Why is Cross-Platform Attribution & Optimisation So Important?


You are responsible for executing your organisation’s digital marketing strategy of maximising ROI from investments across multiple channels. These channels include paid search, display, video, affiliates and paid social. On what basis do you make decisions about how much to invest in which channels, for which audiences, at which points in the conversion funnel, for which products and with which marketing assets? 


Making such decisions within specific channels such as paid search is complex enough, but now make those decisions across multiple platforms, many of which don’t easily facilitate the integration of data from other channels. Implementing cross-channel funnel tracking is of course, the very first place to start. Without a single view of truth across your marketing channels, investment strategies are little better than guesswork.

Cross-platform attribution and optimisation can have a massive impact on the performance of individual channels and your overall marketing campaigns. Let’s look at a simplified example, modelled on real-world cases, to see how can dramatically drive performance in the wrong direction  or with the right data, radically improve performance.

Understanding Cross-Channel Performance

You’ve created a marketing campaign to acquire new customers across paid social (Facebook & Instagram), search (Search Ads 360) and display (DV 360). At the end of the first day, you can see within your Facebook Ads Manager that the Facebook Conversion Pixel on your website recorded 20 conversions with a budget of $20.00; yielding a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of $1.00. Nice.

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However, you’ve also installed cross-channel click tracking (using a tool such as Google Campaign Manager) across all channels you are using and have chosen to use a Last Click attribution model to assign conversion credits to individual channels. You run your cross-channel funnel report and can see that out of a total of 28 sales, Facebook was responsible for 11, search 12 and display 5. With a de-duplicated view of channel performance, the actual CPA for Facebook is $1.82.

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This data is relatively useless to you just yet, so you look deeper into your Facebook campaign performance. You have two separate ad sets within your campaign, each with different creative and addressing distinct audiences. According to Facebook’s own conversion report, Ad Set “A” delivered 11 conversions while Ad Set “B” delivered nine sales. Separately, your cross-channel funnel report, records three conversions against Ad Set “A” and eight against Ad Set “B”.

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Why is this the case? Facebook and other walled garden platforms are unable to “see” the other interactions that a customer has with your brand before purchasing. Facebook doesn’t know that a user first interacted with your brand through a video ad on YouTube or searched on Google for your brand immediately prior to purchasing. In our example Ad Set “A” was responsible for more engagement higher up the purchase funnel. On the other hand, Ad Set “B” drove a higher volume of sales directly.

Opposing Choices

Using the data from the Facebook conversion report versus a cross-channel funnel report will lead to opposing optimisation decisions in this instance. Facebook’s Campaign Budget Optimisation tool will over time shift budget towards the higher performing Ad Set “A”. Whereas, with human intervention or using an automated application such as Bionic that can optimise against cross-channel performance signals, budget will be reallocated over time to the Ad Set “B” which is delivering more actual conversions.

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Radically Different Outcomes

The outcome can be radically different from each strategy. Within the Facebook environment, by Day 7 the campaign appears to be performing excellently. Budget has been shifted towards the “higher performing” Ad Set “A” and the platform has delivered 22 conversions. However when viewed from a cross-channel perspective, all of this activity is further put up the funnel and overall conversions directly from Facebook have actually declined. The Ad Set “B” which actually delivered more sales has been starved of budget.

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A tool like Bionic will consider the cross-channel funnel performance signal as the most downstream and therefore the highest priority conversion goal. Over time and based on performance in real time, budget is gradually reallocated to Ad Set “B”. The outcome is an increase of 27% increase in sales from the same overall budget. This leads to improved overall campaign performance thanks to the elimination of double-counting and inefficient spend. 

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This represents a 57% swing from the walled-garden automated optimisation approach to the cross-channel funnel optimisation strategy. If we extrapolate this out to a realistic scenario where you are spending $30,000 per month spread equally across Search, Display and Paid Social; the improved efficiency in Facebook alone represents an 18% efficiency improvement across the entire campaign.

Each customer’s path to purchase will be different and will invariably involve multiple touchpoints. Different marketing channels play different roles at each point in the customer journey. Forming a unified view of the customer journey across channels and being able to appropriately and rapidly respond to performance data is critical to a marketer’s ability to succeed.

To see how one Bionic client benefits from cross-platform optimisation, check out our success story with All Response Media and Better, the largest UK-based charitable social enterprise delivering leisure, health and community services, including 258 Sport & Leisure facilities with 650,000 members.


Cross-Platform Attribution & Optimisation 2019

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Brendan Hughes