A Debate on Standards Part 5: Discussing Mobile Attribution With Kochava’s Charles Manning

Welcome to a new part in our series, A Debate on Standards, as we open up a space to discuss the problem that a lack of standards in mobile attribution poses. In this post, Kochava’s CEO Charles Manning joins us for his take on the mobile attribution space

Q: To start off, can you tell us where you see the greatest challenges in the current mobile advertising ecosystem when it comes to attribution?

A: Mobile ad fraud stemming from user-centric marketing and a lack of transparency in the ecosystem are two primary challenges today. Compounding this problem, it seems that most torso and long-tail marketers are bonused in ways that drive ‘installs’ or ‘conversions’ vs ROAS — limiting the marketing organization from understanding lift, incrementality, or fractional attribution by source.

This compounding reality leads to inexperienced marketers being satisfied with basic measurement tools and the industry being satisfied with second rate tools. Marketers who are successful are those who demand flexibility and granular tools for attribution, fraud abatement, fractional (multi-touch) attribution, and back-testing across historical attribution windows.

Our experience has shown that only the top 1% cares about differentiating features like these, and because many of those customers use Kochava. However, the greatest challenge in the current ecosystem is that most customers don’t realize what’s possible, so they don’t know what to ask for when analyzing the right vendor to use.

Q: There’s a lot of talk about working with the right attribution models, but many over-simplify the approach. How should advertisers choose the right model?

A: They should not base their model on media cost! They should have multiple models based on capability. No two networks are the same, and no two clients are either. You need configurable attribution for this reason. Some attribution providers look to see if there was a click or impression and a match. However, advertisers need to build an integrated plan that corresponds with their buying strategies. Was there a direct click or impression? Are you capturing intent, or competing for the same audiences across various sources? Are you segmenting specific cohorts of audiences from various publishers, do you know how to differentiate and segment them, and can you expand on those audiences that are meaningful to you? Moreover, how are you accounting for all of it?

Right now, traditional attribution treats all ad units the same. A video played for 30 seconds is treated the same as a static ad. Realistically, as the reader of this Q&A, do you believe they should be? The indifference that most attribution tools illustrate based on their limited configurability in attribution shows the reality that advertisers using the right tools have an unfair advantage on making their ad spend efficient.

Most people look at it as a process of connecting clicks and impressions to events. But, advertisers have to look at a mosaic of data points, and they must have the right tools that can put those points into perspective in real time.

Q: How do you address the issue of attribution fraud?

A: The Kochava Fraud Suite is designed to identify fraud, protect campaigns from it, and give marketers the ability to customize their anti-fraud strategy. In the suite, Traffic Verifier, lets marketers set rules to cap clicks and impressions. While the data points are still recorded, marketers can decide how to attribute based on the capping settings as part of the campaign setup. Then those rules are applied in real time once launched. Fraud Console provides 13 different visualizations of questionable data flagged across a marketer’s apps. They can review the flagged data and use it as evidence for fraudulent behavior. The Kochava Blacklist will automatically filter out known fraudulent entities (device IDs, sub-publisher site IDs, and IP addresses) that Kochava has identified as fraudulent behavior globally. The Fraud Console easily allows marketers to further add entries based on data from their own accounts to stop fraud as soon as it shows up.

We have zero tolerance for fraud, and we give our customers the most advanced tools to abate it. Just as media sources aren’t created equal neither are attribution or fraud tools. It’s imperative that a marketer who is serious about leveraging their ad dollar use the right tools to make sure they get maximum value.

Q: What trends are we seeing in 2017 and what are the current limitations of mobile attribution that must be fixed?

A: Kochava is seeing various trends:

  • Unifying attribution with other re-engagement tools like push notifications
  • Providing robust analytics tools to understand more than post-install event execution
  • Providing query access to synthesized and unified data structures directly within the attribution platform (over 12-16 month durations)

Q: How important is harmonization of attribution measurement across different channels?

A: It’s very important to marry multi-channel data together for attribution. This is the fundamental way to understand what media sources influence others toward the execution of the funnel.

Not only is multi-channel data important, so is understanding how users across multiple devices are converting so that the plurality of activities across various devices for the same user can be linked and de-duplicated.

Q: The first impressions is/should be the most valuable, yet, the last touch point with the user is what gets attributed — how do you think this problem should be solved?

A: Kochava provides fractional attribution for this reason. We believe that a sound technology platform that enables attribution to be modeled and applied in real time is a winning approach. Further, “Kochava What if?” enables marketers to run back-testing replays to test the theories before putting them into production. In short, we have solved it through the advanced tools that we provide.

The first impression does the most incremental work for users with no previous awareness. In larger campaigns, where several partners are involved, it’s important to have tools to enable marketers to understand value and media sources who are capable of driving traffic that corresponds to the needs of the marketer.

Thank you Charles for your time!

Kochava’s Head of Client Analytics, Grant Simmons, also joined us recently in a webinar and spoke about setting standards to fight attribution fraud. In case you missed the webinar, make sure to check out the recap here!