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Thought provoking ideas that cause the client to realize the expertise an agency brings their business.

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Attribution Solution Models

I developed these attribution solution models the afternoon following a long meeting where I was trying to explain to my coworkers at the advertising agency why data integrity is the most important task in advertising. This wasn’t the first time I was trying to speak science to a group of creative experts. As you may well imagine, my opportunities in an advertising agency to speak to coworkers about data in general are infrequent. One of the important elements in advertising that I have learned from my coworkers is that advertisements need to be believable. In digital advertising we preach – relevancy in advertising. The brand message must also be passionate. These are all key components for a data scientist, and I think maybe even more emphasized when working at an advertising agency.passionat models

Attribution Solution Models

Believable, Relevant, and Passionate 

 The attribution problem has two models. The first model is when the client business is a franchise and the second model is for non-franchise businesses. At the top of both models is the consumer purchase. This works for all cases including website properties that are not ecommerce enabled. The end result the client is seeking for the return-on-advertising-spend (ROAS) is a sale to the consumer. All of the relevant information about this sale is then uploaded to the customer relationship management platform such as Salesforce, Zoho, Oracle. Netsuite, Hubspot, etc. Some of this information is used by the marketing team and the advertising team to develop advertising strategy in the feedback loop. From the feedback loop the advertising methods for the offline and online channels is rolled out. The advertising directs the consumer’s to the website.

Attribution Model 1 and Attribution Model 2

Once the consumers are at the client website the two models separate. For the franchise the consumer is typically introduced to the products, services, and features and then directed to a particular franchisee. For example many banks have a corporate website that helps to guide the consumer to the closest branch office. Each branch office may have their own website or a subdomain of the corporate site. The national basketball association (NBA) is an example of this method where each of the individual teams has a subdomain of the primary, domain. The non-franchise attribution solution models skip this step. From there moving forward, the two models become identical once again.

The Attribution Problemattribution solution problem

The attribution problem model now identifies the first problem. “Lack of data reliability.” This is usually the case when working with Google and Adobe Analytics as the primary data management platform (DMP). Not because Google Analytics is a bad platform, it is an excellent platform. The cause is usually that the platform rarely gets configured to meet their business strategy. There are over 100 customization settings in Google Analytics that must be configured to correctly track and to correctly report website information. The customization also affect advertising performance, user experience and behaviors, and conversion metrics. Usually, the business installs the tracking code on the web property and that is the extent of the platform development. In short, the reliability of the data coming from the website ranges between 25% and 30%.

When a chief marketing officer, digital marketing professionals, and other executives saying something similar to: “we’ve tried optimization techniques like A/B testing, SEO and SEM and other methods and none of those ever increase the bottom line revenue.” It’s a “Reliability Issue” red-flag.
attribution solution models 1

Finishing the Attribution Problem Modelfranchisee

Moving up in the franchise model to the franchisee website typically leads to a dead end for data collection and data analysis. At best – it’s more of the same reliability issue. Some franchisees have autonomy for their advertising strategy, website tracking, performance optimizations, etc. and the only information they feedback to the franchise are completed sales. The attribution solution models represent this lack of transparency with a large question mark.

The In-store, Brick and Mortar Attribution Model

On the far left side of each attribution solution models are the brick and mortar variable. This is usually called the in-store visit. The consumer has seen the advertisement(s) and visited the website and then made a purchase at a store location. Alternatively,  they saw the advertising and did not visit the website but did go to a store and purchase. The later posing the nearly impossible to solve attribution problem. As such, I’ve left that consumer path out of the attribution solution models. While there are some sketchy (at best) methods for tracking these consumers it is usually in violation of privacy policies. Many of these methods do not follow good advertising practice. Besides the possible legal implications, I leave it off of my attribution problem models because my attribution solution models (ASM) provides a fairly precise method for accurately attributing to that consumer segment.

An Attribution Solution Model

The attribution solutions models is a process I’ve developed over the last 12 years while working with many different business verticals. Over this time I’ve primarily used  Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics for data management platforms. The solution begins with the development of the attribution solutioning model guidelines. The Attribution Solution Model Guidelines (ASMG) is a comprehensive technical document. The content of this document is intended for a Tag Management Developer and a Google Analytics Developer. The guidelines provides specific information they will require to accomplish the attribution solution shown in the article images. There are four sections to the ASMG .

