Todd Crawford – Impact Radius

The Importance of Attribution Data for Performance Marketing

Live Blog of Todd Crawford’s Session at Affiliate Management Days San Francisco

Todd of course has a tremendous pedigree in affiliate marketing. From co-founding Commission Junction, to his work with Digital River, and now at Impact Radius, Todd has pioneered many of the measurements we use to understand performance marketing campaigns.

Todd started talking about the EPC metric, and how it was one of the quintessential measurements at the turn of the century, and where we’ve come since then. Of note were the lack of impression metrics for key super affiliates, since they server their own ads for the most part.

He then hoped that more affiliate managers were looking at new sales versus returning sales, and what types of affiliates were really key in new customer acquisition. Todd indicated that commission levels should be thought of around that metric. Are you going to give a better rate to an affiliate retuning previous buyers? Or should you offer a higher commission to those that are sending a higher percentage of new customers.

Defining Attribution

Simplified: How many ads did a buyer see, where did they occur, how did they influence the conversion (ad content), what was the total, actual cost.

He adds that correct attribution is inevitable. Your channel may not be looking at it, but others around you are. Compares it to the birth and growth of site-side analytics. Early adopters are on it, soon EVERYONE will be on it, so learn it now.

What are the attribution channels that you should measure? There are channels within channels, and the more granular you can get, the better. In the affiliate space, it’s a segregation in the types of affiliates.

You need to determine how far back in time you want to go before the outcome in determining influence. Compare it to your average sales cycle, perhaps, and attribute outcome weight based on time and sequence.

The channel roles can be Initiator, Contributor, Closer, etc. Build your attribution model around these groups. Internally, look at affiliate value differently than you look at actual commission values paid out. It will be different, and can be used to set long term commission rates.

Attribution Misconceptions

It’s not objective data. It is subjective. As a team, work to make it objective.
Real Time Data is attributable. Attribution actually happens over time, not immediately.
We Understand Attribution for Us. You don’t. It changes over time. The web is dynamic.

Looking at Affiliates

Your most “valuable” affiliate is the one that has conversions that don’t touch ALL your conversion attribution channels. If the customer isn’t seeing your display ads, isn’t clicking your PPC ads… then that affiliate has a customer pool that you don’t otherwise have access to. Value them.