Sales attribution in cross-channel retargeting

Digital marketing thought of the day (with Tommi Salenius):

There are two channel types for online ads: “first-channel”, meaning the channel that gets a customer’s attention first. And “second-channel”, where we run retargeting ads to activate the non-converted audience from the first-channel.

There are also two types of consumers: “buy now”, meaning those that buy immediately without the need for activation. And “buy later”, meaning those that require longer time and/or activation to buy.

So, depending on how well the first-channel is able to locate the different consumer types, you might see very different performance results. If the first-channel is good at locating the “buy now” consumers, it will show good performance and the second-channel will show bad performance. In contrast, the opposite happens if the first-channel is good at locating “buy later” consumers; in this case, the first-channel will appear weak and the second-channel will appear good.

This typology highlights the complexities of attributing campaign performance in cross-channel environments: a channel might do well in locating potential buyers but another channel might claim the credit for the sale.