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Direct Response Marketing

Media Zone: Attribution Models Help Marketers Find the ‘King’

1 Jan, 2016 By: Patty Mertes, Cannella Response Television Response

In direct response television — where response is still king — TV attribution has become a focal point for both marketers and agencies. Now, in addition to the traditional, “Call now!” prompt, marketers and advertisers also rely heavily on drive-to-Web, retail, and app installation as the response mechanism — sometimes moving away from the 1-800 number prompt altogether.

While most in the industry have been aware of the halo effect that television provides to other distribution channels and its ability to impact consumer behavior beyond ordering via the traditional 1-800 number is undeniable, being able to truly measure what that looks like is often a source of confusion.

Because of this, it is critical to understand television’s overall impact as a performance-based marketing channel in order to successfully rollout and scale a campaign. Today, there are a number of media measurement companies that provide valuable insights on the impact of TV on digital response, while documented evidence continues to show that accurate TV-to-Web attribution is taking the guesswork out of determining the combination of tactics that drive the greatest response. Most apply an algorithmic approach, with the methodology able to ingest very granular TV and digital response data to build a highly accurate model for TV attribution.

However, in order to get a full read on the impact of television on digital response, it is imperative to establish a baseline. A deep understanding of baseline behavior against all website key performance indicators (KPIs) driven by non-television channels must be taken into consideration before spot-level TV attribution is implemented.

Further, robust baseline models can also factor in additional influences, such as seasonality. This enables a much more accurate attribution of TV’s overall impact on website KPIs, as many campaigns will see an organic lift in website traffic and conversions that can tie back to peaks in seasonality. Through this baseline modeling process, any lift can be accurately identified and attributed back to the proper marketing channel when television is turned on.

With a solid baseline model that is continuously refreshed as the campaign grows, marketers and their agency partners should be able to unlock insights and provide answers on how TV efforts perform as a whole. Further, in addition to interpreting the impact of TV over the baseline, these insights can further optimize a television campaign by determining which network, time of day, day of week, or TV creative sends the most traffic and conversions to an advertiser’s website.

Establishing the baseline model is only the first step. Once in place, it is important use that benchmark to further improve overall campaign performance. While Web attribution models have become increasingly more sophisticated and intelligent, the answers they provide are still only directional and relative.

So where traditional DRTV looks at just 1-800 attribution, a more insightful television media strategy will look at both testing the media mix against the digital baseline — what mix drives the highest level of overall response — as well as testing the media mix against spot attribution — what television spots are performing most strongly — to determine the optimum performance at the best ROI.

The direct response television model looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, with an increased variety of call-to-action and response options widely employed. And while response is still king, how consumers respond is now a much more varied landscape. But without a proper understanding of how all channels interact, we could just instead be further muddying already cloudy water. Luckily, television media agencies now have a variety of tools at our fingertips to best harness the insights they provide and understand the true power of the TV medium. ■

Patty Mertes is group director, short-form, for Cannella Response Television. Based in Los Angeles, she can be reached at (323) 935-4995 or via e-mail at

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