This research addresses the problem that arises when a customer has been in contact with a number of online advertising channels before purchasing the product, making it difficult for companies and advertisers to determine which of these contacts made the customer decide to buy the product. Until now, this aspect has usually been dealt with using rather crude heuristics, such as by registering the last click before the final transaction. The Fre(E)S research project of the University of Passau, which receives funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is about developing and testing a complex statistical model for science-based analysis of customer journeys. This research has resulted in an innovative attribution model for calculating the actual value added attributable to each online marketing channel, which provides an important decision-making tool for advertisers and agencies when drawing up their budgets.
Eva Anderl and Professor Jan Schumann (both University of Passau), Ingo Becker (TU Munich) and Professor Florian Wangenheim (ETH Zurich) developed the model in close cooperation with intelliAd Media GmbH, a company specialising in multichannel tracking and bid management, and implemented it in the intelliAd Attribution Analyzer. There has been international interest in the research project, which has received a prize from the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, University of Pennsylvania, and numerous invitations to international conferences. Professor Schumann, who holds the Chair of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Passau, believes that this is a good example of science being used to solve business problems, making reference to the fact that the algorithms developed in this joint research project have been implemented in the intelliAd platform. As he put it: "With this project we have successfully bridged the gap between theory and practical application when it comes to preparing advertising budgets, and provided companies with an innovative tool for measuring the efficacy of their marketing efforts."