compliance, inflation, and market competition for in-demand talent. There is still significant upside, but the return generated on the backs of these investments increasingly needs to be a “show don’t tell” proposition. This pressure will be even greater at the bottom of the economic cycle, an omnipresent liability for everyone.  

Where to start? There are many options, but perhaps the best place is to ask yourself how easily you could illustrate the ways in which your past investments in A&M have produced demonstrable lift in ad performance. It is likely that the truths behind the assumptions of your past A&M investment decisions have changed significantly in recent months. Would knowing the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of your past assumptions put you on the defensive, or would they position you for growth? Will the information you currently glean from your measurement program continue to drive optimal decision-making as AI and machine learning make decisioning an always-on process for everyone?

Knowing the answers is the first step toward winning what comes next. 

Discovering that past A&M stack builds have underperformed is an unpleasant revelation, but those that come to this conclusion should remember that they are not alone—not by a long shot!  Your previous headwinds likely look much like everyone else’s and the limitations you face now are probably shared by most. Getting future measurement right is a matter of trial and error and the cement is still wet on many of the alternatives making their way to market. How well your measurement stack optimization decisions pay off depends on how well you can actively manage the ROI of those decisions. Predicting and optimizing outcomes in measurement will carry some uncertainty for the foreseeable future, but having a real strategy for optimizing your approach specifically for ROI growth is the greatest hedge on uncertainty you can deploy today. 

The need for optimizing measurement is urgent because time and money are more finite than boom times lead one to believe. The commercial internet is now about a quarter of a century old, and one of its initial promises to advertisers was that it would finally solve for John Wanamaker’s famous conundrum—i.e.,  “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” For far too long, the industry has decided that the only spend that isn’t wasted is what is spent on the last click or last impression. Yet, those last click impressions aren’t anywhere near 50% of anyone’s marketing investment…they don’t even make up .5% of impressions purchased. Had Mister Wanamaker believed that only such a tiny percentage of his investment was working, he’d have closed his checkbook early, and permanently and he’d have been right to do so.

It is a sign of how far we have to go that the Wanamaker conundrum remains unanswered, and since no one can buy only the Last Click or Last Impression, it is time to roll up our sleeves and figure out what’s really working; to carry on as-is means accepting that we’re wasting not only half (and potentially much more) of our advertising budget, but also the bulk of our measurement and attribution investment, and a significant amount of time and effort.

At Prohaska Consulting, we firmly believe that your investment in Attribution and Measurement should deliver substantial, demonstrable value. Our A&M practice is purpose-built to give marketers the tools needed to compare the inputs and outputs of their measurement investments, and to benchmark them against practical alternatives, starting with the tech and talent you have today. Accurate ROI calculations, and the power to grow that return, are how the next generation of measurement practice will crown its winners, and those wins are sorely needed.