Last Touch Attribution

I’ve been wrestling with one of the biggest misperceptions I see in marketing metrics and especially how it relates to social media.  The misperception has to do with the directly measurable response as opposed to the indirect value you get when your consumer receives any impression from you.  This is especially the case on the web.  Many web marketers attribute conversions to clicks using click-source URLs.  Unfortunately, just as with multiple touches across multiple media this provides only a partial story.  It totally disregards the value all other touches, both concurrent and prior.  The term Last Touch Attribution defined in previous posts describes how this metric works.

Last Touch Attribution and Social Media

This misperception is going to get worse as more marketers engage in social media tactics, where engagement with the brand takes place online, either on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or elsewhere.  This brand engagement generally leads to positive brand reinforcement, although there can also be negative reinforcement as well.  The issue for marketing metrics professionals is to put a framework together that can start to measure the value of the engagement with the social media site. It’s not just about how many unique visitors come from the social media site.  A more accurate measure of success is the total level of engagement users generate while engaging with the site.  Social media metrics currently include the number of fans, time on site and other behavioral metrics.  But as metrics professionals we need to determine how these metrics can be connected with overall incremental brand engagement and then connect incremental brand engagement with incremental sales.

Facebook Insights

Facebook recently launched a new metrics framework (Facebook Insights) with a new metric called ‘Post Quality’.  The metrics include enhanced demographic and behavioral information and also this new indicator of page engagement.  It is described as:

“Your Post Quality is determined by the percentage of your fans that engage when you post content to your Page. It is calculated on a rolling seven-day basis. The number of stars depends on how your Post Quality compares to similar Pages (for example, Pages that have a similar number of fans),”
(Inside Facebook, Facebook Upgrading “Insights” Metrics Dashboard for Page Managers Tonight, May 5th, 2009).

This is a first step in the right direction, but it will be interesting to see how this correlates (probably with some lag) with brand sales, or unique visits to the brand website.  Over time the question that needs to be answered is whether this metric measures fan engagement with the page and the brand, not just the post.  This metric appears to be a good step in helping marketers improve their posts, drive incremental engagement and then deliver incremental brand engagement and revenue.

If you have any experiences in this area I would love to hear from you.