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Mapping the customer journey: Lessons learned from graph-based online attribution modeling

Eva Anderl, Ingo Becker, Florian von Wangenheim and Jan Hendrik Schumann

International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2016, vol. 33, issue 3, 457-474

Abstract: Advertisers employ various channels to reach customers over the Internet, who often get in touch with multiple channels along their “customer journey.” However, evaluating the degree to which each channel contributes to marketing success and the ways in which channels influence one another remains challenging. Although advanced attribution models have been introduced in academia and practice alike, generalizable insights on channel effectiveness in multichannel settings, and on the interplay of channels, are still lacking. In response, the authors introduce a novel attribution framework reflecting the sequential nature of customer paths as first- and higher-order Markov walks. Applying this framework to four large customer-level data sets from various industries, each entailing at least seven distinct online channels, allows for deriving empirical generalizations and industry-related insights. The results show substantial differences from currently applied heuristics such as last click attribution, confirming and refining previous research on singular data sets. Moreover, the authors identify idiosyncratic channel preferences (carryover) and interaction effects both within and across channel categories (spillover). In this way, the study can help advertisers develop integrated online marketing strategies.

Keywords: Online advertising; Attribution; Marketing models; Markov models; Multichannel (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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