  1. The website analysis or Site Tracking Assessment
  2. A list of specific request for the client and the website developer.
  3. The tag management developer guidelines
  4. The Google Analytics developer guidelines

attribution solution models

The attribution solution models, non franchised business.
attribution solution models

If your company or your agency would like more information on the attribution models discussed above please contact me.
A  primer for attribution modeling

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How Data Integrity Saves Your Business Thousands of Dollars

Businesses are using Google Analytics to track and record website performance data more than any other analytics tracking program. Not only are businesses using it more than any other program, but year after year Google Analytics is growing in market dominance. With nearly 65% of Fortune 500 companies adopting Google Analytics and Google Tag Manger[1] it is clearly the powerhouse for web analysis. According to a report from KissMetircs[2], the majority of Google Analytics installations are incomplete or not setup correctly.
google analytics typically installed inaccurately

Google search results for Google Analytics Inaccurate

Poor data Integrity is costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year.
The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) estimates that poor quality customer data costs U.S. businesses a staggering $611 billion a year…  [3]
According to a survey from ISAS (May 2016). [4It isn’t just small and medium sized business who may not have a dedicated Data Integrity process but it is a problem that affects even large businesses. A recent release of bad data news announced from the Wall Street Journal story, the impact of poor data integrity at Facebook on the advertisers meant thousands of paying customers were not getting accurate information regarding the impact of their advertising. Those companies were making businesses decisions for over a year based on statistical analysis built from data that is inaccurate, incomplete, and filled with errors.

A lack of DATA Integrity can result in many costly mistakes:
  • Increasing advertising budgets to channels and mediums where the conversion rates are incorrectly indicating high performance results.
  • Decreasing advertising budgets to channels and mediums where the conversion rates are incorrectly indicating poor results.
  • Changing content and navigation on the website based on incorrect, incomplete, or data that is missing key elements from user results and user engagement.
  • Financial impacts, such as increased operating costs, decreased revenues, missed opportunities, reduction or delays in cash flow, or increased penalties, fines, or other charges.[5]
  • Confidence and Satisfaction-based impacts, such as customer, employee, or supplier satisfaction, as well as decreased organizational trust, low confidence in forecasting, inconsistent operational and management reporting, and delayed or improper decisions.[5]
  • Productivity impacts such as increased workloads, decreased throughput, increased processing time, or decreased end-product quality.[5]
  • Risk and Compliance impacts associated with credit assessment, investment risks, competitive risk, capital investment and/or development, fraud, and leakage, and compliance with government regulations, industry expectations, or self-imposed policies (such as privacy policies).[5]
In my experience I understand it takes a combined effort of an experienced Google Analytics integration professional, plus the key stakeholders of the business, and a website development team to ensure the data integrity is intact. In today’s always online business the change in technology, methodology, and needs of the business and its customers are a constant. In my role as senior data science and analytics management I’ve developed the necessary methods to accurately complete the installation of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Search Console, and more. If my client already has installed any or all of these, the process works to identify where data integrity is valuable and where it is at risk. Find out if the data your Google Analytics account is capturing is providing your business with accurate business intelligence.

  1. Data Integrity Scorecard: A 21-point checkup of the client’s Google Analytics data. The Score ranges from 1 to 100 with 100 being perfect. Any score below 50 we cannot, nor should the client use the GA data for reports, tracking, performance, budgets, etc.
  2. Site Tracking Assessment Guide (STAG): This is a comprehensive review of the client’s web property where we identify and document all of the tracking opportunities for developing goals, funnels, custom dimensions and metrics, custom reports, key demographic segments. and the initial design for a custom attribution model.

[1] Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Dominate Fortune 500

[2] Common Google Analytics Data Errors

[3] Data Quality and The Bottom Line

[4] Business Impact from Bad Data

[5] Knowledge Integrity Inc. Report

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How to retarget and remarket

How to retarget and remarket provides steps and strategies for the digital advertising opportunity. Retargeting and Remarketing are often considered to be the same thing. they aren’t. Retargeting is the practice of sending many different advertising offers, calls to action, copy, etc. to the same visitor. Remarketing is the practice of sending the same advertisement to the visitor over and over again. Retargeting is the best approach to use if the key-performance expectation is to drive direct response conversions such as downloading a whitepaper report, registering for an email list, purchasing a product or service, and so-on. Remarketing is best used for branding where the frequency of the advertising is measured by the lift to the website’s ‘Direct’ traffic in number of sessions gained. It is easy to understand that remarketing is simple since it requires the least amount of strategy and preparation. While retargeting is the more sophisticated of the two processes.

How to retarget and remarketRemarketing optimization:

  • The first step requires a lot of early emphasis on testing (A/Bn and Multivariate). Through statistically designed experiments using or Google Analytics the advertiser tests ads to identify the optimal brand message.
  • Once the advertisement that drives the desired increase to ‘Direct’ traffic sessions is found then the remarketing campaign should begin.
  • A remarketing pixel is placed on every page of the advertiser website to maximize the opportunity to deliver the ads to the maximum number of site visitors.

Retargeting optimization:

  • Segment the audience to create relevant ads based on their interests and matched to specific products and services. One of the most powerful aspects of retargeting is the ability to personalize the advertisers retargeting ads based on the products and services a person is interested in. Tailoring the ads based on the web pages they visit and how they interact with the advertiser’s site will make them more likely to click-through and convert. For example, someone who visits the pricing page is going to be ready to purchase sooner than someone who has just visited their blog.

Consider this simple 4-objective strategy as a starting point to the drill down from and to help identify the optimal retargeting strategy for the advertiser.

  1. A visit to the homepage only, the retargeting ads should be focused on highlighting the business to keep top-of-mind advantage in the eyes of this bounced traffic. These ads will be the most general, and the goal should be generating awareness and driving them to an optimized landing page.
  2. A visit to service/product pages, this means they’re starting to consider making a purchase. These ads should be tailored around the specific products or product categories they were looking at. This will create excitement (and combined with a great feature-benefit, or offer) it will entice them to come back to the advertiser’s website.
  3. A visit to read the advertiser’s blog, they’re trying to make a decision about whether the company will meet their needs. This type of retargeting ad needs to feature a strong offer in the call-to-action, something like a free 30 day returns, or one-on-one demo. The purpose of this ad is to ensure they have all of the product information necessary to make a purchase. The landing page for this advertisement must provide the benefit of purchasing from this advertiser.
  4. A download of content or register for more information, this visitor will purchase through an email nurturing campaign. A well developed and systematic nurturing campaign that entices the visitor to engage and interact through a series of emails each with additional content and customer case studies. Show them how they will benefit from using the advertiser’s service/products.


technical data for retargeting and remarketing

Very few advertisers and marketers know how to read technical reports. Click here for help.

2.) Add a conversion pixel to stop advertising to (and wasting money on) people who have already purchased or signed up. Chances are the advertiser already has a drip-marketing campaign in place that is designed to retain and resell to existing customers. The last thing you want to do after someone has converted is continue to retarget them with the same offer. It’s like when you give money to one of those street charity people and then you turn the corner and there’s another one. Pretty soon you’re having to cross the road to avoid them because you’re sick of saying “I’ve already given you money!”

  1. By adding a conversion (burn) pixel to the post-conversion page (thank you page) the advertiser can either stop or change the ads that consumer is shown.For example, if a visitor downloads an ebook from the advertiser, invite them to join a webinar on the same topic. Or, if they’re already a customer, show them offers for complementary products to cross-sell them, and offer them maintenance packages or upgrades.
  2. A conversion pixel will not only keep the advertiser’s customers happy but will also save the advertiser money they can allocate to more productive digital advertising needs. After all, what’s the point in showing a retargeting ad that contains an offer someone has already converted on?

3.) Limit the Frequency to avoid annoying potential customers. In order to achieve the highest conversion-rate on your retargeting ad you need to show it the right amount of times. But what is that magical number? This is something you need to test ( or Google Analytics) to be certain but as a general rule most people will behave in a similar fashion based on where they are in the buying cycle. As defined by the Analytics and Data Science attribution models.

