Attribution Isn’t Everything

Out of Home (billboards) have always done and continue to do an excellent job at generating brand awareness and calls to action. Whether you’ve advertised on billboards for years or are new to the medium, billboards consistently educate and remind your target audience who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.
Year after year, billboards drive traffic to your website and customers to your door. And while any good marketer would want to try and identify what efforts attributed to their success, accurate attribution data is hard to acquire.
Any good business owner or organization would want to try and understand what campaigns and placements drove the most success for their business. This helps drive future decisions, budgets and planning. And while hard attribution can be a wonderful tool, it is not always the easiest to obtain.
Other mediums such as digital marketing are able to capture real-time clicks, views, add to carts, etc. Spreadsheets and spreadsheets of data. This can be helpful information but it does not tell the whole story of what DROVE the consumer to find you online. Was it a billboard they passed by? Or a mailer they received the other day? Getting data from part of the purchase funnel can help drive insight into what is working but you should be aware it is not the full story.
With billboards, advertisers do have the opportunity to place specific promotions or discounts on their ads, or use a dedicated phone number or website landing page. Your business can also ask customers how they learned about you in your contact forms or when speaking to a prospective new customer. These are all ways to attempt to garner some insight into the attribution of your billboard campaign. Many advertisers often hear customers say they “saw their billboard” or “recognize their face” from a placement. These are softer ways of gaining some idea to the awareness your billboard(s) is driving.
But at times, consumer’s memories are short; though it was a billboard that drove them to look you up online, but when asked how they heard about you, they may note “Google”, not the billboard that started it all. Attribution can be flawed.
What truly matters is if consumers are continuing to call, look you up, come in, submit an inquiry. Have your billboard efforts allowed you to continue filling your pipeline of work or whatever your desired call to action is? This all-around sense of success from your advertising efforts combined with the hard and soft attribution data you can gather, should give you the insights you need to continue making great marketing decisions and have successful billboard campaigns.
Moral of the story: do try to gain insights as to the success of your advertising campaigns by tracking attribution to the best of your ability, but do not measure the sole success of the campaign based on attribution alone. There is so much more at play then can be measured. Just because something can’t completely be tracked doesn’t mean it isn’t doing its job, morning, noon and night.