Atlas Study Critiques 'Last Click' Attribution

  |  June 11, 2007   |  Comments

In a new Atlas Institute study, 90 percent of consumers that converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen.

Too often the "last click" continues to get all the credit for an online sale, when consumers are actually most influenced by widespread overlapping advertising across multiple sites, according to a new study by the Atlas Institute.

The study, titled “How Overlap Impacts Reach, Frequency and Conversions,” asserts that 90 percent of the consumers that converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen, and that far too often the proper credit for the sale is inappropriately given to search.

"Right now when you look at how advertisers are evaluating their campaigns, when a sale appears on their Web site, they credit the last ad or click with the entire credit for that sale. And more often than not that last click came from Google," said Young-Bean Song, vice president of analytics for Atlas. "So wow-holy-cow, it looks like Google is responsible for the vast majority of sales on the site. The consequence of that is month after month, they buy more Google and cheap advertising space."

The study found that two out of three consumers who eventually took a responsive action were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before actually going on to make a purchase, and that consumers reached across multiple publishers were twice as likely to convert as those reached only on a single publisher.

"When you reach people across multiple sites, you increase sales," said Song.

Marketers looking to get the most of their online advertisements should reevaluate not only who gets the credit for sales, but also how to effectively manage the overlapping ad placement on multiple sites, and perhaps take a new look at "old" methods of advertising across television, radio and print ads, according to Song.

"A lot of the sites that we thought were not performing are actually some of our best performers, and vice-versa. A lot of the sites that they are investing in may be getting more credit than they deserve," said Song. "It's going to be one of the things that helps traditional advertisers who get this idea -- who have been doing this with TV and radio, and seeing how they overlap. The rules are going to change. The way advertisers are viewing and evaluating the performance of their campaigns is going to change."

The Atlas Institute is a division of advertising technology provider Atlas. It conducted the survey by analyzing media campaigns of 16 advertisers across major manufacturing, retail and health sector Web sites.

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Matthew G. Nelson

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