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Study shows social media impact undervalued

Marketers significantly underestimate the value of social traffic, according to the second Adobe Digital Index report released recently.

The study evaluated how marketers measure the impact of website traffic from major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, YouTube and Yelp.  It also analyzed more than 1.7 billion visits to more than 225 US companies’ websites in the retail, travel and media industries.

“As an industry, digital marketers have been quick to add social media to the marketing mix, but have perhaps not considered new and better ways to measure this complex channel," said Aseem Chandra, vice president, product and industry marketing, Digital Marketing Business, Adobe.

One of the study's key findings is that the use of last-click attribution, the most common attribution model used by marketers, may cause marketers to undervalue social media’s website impact by up to 94 percent. It proposes that first-click attribution models more accurately capture the benefits of social media in engaging customers earlier in the buying process.

Last-click attribution assumes that the marketing channel most responsible for a consumer’s behavior is the channel the consumer last touched before a visit or purchase, while first-click attribution places responsibility on the channel the consumer first touched.

Adobe said social media creates an environment in which brands can build awareness and engage with prospective and existing customers early in the purchase process. By ignoring the value of these earlier interactions, last-click attribution gives disproportionate credit to the marketing channels customers use late in the purchase process, potentially undervaluing the role of other channels in building awareness, engagement, and ongoing relationships between customers and brands.

In contrast, first-click attribution gives social media more credit for these earlier interactions. The difference between last-click and first-click is significant and has the potential to change the way companies allocate social media budgets.

"This study shows that marketers tend to default to traditional direct measurement models. Better measurement of social marketing will lead to better ROI,” said Chandra.

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