MMA and Big Marketers Launch Think Tank to Solve Metrics Woes

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The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has assembled a think tank backed by more than 20 major marketers to fix what may be marketing's biggest problem: figuring out what really drives media success or failure.

Credit: Mobile Marketing Association

The MMA Marketing Attribution Think Tank (MATT) will "rethink the world of marketing measurement and attribution," according to the group. It's backed by executives from Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola Co., J.P. Morgan Chase, American Express, Mastercard, Bank of America, Samsung, T-Mobile, Hilton, Choice Hotels and 1-800-Flowers, among others. The group planned to introduce the initiative during its SM2 Innovation Conference in New York on Tuesday.

The first initiative of MATT focuses on "multi-touch attribution" (MTA)which seeks to sort through the many factors that contribute to purchase decisions rather than simply attributing them to the last thing consumers did or saw before buying something.

Over the past six months, the MMA has conducted a comprehensive look into the providers and market dynamics in MTA in partnership with the Marketing Science Institute and Joel Rubinson, former Advertising Research Foundation chief research officer and now president of Rubinson Partners.

The review found many brands don't use MTA because of difficulty evaluating offerings from vendors, giving the approach a negative 35 Net Promoter score that reflects a lack of confidence.

In a breakfast outlining the initiative Tuesday morning, MMA CEO Greg Stuart said the Net Promoter score for Motel 6 was a relatively good minus 10, well ahead of the score for MTA firms. "So you'd really rather stay at Motel 6 than deal with multi-touch attribution?" he said, jokingly.

"Rather than living in a world where the last touch gets all the attribution, we as marketers need to understand what the combination does," said Sanjay Gupta, exec VP-marketing, innovation and corporate relations of Allstate, one of the backers of the project. Many companies have pursued solutions on their own, he said. "But I think having the MMA bring multiple companies together to find the optimal way is extremely helpful."

The project brings together numerous competitors, some of whom have traditionally felt they have a proprietary edge in analytics, to find industry solutions.

"The truth is we can all benefit from better tool sets," Mr. Gupta said. "It still doesn't make it equal from a marketing standpoint, because what works for me may not work for my competitor. So we will try to build edges, but I don't think too many marketers believe the tool set itself will give them an edge."

The effort is unlikely to quickly produce a single silver bullet to slay all the industry's analytics woes, Mr. Gupta said. "It's a complex problem, not one where six months later there will be an 'Aha!' moment. But it's much needed."