Nearly 60 percent of Marketers Plan to Change their Attribution Model in 2017

Download our 2017 State of Performance Marketing Report

I’m often asked, “What will be the header bidding of 2017?” Now I know my answer to that question. For several years, industry experts have suspected that there would be a fundamental shift in how marketers evaluate digital marketing performance. This would, of course, have a similarly disruptive effect on the performance marketing landscape as header bidding had in 2016. Now after several false alarms, it seems we’re actually crossing the threshold and attribution is at the forefront of marketers’ minds. Attribution, as well as other leading industry topics, are analyzed in this year’s State of Performance Marketing Report, a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. marketers, business owners and executives. The report explores their perspective on the changing dynamics of the advertising and marketing landscape. The annual report gives unprecedented insight into how marketers see the future of digital marketing evolving.

This year’s survey explored top-of-mind topics, including: email marketing, programmatic advertising, retargeting as well as attribution. In 2017, the fourth iteration of this report, we found that attribution has gone from looming in the background, to jumping to the forefront. In the time since our last report, industry professionals have intensified their interest in marketing measurement—specifically, better evaluating their efforts and optimizing their decision process. The 2017 results confirm that almost 75 percent of marketers find attribution critical or very important to marketing success and a whopping almost 60 percent reported that they plan on taking the definitive step of changing their attribution model in 2017.

Additional key findings of report include:

Programmatic Continues to Shine
Marketers have continued to embrace a programmatic approach to digital marketing:

  • Over 50 percent of survey respondents said they are currently investing more than half of their budgets in programmatic initiatives alone — that’s up from 32 percent of respondents in 2015.
  • Additionally, more than two-thirds of marketers state that programmatic results in a greater return on investment than traditional media.
  • To this end, 77 percent of marketers ran programmatic ads on social media in 2016, while 53 percent ran programmatic on mobile and 37 percent did so on video.

Full-Funnel Performance Marketing Holds Value
The full-funnel perspective gives marketers the opportunity to adjust the approach to their campaigns based on where a prospect is in the buying cycle:

  • In 2016, marketers allocated 72 percent of their budget to prospecting for new customers and converting those prospective customers; 16 percent of budget went to activating and upselling existing customers
  • The most successful channels for attracting new customers, according to marketers, were paid social media (54 percent), organic social media (35 percent), programmatic display (32 percent), and paid search (28 percent).

Email Marketing Goes Dynamic
A majority of marketers stated that their email campaigns populate with content specific to a person’s actions taken online:

  • Almost 70 percent of marketers surveyed in this year’s report claimed that their email campaigns are dynamic based on user behavior — expanding their aims beyond traditional batch sends.
  • Loyalty sends are still the most popular (50 percent up 10 percent year-over-year), although lead generation pitches came in second and saw the biggest year-over-year increase (46 percent, up 27 percent year-over-year).
  • However, one thing marketers struggled with in 2016 was integrating their email campaigns with their other marketing efforts, such as messaging, reporting, and KPIs. Almost 30 percent of all those who were surveyed said that they are barely somewhat integrated or have no integration whatsoever.

AdRoll partnered with third-party research company Qualtrics to conduct this survey of 1,000 U.S. marketers. To download the full report, visit: