How You Should be Doing Mobile Cross-Platform Attribution, as Told by a Branch Executive

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Mobilethe device that every marketer wants to figure out. How are consumers engaging when they’re using mobile devices, where are they surfing the web, and how exactly can we give them what we want?

Most importantly, we want to know how mobile stacks up to the rest of our targeting strategy, and to make sure no consumer action is slipping through the cracksthat’s where cross-platform attribution comes in.

I sat down with Eric Stein, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Branch, to talk about cross-platform attribution strategies. We talk about why you’re having a tough time with this today, and how you can fix it.

Can you tell me a little bit about your background, and how you became EVP & GM of Branch.io?

Eric Stein“I’ve had a background in ad tech since the early days of DoubleClick. I’ve been involved with internet advertising and with data in order to understand how ads are targeted—both ad tracking and insights for advertisers.

After Doubleclick, I continued my career with Google, Conversant and Epsilon, a marketing services company. I was there for six years before I found Branch, and it was there that I noticed companies struggling with consumer identities and cross channel promotional issues—and how important that was to driving better customer experiences and insights for marketers.

When I met Branch, I was already interested in getting into mobile.

I had been fortunate enough to be at the forefront of a couple of different trends in internet marketing in my past, and mobile was the new important channel for marketers.

So I said yes, and I’m still here today.”

In your words, what is Branch’s purpose?

“We unify the experience on mobile devices for both marketers and consumers. We ensure consumers have the best experience across channels and across platforms.

Let’s look at mobile, for example. When you have an app on your phone, you usually want to go  directly to it. However most marketing communications will lead you to the app’s mobile website. Connecting these two things is challenging. The mobile ecosystem is fragmented with many different standards, but consumers prefer apps and spend most of their time in apps, and they want to get to information seamlessly with as few intermediary steps as possible—we do this for them.

On the marketer side, we help drive engagement for their consumers with the app by providing a single usable link that allows users to travel directly to an app, or any location of that marketer’s choice.

Branch uniquely unifies the experience for marketers by providing insight into the downstream impact of their marketing activities across web and app. Breaking down those silos allows for better decision making and with Branch, they can do just that.

When marketers start to integrate mobile seriously across platforms, they see much better business metrics—conversions are 300% higher than on the mobile web, and people spend 140% more in terms of average order value.”l

Can you explain to the layperson what cross-platform attribution is, and why it’s so difficult to achieve?

“Cross platform attribution is the ability to attribute all events that result from a campaign back to the single campaign, whether or not they occurred on the web or in the app. This is very important to help a marketer gain insight into what’s working and what’s not working, otherwise they’re just guessing. Having events attributed inaccurately is never helpful.

The links marketers have been using for decades don’t work today, because on mobile devices, links have to contend with a lot more fragmentation.

Links have to work across different operating systems, linking standards, browsers, etc.

All these things put a lot more responsibility on the link itself, and aside from apps and operating systems, we’re not just talking about tracking across your standard Chrome or Safari mobile browsers either. For example, apps have their own in-app browsers now that marketers have to contend with, like the browser that displays when you click on a link on your mobile device in Twitter or Facebook.

We have the most robust linking platform to make sure we can deliver the best customer experience and the best tracking, no matter the scenario.”

If you could relay one piece of wisdom to app marketers, what would it be?

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“Advertisers focus a lot of time and effort on ensuring their targeting is robust and effective—they hyper focus on customer segmentation. All of those efforts that they put into a campaign are lost if you don’t have good customer experience after they click.

Marketers needs will be more cross-platform, cross-channel and more cross-device in the future than they have been in the past. My advice would be to invest more in this good customer experience.

Think about this scenario. An airline is running an ad campaign and they want people to install their app. They focus on targeting, segmentation, creatives and a deal on airfare which they think will entice people, and deliver the desired results. A user comes across their campaign, clicks on the offer, downloads the app, which them sends them back to the homepage with no trace of the offer.

It’s not a good experience, and they’re not going to feel engaged with your brand. Taking the user to the exact content they are looking for even after they download the app is hard but getting this customer experience right will be key for marketer success with apps.”

What are your predictions for the future of mobile advertising? Where do you think industry is headed in the next one to five years?

“Mobile advertisers should think working more collaboratively across their organization. We all know intuitively that all marketing activities help to provide lift to other activities. You need the right tool to help you understand the true impact of all marketing activities.

Second, we’ll need to figure out the mobile experience.

One of the things that will change in the coming years are our options on how to solve mobile discovery better.

Finally, the app stores are such a choke point today—how are apps get discovered and more easily engaged with—we’ll see interested developments in this area, and I’m confident Branch will play a role in them.”

You can use your Branch links in your Taboola campaign today and we look forward to continuing our close partnership.