In the latest Mastering Mobile Marketing video of the series, we quiz Dave Allen from Conversant on mobile attribution, fraud & safeguarding ad spend, see the Q&A transcript below:

Q: Social channels like Facebook tend to dominate from an advertising spends point of view. In wake of some of the issues with Facebook, how do you think brands’ opinions on  how spending on social channels like Facebook are changing?

A: Until advertisers feel confident in a viable alternative, something that is free of fraud, brand safe and most crucially, delivers on business objectives, rather than flawed industry KPIs, a lot may well continue to float to the same big names.

The ball is very much in the court of the advertisers, to scrutinise the industry and examine what those alternatives are because they do exist.

Q: So, do you believe that the way big players, such as Facebook, and they in which they attribute, is fair in the marketplace?

I think you can open that up and ask, is attribution fair?

To determine that the last thing someone does before they go on to buy something is the only thing responsible for driving that conversion kind of discredits all the marketing and branding you’ve been doing up until that point.

If you’re paying out on a last-click model, you’ve got to ask, did that click cause the sale, or is it just another event in the path that’s been correlated.

Q: Attribution and discrepancy issues really sit at the heart of many marketers’ issues. Where do you see the future of attribution at the moment?

A: I think naturally a lot of marketers have lost faith in attribution. For true cold acquisition attribution is necessary so a lot of the marketers will keep their faith in it. That said, there are a number who are exploring other methodologies which enable them to see what the true incremental impact is of their investment, so, I think it comes back to the priorities of the advertisers.

Do you want to optimise your media spends towards generating something new or do you want to optimise them towards claiming responsibility for something you’re already getting?

Q: Attribution gaming is a problem within the marketplace. How would you define what attribution gaming is and what can we do to limit our exposure to it?

A: Attribution gaming is playing by the rules of attribution in order to claim responsibility for something rather than actually driving something. So, for example, if I were able to generate really low-cost ads in front of all your customers, when they eventually buy something, I can claim to have driven it, even though I haven’t. To mitigate risk, a lot of marketers will insist on there being a click between an impression and a conversion.

That does not solve the problem.

At the cleanest end of the scale, it encourages spamming, which essentially is the same principle. If I can get enough impressions out there, eventually when someone clicks I can claim that I’ve driven it. It encourages annoying intrusive formats that generate accidental clicks and they still get attributed conversions. Then at the other end of the scale, it’s just straight up fraud. There are an enormous amount of clicks that aren’t real but are getting attributed. In summary there, post-click attribution doesn’t drive value. It limits your scale, it creates really bad customer experiences, which is detrimental to your brand and it incentivises fraud.

Q: With ad fraud being so prominent in the marketplace, what do you think brands can do to really safeguard their spending?

According to an eMarketer article, about 75% of post-click installs are the result of click-fraud so we’re talking about really big numbers. My advice would be don’t buy on a CPI. There are a number of new CPI brokers propping up in the market all the time, and I would have to ask, how are you actually generating that low CPI? Are you offering tokens for a game and that person will delete my app tomorrow? Or, are fake clicks being fired off and claiming my organic installs?

If you want to generate value, start off buy working with a business that you know is credible, they’ve been around for a few years, they truly have data and scale and integrity, and then go back to basics, in terms of looking at:

‘How many people do I actually want to be in front of and who are they?’

‘What are the attributes that determine that those people are the right people for my app in the first place?’

Then work out what your true CPI should actually be before you optimise.

Q: So, many brands are questioning the incrementality of their advertising spend. Do you think there is a simple way to test for incrementality without doing something drastic like turning everything off and trying to monitor uplift?

A: We don’t want people to turn off all their advertising spend!

The most accurate way measure is through test and control methodology. That said, it needs to be robust and accurate, and it needs to be measured over a sustained period of time . By creating a persistent hold-out group of people who aren’t exposed to your advertising. That’s your baseline, that’s your: this is what I would have got from my existing marketing mix and brand equity, and then, through the people who see your advertising, that’s your lift, and it’s that small percentage difference that represents the incremental impact of your spend. It’s through that that then you’re able to accurately see, for every pound, dollar, euro that you’re investing. What you’re actually getting back in terms of incremental return on that.

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