Visual IQ Speaks TrueAttribution: Q&A With Manu Mathew, CEO and Cofounder


With an increasingly fragmented media landscape (both digital and non-), partnering media-mix modeling and attribution would seem quite advantageous for marketers – hence why it’s at the center of version 2.0 of Visual IQ’s TrueAttribution technology, which powers the IQ Envoy product suite. Visual IQ Cofounder and CEO Manu Mathew took some time to explain how media-mix modeling and attribution work together, and why publishers should be interested in advances in attribution.

Why should publishers care about attribution issues? How do better multi-touch attribution systems help publisher revenue efforts?

Every time a client of ours has used our attribution products, they have learned of publishers whose contribution to their overall marketing success has been undervalued by their organization using their traditional means of measuring success. So attribution has not only saved many a publisher from being dropped from an advertiser’s marketing mix, but helped to significantly increase investment in placements on their properties.


Conversely, when this happens, there are publishers who are discovered to be over-valued based on traditional measurement – whose investment may be cut. It all depends on the advertiser, the products being marketed and the audience that is drawn to that publisher. What we’ve found is that it ultimately comes out in the wash. A publisher that’s over-valued for one client will be under-valued by another client.


What should be most important to everyone in the process – marketer, publisher and attribution provider alike – is that the measurement is objective, scientifically based and accurate. This way marketers are able to make the most informed decisions possible and make even greater investments in the publishers who are performing best for them.

What are the biggest factors driving the adoption of multi-touch attribution services?

Companies are using more channels than ever to market their products – and frankly, marketers’ own behaviors as consumers are causing them to realize that no channel or campaign operates in a vacuum. A TV ad causes you to go online to research a product. A search online results in a visit to a brick and mortar store. An email campaign results in a visit to a website.


And so as consumers who engage in these types of behaviors themselves, marketers are realizing that their marketing efforts are having these effects as well. And they realize that giving credit for their marketing success to just one touch in a multi-touch process is a flawed methodology for measuring success. At the same time, the tools that are available in the marketplace are starting to mature, so adoption rates are really starting to escalate.

What are the coolest new features in TrueAttribution 2.0? What differentiates the product from the competition?

Well it should be noted that TrueAttribution 2.0 is a technology process – not a product per se. It’s the underlying intelligence behind Visual IQ’s IQ Envoy product – which is the attribution management component of our IQ Intelligence Suite of products. But what TrueAttribution allows marketers to do is to measure the impact of channels for which they have user-level (cookie) data – such as search, display and website visits, as well as the impact of channels for which they do not have user-level data – like TV, radio, print, and out-of-home – when they instead have summary-level data.


The TrueAttribution modeling process analyzes those different types of data – through a single software product – to scientifically calculate the impact of every channel, campaign and marketing tactic on each other – and then recalculates a client’s critical success metrics to take those cross-channel, cross-campaign and cross-tactic impact into account. How this technology differs from the competition is that this is packaged within a single, hosted software product – not offered as a combination of software and media mix modeling consulting engagement, or requiring two separate processes to handle the separate online and offline channel performance.

What can be achieved when media-mix modeling and attribution management work in tandem?

Marketing enlightenment! When all the components that comprise an organization’s marketing ecosystem are scientifically evaluated for their impact on each other – and in turn on the organization’s overall marketing success – amazing insights are typically revealed. Certain tactics that were previously thought of as top-performing all of a sudden look less so. New life is breathed into some tactics that were literally on the chopping block. Affinities between and within channels, campaigns and tactics are identified and quantified in a way that clearly points to actions that can be taken to improve marketing performance.


But unless the entire marketing ecosystems – meaning channels for which an organization has cookie-level data and those for which they do not – is looked at through a process that combines MMM and attribution, the insights that can be gained are less than 100% accurate.

TrueAttribution 2.0 analyzes and weighs a variety of attributes – from your research, what ad aspects are gaining importance?

Frankly, it really depends on the product and business model. For example, for shorter consideration timeframe products, “recency” of marketing touch can be a surprisingly impactful attribute, as can the “offer” to which the consumer was exposed. In the case of longer sales cycles, “publisher” and “frequency” can be more impactful. But it really depends on the product and the mix of touches to which the consumer is exposed. No two clients are alike.

What are typical brand performance KPIs, and how have you seen them employed successfully?

If the question is pertaining to “brand” performance KPIs – as opposed to “direct-response” performance KPIs – these are typically associated with “conversion-related” proxies, such as direct navigations to the website, branded keyword traffic and others. Via surveying, a baseline is established for brand metrics such as awareness, preference, consideration, purchase intent, net promoter score, etc., and is then associated with the level of these proxy metrics are at the time the survey was taken. Once attribution is performed and the tactics are identified that drive these proxy metrics, a larger investment in these tactics can be made to drive increases in the brand metrics. We’ve successfully done this with a number of CPG companies.


Up to date on the latest happenings in the automated trading space? OPS Markets will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss and develop best practices for operational excellence in the evolving automated landscape. Register today for OPS Markets, which will be held April 18, 2012, in New York.