Consider this strategy while helping the advertiser thinking about how often to show retargeting ads:

  1. Overexposure will generally result in decreased campaign performance because of banner blindness (where consumers ignore ads) and can result in a negative association with the advertiser. Watch for peak conversion performance and drop off points.
  2. Showing ads approximately 17-20 times per month will usually result in optimal performance for most verticals.
  3. The number of ads to show will vary based on what the advertiser provides, who shops for those items and how long the potential customer will be receptive to the ads. It will take experimentation, trial and error to find the optimized frequency. For example, selling clothing for consumers versus software for businesses you’ll want to change the frequency the ads are shown. This is something the advertiser will have to play around with to find the right number for each service/product.

4.) Keep the advertiser’s ads fresh and exciting to encourage clicks. Just because someone hasn’t converted on the retargeting ad doesn’t mean they’re not going to. There’s a big chance that the offer or benefit in the ad just didn’t resonate with them.

  1. If someone doesn’t convert on the retargeting ad after the first 10 days, chances are they’re not going to convert on the 30th either. Plus, the longer it’s been since the last time they’ve visited your website, the less likely it is that they will be interested. See the conversion models from Analytics and Data Science to identify conversion length and path analysis.
  2. The best way to convert people who have been retargeted for a while is to change up the ads. When the advertiser changes the benefit, offer or combination of the two the ads will be fresh and they’ll stay top-of-mind in the consumer’s eyes.

Consider these ideas when consulting with the advertiser about keeping the advertising fresh.

  1. Change the benefit: A benefit is something that the customer perceives as valuable and as something that will help them accomplish their goals or relieve their pain. For example, if you were the owner of a cleaning business and someone visited your website but left without sending in a request. The following are different benefits you could highlight in various ads:
    1. Flexible times: “Come home to a fresh house every night – we clean while you’re at work!”
    2. Making your life easy: “We clean so you have time to relax”
    3. Giving you more time: Spend more time doing the things you love (not cleaning)
  2. Change the offer: The offer needs to be compelling enough for someone to click it. If you have an irrelevant offer or an offer that isn’t worth their time, they’re not going to click it. Encourage people to visit your cleaning website (and convert):
    1. Free Trial: “First clean is on us”
    2. Discount: “20% off when you buy a cleaning package – this month only!”
    3. Free product with purchase: “Free cleaning products when you purchase any cleaning package”
  3. Many marketers and advertisers try to lure abandoned visitors back with coupons or discounts. This can be risky as some customers may deliberately abandon their carts to search for future discounts. When retargeting switch between showcasing benefits or offers to see which performs better for the advertiser. ( or Google Analytics)
  4. Remind the advertiser that customers don’t always follow a linear buying pattern. Just because they’ve visited the website or downloaded the ebook, doesn’t mean they’re ready to convert. Giving them more information will assist them in their purchasing journey.
Programmatic marketing concept for retargeting and remarketing

Programmatic marketing concept for retargeting and remarketing.


5.) Send every ad to a dedicated landing page using the UTM guidelines to enhance the opportunity to identify and test performance. Each retargeting ad needs to send traffic to a unique landing page that has the same look and feel of the ad that was clicked. When people click an advertisement the landing page confirms they have been directed to the right page. Make sure every landing page has a single call-to-action. Having a single call-to-action will make it easy for the visitor to focus on it and not get distracted by anything else and this will maximize conversions.

  1. Ensure the advertiser understands the landing page is essentially an extension of the banner advertisement. They’ll want to provide the same messaging in the headline and call-to-action without over doing it with irrelevant information.
  2. Never send advertising traffic to the home page of a website. There is no bigger waste of advertising spend than to waste traffic on the home page. Every ad requires a unique landing page with a relevant call-to-action.
  3. Use a dedicated tracking UTM for each ad + landing page campaign.
  4. If using pixel tracking, use a unique pixel for each ad + landing page campaign.
  5. Never use the same tracking pixel or UTM for multiple ad + landing pages.


Retargeting is an easy and profitable way to increase an advertiser’s conversion-rate and ROAS so long as you know how to coach and consult with them for how to do it.

Send me examples of your best retargeting and remarketing campaigns and be automatically entered for your choice of either a free site audit or PPC audit for your advertiser.

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