The ‘last domino’ approach of spot-lift attribution obscures the full story

The ‘last domino’ approach of spot-lift attribution obscures the full story

In response to a recent column, ViewersLogic’s CEO argues that the spot-lift attribution model is not fit for purpose and why marketers must take a holistic approach to measurement.

When I read Gregor Chalmers’ recent article, I was struck by his praise of spot-lift attribution — a measure that should be redundant in modern TV marketing. If marketing is a combination of hammer and scalpel, as Gregor wrote, then spot-lift attribution is the bluntest scalpel in the toolbox.

Flawed by design

As we aim to match measurement in TV to the granularity in digital channels, marketers need to be looking towards solutions that don’t just give simple outcomes. And the truth is that spot-lift, by its very nature, is flawed in its simplicity.

The problem is its short-termism. In a market where consumers are targeted across multiple channels with a variety of messaging, simply attributing outcomes to the last ad they have seen is reductionist and obscures the customer’s journey.

This short-termism becomes even starker when we look at how consumers actually interact with TV ads. When watching TV, you rarely find that consumers reach for their phone to look up a product or visit a website as soon as they see an ad. In fact, less than 1% of responses come within a five- to 15-minute window.

This means that brands are making decisions on how and where to spend money based on a tiny minority of their audience — neglecting 99% of their response data in the process.

Digging further into the numbers, we once again see that spot-lift attribution fails to capture the true nature of the consumer journey.

For the 1% that respond within five to 15 minutes, we often find that they have been exposed to several TV ads in the week before and were “primed” to respond — the last spot is simply the final domino to fall before action is taken. The analogy here would be if someone drank five pints of beer then one glass of wine and came to the conclusion that the wine made them drunk.

This is a model that favours low-rated, high-frequency channels and penalises engaging content. It obscures the impact of ads and leads to wrong decisions. In the case of spot-lift attribution, it would be better to have no data than this bad data.

A holistic look at measurement

Scrapping spot-lift attribution should be a no-brainer. But what next?

The long term is just as important as the short term in evaluating the power of an ad. The measurement solutions that give this more holistic view are ones that marketers need to be embracing if they are to gain the truly granular attribution needed to maximise the impact of their TV spend. Only by looking at spend through this lens can marketers really understand performance.

Single-source data is one such solution. By directly measuring an individual’s behaviour, it better understands the uplift from a campaign and calculates return on investment. It also helps to take the blinkers off for marketers, showing both long-term impacts and how TV ads impact response from other media, such as online or search.

This granularity enables brands to understand which channels, dayparts or creatives worked best so that they can better optimise their plan.

Many purport to offer single-source data, but marketers should be aware that if that data cannot be surfaced within seconds, it’s not single-source. But that is a whole other topic for another article!

I agree with Gregor when he says TV is an exciting landscape — it truly is. But that excitement shouldn’t cloud our judgement when it comes to picking the best tools for measuring its effectiveness.

Ronny Golan is CEO and co-founder of ViewersLogic

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