Watch this space: big players gobble up attribution solutions

Jerry Rackley

Attribution Goes Mainstream
By Jerry Rackley, Chief Analyst, Demand Metric


On May 6, 2014, two of the three best known advanced attribution vendors were acquired on the same day. Google acquired Adometry and AOL acquired Convertro. It’s important for marketers to understand the implications of these transactions.

Advanced attribution is an approach for accurately allocating fractional credit to elements of the full stream of media content that a customer sees as they are going through the purchase funnel. With advanced attribution, marketers can know with precision what media stream elements are really responsible for someone converting, and to what degree. Having this granular data was once an impossible dream for marketers, but it is now a reality.

The precise performance data that advanced attribution provides allows marketers to make much better decisions about their media mix. It eliminates the guesswork about what to add and what to take away, intelligently boosting the performance of the full media stream across all channels and devices. Advanced attribution gives marketers a powerful competitive advantage, particularly with rivals who have not yet embraced it.

In its January 2014 Outlook Study, Demand Metric predicted: “…marketing attribution will cast a big shadow over the 2014 marketing landscape.  It really is about answering what many marketers have considered an unanswerable question:  which of my many marketing efforts are having influence, and to what degree?”  Interest in marketing attribution began to register in 2013, and as marketers understand what it provides, no marketer will want to go without attribution data.  It helps link the work marketers do to the results they produce.  The value of understanding this relationship is immense; to know this is a Holy Grail of marketing.”


With the acquisitions of Adometry and Convertro by two of the biggest online advertising platforms, the adoption afterburners have been lit. If the movement toward advanced attribution was occurring at a leisurely pace before these acquisitions, it’s now become a race for several reasons:

  • Awareness: the simple fact that Google and AOL are the acquiring companies is enough to make anyone sit up and take notice. Those marketers who were not previously aware of advanced attribution won’t remain in the dark much longer.
  • Authenticity: if there were any doubts about how legitimate advanced attribution is, or how well it works, they have been erased by these acquisitions.
  • Adoption: It’s in the best interests of Google and AOL to help their advertisers understand with great precision how their advertising platforms are working. Since attribution of digital media elements is done through pixel implementation or by tagging, Google and AOL have the opportunity to make the implementation very simple, even automatic. They also can choose to make attribution more affordable, if not free for their advertisers, because Google and AOL would probably prefer to simply sell more advertising than charge for attribution.

While we wait and see exactly how Google and AOL will deliver its newly acquired attribution capability, the pace at which it will go through mass adoption is about to accelerate.


For marketers who have not yet acquainted themselves with the capabilities of advanced attribution, now is the time. Right now, advanced attribution provides a powerful competitive lever; in the not-so-distant future, attribution will become a playing field leveler that every marketing organization will embrace to some degree. Failure to operate and make campaign decisions without the performance data attribution provides will put businesses at a significant disadvantage.

From an industry perspective, advanced attribution is a space to continue watching. Two of the three established vendors – Adometry and Convertro – have been acquired. One remains: Visual IQ. No doubt, these recent acquisitions have spurred on the efforts of other suitors for this last survivor, and it is interesting to speculate who that suitor could be. Adobe appears committed to its own cross-channel attribution efforts. Companies like Facebook, Yahoo and even IBM seem likely candidates. Whoever it is, we probably won’t have to wait long to find out.