In the latest roundup of panels from Music Ally’s recent Sandbox Summit 2018 conference in New York, the focus is on how attribution modelling is changing for digital music marketers, thanks to the rise of streaming and growing importance of D2C retail.
If you’ve clicked on an article with a headline about attribution modelling, chances are you know what it is. But just in case: it’s the term used for the way people measure the impact of marketing through sales and conversions – how the credit for those sales is attributed.
(Google has a good overview: explaining how different attribution models would work for the scenario where: “A customer finds your site by clicking one of your AdWords ads. She returns one week later by clicking over from a social network. That same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly and makes a purchase.”)
Moderator Wesley T. A’Harrah, Music Ally’s head of training and development, opened the conversation by asking how difficult it is – as we straddle out-of-home advertising, streaming, retail, merchandise, ticketing and more – to figure out what is causing different types of interactions by music fans.
Emily Frost, the advertising strategist at Universal Music Canada, explained how her company is taking more direct control of the processes and data here, to better understand what triggers consumer behaviour, and how their journey from discovery to purchase/stream goes through a variety of gates.
“We brought digital advertising in-the house two years ago and moved away from working with agencies. The main reason for doing that was because be recognised we had so much first-party data at our fingertips that was going unused,” she explained.
“We also knew we weren’t really getting an understanding of what kind of attribution models the agencies were using and how we were really looking at the success of our campaigns. A lot of it was click-through attribution and a lot of the focus was on how many clicks the ads got as well as what the CPC [cost per click] was.”
Frost explained that as the music industry continues to go digital, and as streaming partners become even more prominent in label marketing, that click-through attribution cannot be the only measure of success.
“By bringing it in-house we started utilising first-party data and looking at how people are consuming ads on Facebook and Google Ads, as well as going from mobile to desktop – and [then] looking at how we can reach them, ultimately funnelling them into a position where they can consume or purchase,” she said.
Jeppe Faurfelt, co-founder and CCO of Linkfire, explained how his platform is trying to bring greater clarity here for marketers wanting to better understand the consumer journey.
“We work on three principles: the first is an attraction; the second is a conversion, and the third is retention,” he said. “We try to fit in for all those three categories.”
Linkfire monitors how people are first attracted to an act or product and then tracks what happens when they go to landing pages as well their DSP of choice.
“The goal for us is about how we can get third-party data into the flow as well,” he said, before giving an example of this in action. “We obviously just launched with Pandora [in March this year] so when it comes to the conversion and retention side of things they actually give us information back about if that person who came from Linkfire ends up streaming, following or sharing.”
For Frost, properly segmenting not just the consumer but also their behaviour will increasingly be key as there is a danger of relying too much on presumption rather than measurable behaviour.
“I don’t know if it’s a flaw, but there is [a risk of] getting caught up in the idea that clicks are all that matter. We need to understand that if we are marketing a single or an album, just because someone clicked, it doesn’t mean that they streamed or it doesn’t mean that they purchased,” she said.
“We also know that 80% of people who see an ad don’t necessarily click it – but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t find a way to go and stream or purchase. It’s just understanding that it’s not so black and white and that we have to look at it from different viewpoints. We also need to get a little bit more sophisticated in how we are reaching people.”
There’s a need for marketers to improve the way they segment fans, who respond to ads in very different ways. The emphasis, per the panelists, was for marketers to recalibrate their strategies to fit the key performance indicators (KPIs) of each individual campaign.
The topic raised by Faurfelt – how labels can market into streaming service from outside them – was understandably a focus for more discussion.
“When it comes to marketing into streaming services, that is something that we do really struggle with. Linkfire and Pandora is a good example. I think those kind of partnerships are essential to us on the label side,” said Frost.
“We really need to understand that, once a consumer makes that last click, if we are looking at it in a last-click attribution model, do they actually stream? Or are they saving that track to their collection? Are they following the artist? In that space, that is something we are still really trying to get into and really develop an understanding of.”
“We are hoping our partners will share data with us that will help us understand that. On the D2C side, when we are running direct-to-consumer ad campaigns, the ROI is often very obvious, but it is not so black-and-white when it comes to streaming marketing.”
When it comes to ticketing, it can be easier to get to some of this data, as Faurfelt pointed out.
“As the world is still clicking on things [before voice-activated services have an impact], you can track the whole funnel from first click until last click – and that is why it is so interesting to have partnerships that really allow you to drill down to that consumer funnel to let you see every click that happens along the way, even if that person drops out,” he said, providing an example with Linkfire’s partnership with Ticketmaster.
“What we’re seeing typically is that most of the traffic comes in from mobile device, up to 75%, but most of the consumption and conversion happens on desktop, which could be 75% or 80% of the tickets being purchased,” he explained.
“That makes you wonder if there’s going to be so much stuff that we are not reporting on right now which falls into view-through attribution because you’re clicking on mobile but buying on desktop. The question is how you make the connection between those two devices because obviously it’s going to be the same people who got interested on mobile but then went and purchased on desktop. Cookies here still do not jump well.”
Frost ended by saying that making proper sense of consumer activity across platforms and devices must be the priority for everyone in this space.
“We have seen enormous growth in some of our D2C stores since we brought media buying in house. I think it all comes down to looking at the data and understanding the consumers that you are marketing to and then using that data to build out qualified audiences that you can then retarget,” she said.
“It’s really being able to do that across devices and across platforms, developing a creative that really works to get those people into the purchase funnel.”
Disclosure: Linkfire was also a lead sponsor of the Sandbox Summit conference