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This Is Attribution

Oct 8, 2019

Straight shooter Kevin Seaman shares his story of how he took a TV-centric organization and moved it into the digital space using cross-channel multi-touch attribution. Tune in to find out what it takes to get attribution adopted, the challenges you may face and what you could expect to learn along the way.


Guest bio:

Kevin Seaman has made a career out of measurable marketing, spending the last 20 years maximizing outcomes for national consumer and B2B marketers including Scotts Miracle Grow, Valvoline, and Goodyear.


Kevin had his attribution conversion in 2013 while at Southern New-Hampshire University (SNHU), realizing that transforming from a TV-centric advertiser was going to require a new way to measure and optimize. In his five years there, SNHU turned into a digital marketing powerhouse and tripled in size, becoming the largest non-profit online University in the U.S. Currently, as the Founder of Results Analytics, Kevin provides analytics, performance marketing, and strategy expertise to help companies maximize outcomes and make analytics part of their DNA.


Key takeaways:

[1:48] I introduce today’s guest, Kevin, and ask him about how he came to be where he is today — from agency-side direct marketing to client-side at SNHU.

[5:03] Kevin tells the story of when he came to SNHU, how they were structured, and the work he did to help pioneer the online studies.

[6:54] SNHU was looking to build a brand and drive growth in the online space on a national scale but was spending exclusively on TV. In order to convince decision-makers to fund a more diversified marketing mix, Kevin had to prove that digital was working, so he ran tons and tons of pilots in the digital space.

[10:05] Kevin touches on the view through measurement which he calls the “blimp measurement”; he explains how the blimp metaphor highlights the shortcomings and unreliability of this data point. It led to him doing large scale placebo testing to help identify a Goldilocks solution.

[13:10] Kevin shares the story of his 2014 New Year’s resolution and the apology he delivered to his marketing team before asking them to fund digital multi-channel, multi-touch attribution!

[14:34] Kevin speaks to his achievements throughout the attribution journey he led with SNHU. When you look at any technology, the hardest aspect is to get people to drink the Kool-Aid, so Kevin was constantly gathering proof.

[16:04] He shares the challenges he faced and gives his tips on getting the people in an organization to adopt a new technology and to move budget line items.

[20:20] Organizational challenges are often the thing holding us back from going all-in with a new solution. Does Kevin see a way to circumvent those challenges?

[22:52] Considering that attribution is one of the largest line items in an organization’s P&L, should there be a Chief Attribution Officer? Kevin weighs in with his thoughts on accountability within an organization.

[25:44] Kevin shares some measurement lessons he drew from his experience at SNHU: get the house plumbing in order, connect your front-end and your back-end, and make sure you’re optimizing for the right behaviors.

[31:23] Creative is a BIG contributor; don’t be just a math person, watch your soft skills and watch your language (opt for the good/better/best rather than the good/bad).

[36:34] Jeff highlights the truth in what Kevin is saying: in an organization, math will not sell attribution, you need a different set of skills for that. Kevin shares the example of Google in that sense.

[40:37] Kevin and Jeff discuss the importance of partnered relationships in the operationalization of attribution as well as how to recognize those relationships. Kevin opens up about a professional soul-crushing insight with one of his vendor relationships.

[43:30] Kevin shares his thoughts on the future of attribution, he touches on the non-measurable sides of attribution, the possible fragmentation of attribution and the impacts of growing privacy concerns and vendor relationships.

[48:07] Kevin shares one thing that he knows that no one else knows: the people part of attribution is much more difficult than the math. I thank him for coming on the podcast and sharing so much of his experience.


Be sure to tune in for the next episode and thanks for listening!


Connect with our guest:

Kevin Seaman on LinkedIn


Mentioned in this episode:

Southern New-Hampshire University


About your host:

Jeff Greenfield is the Co-Founder and Chief Attribution Officer of C3 Metrics. As the chief architect of the platform, Greenfield worked directly with the former CEO and Chairmen of Nielsen to solve advertising’s Attribution problem.


Greenfield’s history of technology and marketing initiatives have served blue-chip clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly-Clark, Sony BMG, Black & Decker, Forest Labs, Plum Creek, and more.


Prior to co-founding C3 Metrics, Greenfield was a recognized thought leader in the area of Branded Content as publisher of Branded Entertainment Monthly, a joint effort with VNU Media, detailing industry statistics, gaps, and trends. He’s been a featured speaker at NAPTE, The Next Big Idea, and a news source in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, CBS, CNET, and Investor’s Business Daily. Greenfield studied Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, holds dual degrees from Southern California University of Health Sciences and is an instrument-rated pilot.


Jeff Greenfield at C3 metrics

Jeff Greenfield on LinkedIn

Jeff Greenfield on Twitter