A day in the life of an... Attribution Manager
Published: 22 April 2013 By Chris Lake
Dan Robinson is Attribution Manager at Havas Media, a digital media agency based in London. Here he gives us a glimpse into his role.
Please describe your job. What does an Attribution Manager do?
Essentially my role is to help our clients understand the true effect of their media activity using marketing attribution.
What is marketing attribution? Techniques include any method of allocating credit for any kind of desirable customer behaviour, whether that be a purchase, a sign-up, an information request or anything really back to marketing activity.
Digital attribution has traditionally been based on the 'last click' method, which simplistically assigns all the credit for any action back to the most recent piece of digital activity seen/clicked on by the user.
I spend my days helping our clients to get smarter about the way that they allocate conversion credit and ensuring that this feeds directly into the campaign planning and optimisation process.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I sit within the Data team at Havas Media and report into the Head of Data and Analytics.
We have all digital offerings under one roof, from creative and media buying to site design and conversion analysis to eCRM and web analytics and data plays a key role in all of these.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
I guess it's similar to other analysis roles in that you need to be analytical (surprise, surprise) but also be able to communicate well to get across insights and recommendations in a way that is engaging but also understandable.
Being collaborative is also very important. We're asking our clients to change the way that they look at their digital activity and this requires a strong degree of trust on their part, of course it helps when they start seeing positive results coming back!
Tell us about a typical working day…
The majority of my time is split between carrying out attribution and other digital marketing analysis and either building regular reports to showcase the results or writing and giving presentations of my findings.
I enjoy getting in front of clients with a presentation and discussing their campaigns with them, understanding what's important to the client is central to being able to do my job effectively. Their feedback invariably means the next time I present to them the analysis will be better.
I also see myself as the attribution ambassador within the building so I give internal training sessions and coach staff on using the technique to ensure that all of our clients can benefit from it.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
KPIs for success vary client by client. Ultimately of course, it's about sales and revenue but the great thing about digital analysis and attribution is that you can dissect the process of interactions that lead to these things.
Some clients will have sign-ups, registrations or information requests. Some will want to look at visits or even at clicks. The key is understanding how all these steps join up to put money on a client's bottom line.
With attribution we are able to properly understand the effect marketing has on each of these.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
We have our own digital marketing measurement and attribution tool here at Havas Media called Artemis, which I use constantly.
DFA Report Central and Google Analytics are two other sources of attribution results, they are not as advanced as Artemis for attribution purposes but can provide interesting comparison numbers.
Tools like Tableau are great for the data visualisation and reporting side of my job.
Hitwise is great for an overall picture of user behaviour online.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
We have a very varied client list, with very different marketing portfolios. This means I can be thinking about completely different things from day to day, which I really enjoy. As far as I'm aware, we're the only agency in the UK to employ an Attribution Manager, which means my role is unique within the industry.
In terms of attribution itself and what I like about it, for me it's all about trying to get to the truth. Despite what a lot of people working in digital agencies would say, just because someone saw a piece of advertising a day before they bought something from you does not mean the advertising had anything to do with the sale.
Using data to try to work out what does is very interesting. Really, I see it as using digital (and sometimes non-digital) data to try to understand how people think about and interact with a brand.
OK, so what sucks? Well, I guess as a market we are all still very tied to only looking at the last thing a user sees before converting in some way. This not only limits our marketing performance but also limits our ability to try new and interesting things and tends to mean digital marketing often comes down to a fight to be the last person to drop a cookie on someone before they convert. We're trying to change that!
How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?
I started out working in analysis across both online and offline media. The granular nature of digital data attracted me to the digital industry because I felt there was so much more that could be done with it.
Ironically, one of my aims this year is to begin including clients offline media data into their attribution models, so a bit of a reversal.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?
It sounds pretty obvious but the first thing is to actually want to work in digital. The Mad Men days are, sadly, over and you will likely find that a lot of your first year or two is spent looking at spreadsheets and doing tasks that may seem, on the surface, fairly monotonous unless you have a genuine interest. That said, you will also learn a lot and very quickly because you'll be asked to get stuck straight into the nuts of bolts of what makes digital tick.
The key is really to have a strong interest in keeping up date with what is a very fast moving industry. If you often find yourself reading articles about the digital industry anyway (like this one), then you're probably ideally suited to work within it.
Which brands do you think are doing digital well?
I love the Guardian website. I think it's laid out brilliantly and the navigation is so clear and simple despite the number of stories being organised.
As my job suggests I'm a big fan of numbers and statistics and I'm also a football fan. So naturally I absolutely love Squawka. The ability, on a single screen, to see any piece of information I could possibly want about any game or any player, all updating live, is fantastic.
I'm also very excited about the LEAP Motion Controller. I haven't had a chance to play with one yet but from the videos I've seen it looks awesome, and so intuitive. It's a great price point too.
If you would like a Day In The Life profile then by all means throw your hat into the ring by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to put your job title in the subject line. PS - I have had plenty of requests from agency folk, so I especially want to hear from brands / client-side people!