Your Attribution May Not Be As Reliable As You Think

If you use platforms for advertising purposes you undoubtedly are familiar with the concept of attribution. You are probably also familiar with the frustration of nothing matching, and high discrepancies between platforms. Although we won’t discuss here the nuances of platforms and the way in which they attribute conversions, we want to look into something that may be affecting your attribution, and more importantly, your marketing initiatives not receiving the proper credit they deserve.
If your conversions are coming from users using Apple devices (iOS) , and it takes them more than 7 days from when they are exposed to an ad until they convert, then your platforms are likely not properly assigning credit to your marketing initiatives. This has largely to do with Apple’s ITP.
What is ITP?
Apple launched Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in 2017 to limit website tracking capabilities in Safari. ITP 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 were released in 2019, and they limit client-side monitoring to 24-hours or 7 days, depending on the cookie. To continue proper tracking and for your marketing initiatives to receive the proper credit, a change in the way we track is needed.
Solving for ITP – Server-side tagging
Server-side tagging in a nutshell lets you relocate measurement tag instrumentation from your website or app to a server-side processing container (could come from any cloud provider). One of the many benefits that server-side tagging offers is extending your 1st party cookie lifespan.
How to Know if ITP is Affecting your Attribution
Log into your platform (the one you are using for attribution), and generate a report of all your conversions. From there, look at all of the ones that went unattributed, and classify how many operating systems fall under iOS (app and web). Then, take a look at your attributed conversions, but this time pull a report with all operating systems. Some of these results might surprise you. From there, you can start drawing some conclusions about whether ITP is affecting your channels getting the proper credit.
Server-side Tagging – How to Get Started
Implementing server-side tagging has many moving parts and some important aspects to consider. The ideal scenario would be to work with a partner who can guide you through the process. It can become fairly technical, and you will need the involvement of various departments and their corresponding developers. For now, we wanted to share key details to consider before looking to implement this solution:
  • There are costs involved (you will need a cloud account)
    • Cloud costs are based on usage. If not properly prepared and monitored, you could end up paying more than you had originally intended to.
  • It does not replace your current tag management system (ex: Google Tag Manager)
    • You should already have all your tracking and data layers set up.
  • You will need your developer to implement codes within your website(s)
  • One size does not fit all – customization will likely be required.
    • Testing for trial and error will take place (A/B testing).
Your Attribution May Not Be As Reliable As You Think – Final Words
The objective of this post is to help marketers understand that there are limitations in measurement and some possible ways to solve them. Measurement is only likely to get more limited in the future, and new solutions will need to take place as we adapt to a new and more private web.