Published June 2016
Ford of Canada and their agency partners (Mindshare, Catalyst and GTB) were looking to better understand customers’ online journeys, from first seeing an ad to considering a purchase. They needed a solution that could support thousands of online conversions and would reveal which advertising tactics worked, for whom and at what point in the journey. In other words, they needed a new way to measure impact, and they found it in Data-Driven Attribution from DoubleClick.
Ford, one of the largest digital advertisers in Canada, runs numerous programs throughout the year, from search and display to social and video. To measure them, they leaned heavily on last-click attribution, but knew this two step journey left out many crucial touch points. The majority of incoming conversions were assigned to the most common last-touch channel: search.
When the team started seeking an enhanced attribution solution, they realized that they lacked a comprehensive view of all digital media. So Ford's first big step was to consolidate all search buying into DoubleClick Search, managing campaigns across multiple engines in one system. This gave the team unified tracking and reporting on all digital channels.
"Suddenly we could see the true impact search has together with other media," said Philip Kwok, Digital Media Investment Manager at Mindshare. "That was when we really started to challenge the validity of last-click attribution and look for more accurate options."
Kwok’s team realized many media channels were contributing to purchase consideration actions, but few of them were getting proper recognition with a last-click approach. "We asked ourselves how we could properly attribute conversion on high impact tactics such as pre-roll video where we optimize to completions and not clicks.”
The arrival of Data-Driven Attribution (or DDA) opened up those new options for Ford. DDA uses advanced digital metrics and economic statistics to offer recommendations on how to assign credit to all digital media ads served through DoubleClick, accurately and automatically. Each touch point gets the credit it deserves in real time and it adapts to the ever changing customer journey.
Kicking the tires
"We’ve always known the role search plays in driving conversions as the last touch point, but we didn’t know how to measure the true value other media tactics along the consumer journey," said Kwok. "As we moved away from a last click attribution model, the numbers for non-search channels went up, often by double digits.”
The biggest surprise was how much influence video and display truly had on conversions in the path to purchase. Media tactics which had been primarily intended for awareness objectives were contributing as conversion-drivers. It surprised us as to how many conversions were attributable to them.
Taking a test drive
A few months later, the team was ready for a formal test on selected campaigns chosen for their weight in all media tactics: display, video and social. The question was simple: Could DDA lower the cost per action (CPA) on Ford of Canada’s website?
The Mindshare team measured numbers throughout September as a baseline. In October, they began optimizing campaign targeting and budgets based on the credit given to each channel and media partner according to the enhanced attribution model on the DDA platform.
The results were impressive: a 25% lower CPA for digital display media in just one month, which included adjustments the team made to make sure seasonal changes weren't affecting their results.
"We've always looked at data to influence how we go to market. Media and creative efficiency and effectiveness is part of our DNA," said Morden. "Data-Driven Attribution gave us a holistic way to think about multi-channel impact. Now we really see which channels are influencing others across the digital ecosystem."
Hitting the gas
In addition to that 25% savings in cost per action, Ford of Canada also saw its click-through rates skyrocket. Overall CTR for display test campaigns went up 480% in the first month alone.
To sum up: in its first few months on the job, Data-Driven Attribution saved an average of 25% on CPAs while increasing click-through rates nearly five times over. Not a bad result for a team that set out to better understand each tactical execution’s impact in the customers' journeys.
"Search is still a great driver in delivering results for Ford and will continue to play a key role in capturing the end interest of a consumer’s journey," said Morden. "The question for this program was whether the true contribution of our other tactics affected the end result and if we could better leverage tactics like display and video to help deliver more in search. The answer was easy: ‘Yes!’ Other channels absolutely play a vital part in assisting the end conversion and when optimized in real-time through the DDA platform, it can deliver some powerful results."