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View-Through Attribution: The most important KPI you’re probably not using

When it comes to effectively measuring the performance of your marketing, key performance indicators (KPIs) are extremely important. It is vital to have a full working knowledge of exactly which KPIs are relevant and what they actually mean. A lack of understanding about the true meaning of any marketing metric, as well as how it affects the success of your marketing, makes the metric meaningless and unhelpful.

The Problem with Click-Through Attribution

If an online car shopper saw three impressions, clicked on the third and then purchased a vehicle, the sale is typically attributed to that final click. However, each of the three impressions should be considered as an influencer to that sale.

Why should you care?

Up until quite recently, dealers used click-through attribution to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, as this was really the only direct path available to trace a digital conversion to a sale. Multi-touch attribution wasn’t readily available and was also very difficult to accomplish.

Click-through attribution has caused dealers to make marketing and budgetary decisions that, at times, have hurt them. While it may be the simplest and most direct path to attribute sales, just because a consumer converts via a certain form or widget, doesn’t mean that is what actually influenced them to choose a particular vehicle or dealership. Dealers and marketers end up reallocating budget to other sources, or cancel marketing partners that are in fact very influential at driving traffic to VDPs, or the dealer’s website.

The one KPI that is the most important, but rarely taken into account, is View-Through

Attribution.

With click-based attribution you only see a very small part of the customer’s purchase journey. In fact, our data shows that measuring View-Throughs significantly increases sales attribution for display, third party, auto, and Facebook, versus what is reported from click-based attribution alone.

What is View-Through Attribution?

View-Through Attribution (VTA) is quite simply the ability to quantify and measure the influence ALL your advertising has on each consumer during their individual road to the sale. Whether that consumer is exposed to Facebook ads, display ads, or paid search ads, each medium can influence that consumer in their final purchase decision. But drawing a direct line between an impression and the final sale can be very difficult to achieve. View through attribution includes any instance where that consumer viewed an ad, doesn’t click on it but later goes and visits a dealer’s website.

Digital Marketing Made Attribution Easier but Less Accurate

As digital marketing has evolved, first and last-click attribution models became the preferred way for CMOs and marketers to attribute sales. Of course, we now know that those attribution models have flaws and fail to take into account all of the influences that led the buyer to make a purchase.

View-Through attribution is the most important KPI for one simple reason: more people choose not to click than to click. According to a study by comScore, 16 percent of consumers are responsible for 80 percent of all display advertising clicks. In addition, non-clickers account for 90 percent of site visitors and are responsible for over 90 percent of pageviews once they get there.

The study found that focusing on the click ignores the 84 percent of Internet users who never click, and the more than 90 percent of site visitors who were exposed to ads but did not click.

This may not come as a surprise to you when you consider the typically poor click rates of display ads. Consumers shopping for cars just don’t click banner ads. However, this does not mean that you should entirely dismiss the influence of display ads in the car buying process. In fact, our data shows that display ads have a significant impact on click-through rates within a couple of days of the consumer viewing that ad.

Retargeting and View-Throughs

The advent of retargeting has increased the influence of View-Throughs. Rather than just seeing an ad multiple times (whether relevant or not), retargeting allows display ads to be shown to lower funnel consumers.

For example, if you searched for a blender on Amazon, landed on one but did not purchase it, it’s very possible that specific brand of blender then starts to appear in ads served up to you as you browse the Internet. This technology allows marketers to make their display ads more relevant to an individual consumer.

However, this doesn’t mean that you will eventually click on one of those ads and purchase the blender. It could simply continue to remind you – consciously or subconsciously – that you need a blender. When it is time for you to finally make the purchase, you could simply type Amazon into your browser, navigate to that blender’s page and purchase it.

The same applies to cars. Except that, in the automotive space, consumers will often just appear at the dealership and make the purchase without clicking or converting anywhere. And let’s not forget that View-Throughs also apply to video, as well as Internet radio ads, such as those on Pandora. A consumer’s exposure to those ads is certainly an influencing factor along their buying path.

How Much Influence Should You Assign to View-Throughs?

Determining the influencing value of a View-Through depends upon the goals of any given marketing campaign. The key is to assign them SOME value. If you’re using all click-based attribution, and failing to measure View-Throughs, you could end up cancelling the vast majority of your media as it would seem that it has no influence on sales, when in fact it does.

The ability to properly attribute View-Throughs is only possible with properly placed tracking codes. In the automotive industry, not all third-party sites will accommodate those tracking codes. However, it is a very simple process of just placing a small piece of code on the site.

You’d think they would all love to have the ability to measure and report to their dealer clients just how influential their site is to that dealer. It would certainly be in their best interest to do so. A great example of this in action is our partnership with CarSoup.com. As a result some of our dealers were able to attribute 10-15 times more traffic directly to CarSoup View-Throughs. That makes a huge difference in marketing.

As attribution gets more attention the time will come for third-party auto sites to embrace it. I truly believe that attribution will be the big thing going in 2017 for the simple reason that dealers want to know if their marketing investments are performing.

Just measuring click-throughs, or leads to sales, and negating the influence of View-Throughs has caused dealers to cancel vendors and services that were in fact performing well. Tracking View-Throughs effectively solves this problem – they are simply a KPI that cannot be ignored.

View-Through attribution is a key performance indicator that should be included in any Multi-Touch Attribution model. The whole purpose of Multi-Touch Attribution is to properly measure the marketing influences that every single initiative has on a consumer leading to the eventual sale. Failing to credit the influence of View-Throughs means that you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. And that could well mean decreased sales and profitability.

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Steve White
Steve White
Steve White is CEO of Clarivoy (www.clarivoy.com), the auto industry’s leading provider of Multi-Touch Attribution. He founded the company in 2009 as a digital agency and created an industry-leading performance-based pricing model, only charging clients if he improved their keyword rankings, incremental traffic and leads. This model required an obsession with identity resolution, tracking, analytics, and attribution which eventually led to Clarivoy’s evolution. Today, the company is focused on one thing and one thing only - Multi-Touch Attribution - and continues to launch new and innovative marketing analytics solutions for the auto industry. Considered a digital marketing pioneer, Steve has over 20 years of experience working with clients to ensure they get the best results from their traditional and digital marketing campaigns. In 2014 he was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Central Ohio.

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