While the average number of marketing touches per online order was around 5 in Q2, the number of channels buyers used was far lower, according to [pdf] a Rimm Kaufman Group (RKG) report released in July 2012 that analyzed data from a subset of its clients. 75% of orders involved just 1 channel, 18% involved 2 channels, and the remaining 7% involved 3 channels or more. Still, the average number of touches per order showed growth in Q2, from about 4.7 to 5.4, suggesting that users return to the same channel multiple times.
First, Last Touch Models Significantly Redistribute Credit
Data from RKG’s “Digital Marketing Report Q2 2012” indicates that when moving from a last-touch to first-touch attribution model, pay-per-click (PPC) gains over 30% in credit – that is, it is more likely to come at the beginning of the touch path. At the same time, affiliate channels lose almost 40% of credit. This underscores the likelihood of affiliate channels appearing at the end of the touch path. Email loses about 2% of credit, suggesting that email users return to email consistently.
By contrast, organic search, comparison shopping engines (CSEs) and social media all gain credit in the first touch model. According to a March 2012 study from Slingshot SEO, last-touch attribution models drastically undervalue the contributions of organic search and non-branded organic search to multiple-interaction conversions, while a separate study released in March by Adobe made the case that last-touch attribution undervalues social media’s role in engaging customers earlier in the buying process.
The RKG study ignored instances in which a user navigated directly to a client’s domain, as well as touches resulting from navigational brand searches via organic or paid search, to ostensibly create a clearer understanding of the true incremental impact of each channel.
Last-Touch Attribution Most Commonly Used
Despite evidence that last-touch attribution models heavily devalue some channels, this is the most commonly used model by marketers and agencies (54%), according to an April 2012 report from Econsultancy and Google Analytics. Agencies are more likely to use a variety of methods, including customized by channel (where certain channels are weighted more or less heavily; 41% vs. 25%), first click (41% vs. 25%), a unique methodology (35% vs. 20%), and linear (where all interactions share evenly in the credit; 29% vs. 10%).
At the same time, last click attribution was seen as the least effective of those various methods, with just 69% finding it either very (14%) or somewhat (55%) effective. By contrast, 92% find linear attribution to be either very (23%) or somewhat (69%) effective, while roughly the same proportion feel that way about the unique methodology they are using.
- According to the RKG report, year-over-year paid search spending grew 29% across all search engines.
- Spending on brand terms increased 24% in Q2, while brand costs per click (CPCs) dropped 6%.
- Google’s share of paid search spend and clicks stood at 84%. A separate report from Marin Software found those figures to be 81% and 80%, respectively.
- RKG found mobile contributing 13% of paid search traffic, consisting of 7% for tablets and 6% for smartphones. iOS held 73% share of mobile paid search clicks.
- As a percentage of total site traffic, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest combined generated 1.1% of visits, led by Facebook (0.9%).
- Mobile held 15.1% share of organic search traffic.
- Among CSEs, Google Product Search took roughly half of all traffic, and more than 60% of orders.
About The Data: The RKG data was derived from a sample of clients that have worked with RKG since the beginning of the most recent financial quarter.