Measurement Explained Through Basketball

June 12, 2024

Measurement explained by Mike Thomas through a Golden State Warriors basketball analogy 

TL;DR: Last touch attribution ignores direct causation of factors that contribute to successful conversion. MMM offers a more complete understanding of all contributing touchpoints including ones not attributed by last touch. One easy way to describe this is through an analogy of the Golden State Warriors where we compare basketball to marketing. Effective measurement requires the unification of MMM, experiments and last touch to derive the purest source of truth within your marketing campaigns.

Many performance marketers gravitate towards last touch attribution as a reliable method of measurement. Increased confidence in last touch stems from the security in its output. Last touch provides a definite numeric value that gives marketers a sense of security or comfort in properly allocating budget and ad spend. However, the numeric value of last touch has been proven to be incorrect. Psychologically speaking, one can see why some choose last touch as their measurement method because our human nature seeks reliability in a world where we use constant judgment biases to make key decisions. However, marketers need to realize that last touch is flawed. The output generated by last touch is an assumption that is NOT based on mathematical or scientific reasoning. Last touch fails to correctly credit all channels that led to an effective marketing campaign. It ignores more obscure secondary channels that contribute to successful conversions. It also ignores that a channel can have effects on organics.

Let’s consider a basketball analogy to illustrate the fallacies of last touch. Imagine you are the manager of the Golden State Warriors. There is an upcoming game versus the Sacramento Kings. The starting lineup consists of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney with a reserve of seven additional bench players. 

After an intense game, the Warriors end up beating the Sacramento Kings, 110-107 in a close head-to-head game. Stephen Curry hits the game-winning 3-pointer that seals a solid victory for GSW. After the completion of the game, the stat line for the Warriors starting five appears as follows:

  • Steph Curry: 45 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block
  • Klay Thompson: 22 points, 4 assists, 11 rebounds, 0 steals, 2 blocks
  • Andrew Wiggins: 25 points, 7 assist, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 0 blocks
  • Draymond Green: 5 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block
  • Jonathan Kuminga: 0 points, 7 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks

How MMP 2.0 Drives The Mobile Business

Only accounting for baskets is an impractical and flawed way of keeping track of performance in basketball. Last touch would only credit the player who scores a basket, ignoring other crucial actions by other players such as assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks. Last touch measurement would only credit Steph Curry (gold trophy with star) for the made basket in the diagram above. Players like Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Johnathan Kuminga would not receive any credit despite them making valuable contributions that led to the basket. The last touch approach fails to capture all touchpoints (the steal, then the pass, then the drive, then another pass) that led up to Curry shooting the scored basket.  The overall impact of each player on the game is simply ignored to arrive at a convenient but over-simplified and flawed conclusion.

In contrast to last touch, MMM (Media Mixed Modeling) would credit the entire team for not only the made basket by Steph Curry but the win over Sacramento. Players like Jonathan Kuminga who didn’t score any baskets but contributed significantly with 7 assists, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks would receive appropriate credit. MMM is comprehensive in accurately factoring the true contributions and performance of each player, even those who didn’t score points.

Just like basketball, marketing success relies on collective contributions. Marketing effectiveness requires a comprehensive measurement approach that delivers incrementality through a causal learning agenda. This is exactly what MMM is designed to do. MetricWorks has a far superior proprietary version of MMM that is also the only daily cohorted MMM on the market. This means that you can make decisions on a daily basis rather than having to wait for another month or quarter to make a decision. MetricWorks also offers higher accuracy via triangulation that combines the strengths of MMM, experiments and last touch to deliver one trusted source of truth. Change the trajectory of your marketing campaigns today and leave the competition in the dust! It all starts with you scheduling a demo with MetricWorks:

Got questions for MetricWorks? We have answers.

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