A while ago, I wrote about the long list of reasons we click on something. This is just the background to a much bigger debate – of why we eventually buy something. That final conversion is fought over every day by a hundred different parties. And yet the state of the market is still generally to pay for the last click…
So I’m going to analyze what made me buy my last cellphone – the Samsung Galaxy SII.
Let’s be focused and just look at the last 10 years of my life (friends of my parents when I was a child were Korean, and the connection was first made then, but we have to set some limits on this attribution). Brands from that region of the world are part of a group in my brain, as for so long they have lead innovation and continue to (Sony, Asus, HTC to name but a few). And in that sense a positive experience with Sony has at some level also reinforced Samsung as a brand.
So, over the last 10 years, I have
- Seem Samsung ads (TV, Online, Magazines, etc) perhaps 5 times a month – so 600 times
- Seen Samsung products in general (TVs in particular) perhaps 10 times a month – so 1200 times
- For three of those years I owned either a Samsung TV or another Samsung phone – so 300 times year, or an extra 1000 times
- Read articles that mention Samsung perhaps 5 times a month, so another 600 times
Of course, not all those 3400 brand exposures were positive, but in general the vast majority were either positive or neutral.
Shorter term, over 1 month of researching buying the phone, I
- Spent at least 20 hours reading blogs, watching YouTube reviews, reading forums, etc (yes, I am a geek that way)
- Talked to maybe 5-6 friends about their phones (including Samsung ones)
- Clicked on a few Google ads related to the phone
- Searched on Google maybe 30-50 times related to the phone and purchase
- Checked out the phone carrier website numerous times to see availability and latest news
- Realised the phone would be free on an upgrade
- And bought the phone
So who do I credit with that last action?
Well, you could put a percentage contribution against each of the 1000′s of actions and exposures above. It would have to be thorough, and take into account primacy (my first experiences of Samsung and similar brands were positive), frequency and recency as well as serendipity and impulse. And of course the whole long list of reasons that make me click in the first place….
The only way to do this, of course is to use the massive resources now available to process large volumes of data and discover attribution. There is little ground between being very simplistic (last click wins) and something that is scientifically meaningful.
It feels like relatively few people are anywhere near this task in online marketing, despite the fact that billions of dollars are paid out by advertisers for the results.