5 Marketing Attribution Challenges in 2023 (And How to Solve Them)

By Chris Liversidge 26 January, 2023

As marketers face a landscape that includes the inevitable budgetary pressure that comes along with recession, the pressure for more effective marketing attribution around spend is rearing its head too.

Interestingly enough, against this backdrop, research data from Gartner predicts that 60% of CMOs plan to cut marketing analytics teams in 2023. Citing ‘failed promised improvements’ as the reasoning behind the decision.

But where does this leave marketers as they plan for 2023? And what solutions might those 60% of marketers turn to for better analytics?

Here, we consider the 5 marketing attribution challenges that marketers need to address this year, including:

  1. Reduced marketing budgets and the increased need to prove ROI
  2. The inevitable impact of the removal of 3rd party cookies
  3. Pressure from Google to move to GA4
  4. The need to overcome platform bias in reporting
  5. How to get an attribution view that measures the entire customer journey

Key marketing attribution challenges facing marketers

1. Reduced marketing budgets and the increased need to prove ROI

The nature of the challenge

As the UK heads into recession, the impact of the way budgets are set, and monitored, is going to come in for a shakeup.

In fact, data in the Integrate’s State of Marketing Budget Report suggests that a quarter of marketers expect their marketing budgets to reduce in 2023.

And the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) report that nearly 30% of advertisers say they are cutting spend next year, with 74% also indicating the downturn is affecting budget decision-making.

What happens in a downturn is that marketers’ challenges change as the focus turns from where they might spend new budget to having to justify existing spend to their CFO. And according to LinkedIn, 77% of CMOs are feeling the increased pressure to prove short term ROI right now.

However, one of the biggest challenges that marketers are facing today is getting the right type of access to tools to make the case for their spend. With 2/3rds of marketers agreeing that they don’t have the right type of solutions to support cross channel decision-making.

What you can do about it

At the most fundamental level, now is the time to ask yourself if your existing analytics solution (which for many is GA or Adobe Analytics) is really giving you the accurate picture of customer journeys and conversion that you need. A picture that means you can confidently stand in front of your CFO and defend the impact of your spend.

Both solutions above are typically tracking single device journeys which represent only around 20% of these journeys – and deliver snapshots for a very short period of time. In fact, restricted to the period just prior to conversion.

But, as we know, buying journeys start much further up the funnel.

Make sure your analytics solution is able to track and report on this activity so that you have a true picture of what is happening on the ground and right across the customer journey.

The nature of the challenge

There has been a huge amount written about the upcoming switch-off of third-party cookies.

And there is little doubt that it is one of the key challenges facing marketers today.

Part of the reason it matters so much is the sheer scale of the Chrome browser prevalence amongst users with almost 64% penetration globally.

Removing this huge chunk of the browser market, with all of the attendant issues for personalisation of advertising and retargeting is a huge deal. And, in reality, only adds to the existing issue whereby the vast majority of browsers like Safari and Firefox were already blocking cookies anyway.

What you can do about it

So, how do you take account of the change and prepare for a cookieless future?

Think of it less as a marketing challenge and leverage it for the opportunity it clearly is.

The impending removal of 3rd party cookies is going to have a fairly seismic impact on the advertising industry and marketing strategy across the board. Use it to make the same level of seismic changes to your own strategy.

  • Make the most of your first-party data – while developing first-party data has always been an important part of your strategy, the death of third-party cookies makes it high on the list of marketers’ challenges right now
  • Stay up to date with Google’s proposed solutions – it will pay dividends to keep tabs on Google’s Privacy Sandbox as the industry-wide discussion around proposed solutions rumbles on. Proposals have had a mixed reception to date with FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) falling by the way side but it is worth checking progress on other solutions that Google is proposing like Google Topics API (targeting and personalisation), Google FLEDGE API (retargeting) and the new Attribution API (reporting).

