The tools are part of Drawbridge’s overall cross-device insights offering, first launched in October. Drawbridge competitor Tapad released its own cross-device analytics suite, Pulse, in August 2014.
Mobile devices have added a level of complexity and urgency to the attribution puzzle that didn’t exist in the pre-smartphone age.
Mobile will account for nearly half of all digital ad spend in 2015, according to figures from eMarketer. If advertisers only looked to the conversion as the main signal for attribution ROI – consumers are still more likely to convert on desktop – they’d be ignoring the role that mobile plays in making the sale.
“We’re looking at the ads that influence the consumer to make a purchase, regardless of what device the ad was shown on and regardless of what device the person converted on,” Bafna said.
Bafna acknowledged that multitouch attribution is still an inexact science. Solving for cross-device doesn’t mean that an entire customer journey, which likely includes nearly impossible to measure factors like word of mouth, has been mapped from start to finish.
“There is no perfect attribution model because every consumer is different,” Bafna said. “All we can do is come up with better attribution models that make more sense given that a consumer is seeing ads across devices.”
Take connected TV. Although users can’t convert through connected TV, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exert some sort of influence on the end result. Drawbridge measures ads served on connected TV, using multitouch to track the impact it had on conversions elsewhere.
But what about the fact that Drawbridge sells media, which some might argue creates an inherent conflict of interest when it comes to attribution.
Bafna says Drawbridge accepts third-party tags if an advertiser decides it would rather use a different reporting partner.
“If reach and targeting are one side of the coin, reporting and attribution is the other [and] providing reporting/attribution is a way of proving that the targeting works,” Bafna said. “We are democratizing cross-device identity, and that requires transparency, starting with reporting.”
Which Drawbridge and other independent players tout as a selling point in the face of deterministic juggernauts like Facebook and Google.
“Advertisers want to run smart, targeted cross-device campaigns and learn from the post-flight analytics,” said Drawbridge CEO and founder Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan when the company launched its original insights product in October. “Even within the Google and Facebook platforms, that capability is limited.”