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Blended Attribution: An Introduction

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These days, most people don't click on ads. But that doesn't mean they aren't influenced by them. Most of us can remember a time when we saw an ad and were reminded of a product we were previously shopping for, which prompted us to open a new tab to search for the brand. A/B testing has shown that this matters: There is significant and provable lift associated with a user viewing an ad, even if that user does not click. So why are some marketers still evaluating their campaigns based only on clicks when they can look to blended attribution?

Marketers can improve the accuracy of their campaign measurement by accounting for changes in the way people interact with ads. While it made sense in the past to look only at click-through conversions (CTCs) when evaluating a campaign's success, it is now important for marketers to look at both clicks and views. View-through conversions (VTCs), which help marketers track the number of people who were influenced by an ad they saw but didn’t click on, are vital in evaluating and improving campaigns.

A blended attribution model takes both clicks and views into consideration. When used effectively, it can give you better insight into your campaigns while motivating your vendor to drive more incremental conversions (instead of just chasing clicks). You probably already know how to value clicks, but learning how to value views can be challenging. The main focus should be on setting an intelligent view-through window and percentage allocation. Here are three strategies to try as you determine what works for your particular industry and objectives:

1. Shorten the Attribution Lookback Window

The lookback window determines how much time can pass between an impression and
a conversion in order for the conversion to be attributed to the campaign. For example, if the lookback window is set to three days and the conversion happens on day four, then the conversion doesn’t count. In general, the shorter the buying cycle for your industry, the shorter your lookback window should be.

2. Use a Discounted Percentage

Another approach is to keep a longer window but use a discounted percentage when
valuing VTCs. For example, an advertiser might count them for 30 days, but only at a 15% rate, because their testing has shown that ratio to have an impact on the campaign. It is important to run your own tests to find the ratio that works for you.

3. Tailor Your Approach to Specific Campaign Goals

AdRoll's testing has shown that conversion trends vary depending on what kind of business is running the campaign (e.g., retail vs. B2B) and what action the campaign is trying to drive (e.g., a purchase vs. a whitepaper download). Be prepared to count VTCs differently depending on what you are trying to measure, as well as your industry’s buying cycle.

Although calibrating the exact weight of view-through conversions can be tricky, it’s worth the investment to arrive at an intelligent blended attribution model that accurately measures your vendor’s performance and ensures the effectiveness of your campaigns. For a more comprehensive look at blended attribution, check out AdRoll's Blended Attribution Playbook. This in-depth guide explains the benefits of using blended—rather than last-click—attribution models provide examples of how to use A/B testing to measure VTCs, and offers recommended lookback windows by industry.

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