3. Pressure from Google to move to GA4

The nature of the challenge

As if the impending removal of cookies wasn’t enough for Google to ask marketers to contend with right now, there is also the not inconsiderable marketing challenge surrounding the need for existing GA users to move on to GA4.

So, what is the context for this? Google has suffered pressure from a number of high-profile legal rulings in the European market which have questioned the GDPR compliance of GA. Partly in response, Google has announced plans to sunset the Universal version of its GA solution by June 2023 and has asked users to transfer to its new GA4 solution by that time.

What you can do about it

  • It is worth reviewing some of the history of the discussion around the potential illegality of GA to satisfy yourself that it’s the right solution for your needs going forward. Bear in mind also that there is no portability between Universal Analytics and GA4 – and ask some searching questions of the default Last-Click attribution approach being used.
  • If you are a GA user, it is also worth digging into what your existing instance of GA is actually telling you in analytics terms. In our own experience of working with clients we find that 80% of the raw data generated by GA is typically incorrect due to limitations in the way it collected.
  • Look at alternative solutions. Cookie based solutions are not the only game in town and alternatives like AI driven solutions can help you overcome some of the limitations in them.

4. The need to overcome platform bias in attribution reporting

The nature of the challenge

According to figures from emarketer, the combination of Google, Facebook (Meta) and Amazon together accounts for 74% of global digital advertising. With Amazon showing huge year-on-year increases recently in the region of 60%.

So, advertisers are increasingly ploughing funds into these platforms which take a ‘walled garden’ approach to data sharing and reporting. The problem for advertisers, as highlighted by Forbes – amongst others – is that the measurement provided by these players is giving a view from their perspective only.

And research by QueryClick also uncovered the fact that an astounding 80% of marketers are concerned about the issue of bias in AdTech reporting.

What you can do about it

The answer is to rebuild your data in order to establish the true data analytics view you need. Devoid of any channel-based bias.

In this client example, online clothing retailer QUIZ, saw revenue being reported of £450k by Facebook analytics for a specific campaign. While Google Analytics was showing only £20,000 attributable revenue for the same campaign (so 20x less).

By using Corvidae, we were able to rebuild the underlying client data and establish the true revenue generation figure- which was just under £250,000.

An attribution view that simply wasn’t possible in either GA or Facebook platform analytics.

5. How to get an attribution view that measures the entire customer journey

The nature of the challenge

Customer journeys are getting increasingly complex – and as a result – increasingly complex to track effectively.

Taking place across a range of different devices and being influenced by a wide range of media both on and offline.

Research by Forrester suggests that 56% of consumers use their mobile device to research products and Marketing Week found that buyers also use an average of almost 6 touch-points on the buying journey.

The marketer’s challenge is untangling the complexity of these journeys effectively – particularly in the cookieless future – and that is going to be pivotal for marketing success in 2023 and beyond.

Related: A Complete Guide to Customer Journeys (And How to Effectively Track Them)

What you can do about it

Look for a solution that sidesteps the bias of the big platform vendors, by enabling you to effectively rebuild your raw data from the ground up. And removing the poor data quality issues associated with cookie and pixel type tracking which is inherent in solutions like GA and Adobe.

One that avoids the issue of siloed channel teams effectively ‘marking their own homework’ and distorting the global picture of the effectiveness of brand and performance spends right down to channel level.

We have pioneered the development of our attribution tool, Corvidae which leverages the power of AI and Machine Learning to leave the challenges outlined above well behind. Delivering attribution that is now 95% more accurate than traditional attribution solutions.

Need to learn more? Download a copy of our Buyer’s Guide to Selecting the Right Attribution Solution and find out:

  • What attribution is and why it is so important
  • Some common misconceptions about attribution technology
  • 4 clear signs you might need a better attribution solution
  • Some helpful tips for choosing the right solution for your needs
  • Plus – some guiding thoughts to factor into your selection process

Buyer’s Guide to Selecting the Right Attribution Solution

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