Ever since John Wanamaker uttered the words, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, marketers have been trying to figure out how to measure attribution in their media plans. From last click attribution, to weighted attribution, and even the holy grail of multi-touch attribution, marketers are still searching for that perfect way to assign conversion credit to the ad which generates the sale.
Now Horizon Media is attempting to conquer this hill by transitioning to an outcome based media buying model. In theory their plan makes sense – optimize media buying in real time towards broadcasters and publishers who deliver the best conversion rates. That’s what already happens with Performance buys, and now Horizon is trying to apply the same outcome metric to its regular media division.
Of course, shifting to a full-scale outcome based model comes with some challenges. For instance, what about the vast majority of TV and Radio impressions which blindly deliver a data-less audience? Even if the ad drove a purchase, if you don’t know who saw/heard the ad how can you assign credit when they buy? Then consider product categories with a more complex path to purchase, like automobiles and travel. Think of all those branding ads you’re exposed to over months (even years) before deciding to buy a car. How can we give those upper funnel ads the attribution credit they deserve?
There’s a reason why nobody in the history of marketing has been to totally solve the attribution puzzle – it’s nearly impossible. So it will be interesting to see if Horizon can put the pieces together.