Ask an Expert: Dan Kurtter, Head of Measurement and Data Strategy

Welcome Attain’s Ask An Expert series! We’ll be talking to experts who are innovating in the marketing and advertising space, starting with our stellar team at Attain. Our second interview is with Dan Kurtter, Head of Measurement and Data Strategy at Attain. Dan has been working in marketing measurement for most of his career, and Attain is lucky to leverage his far-reaching experience to build out our ground-breaking measurement products.

How did you begin working in this industry, and what do you do at Attain? 

I started my career in media measurement about 15 years ago working in media mix models, helping advertisers and marketers understand the return on their media investments has been a passion of mine ever since. I currently lead measurement and data strategy at Attain, with the goal of making us the de facto leader in outcome measurement using privacy-safe data. 

With experience at both big brands and platforms, why did you make the leap to Attain? 

I came to Attain because I saw the value of the privacy-safe, future-proofed purchase data that Attain was collecting and I wanted to be part of the evolution towards a more sustainable, privacy-centered future. Now I’m at the core of shaping Attain’s measurement offering for advertisers, and being able to tackle my own past measurement challenges head-on has been really exciting.  

If you could sum up the marketing measurement landscape in August 2023, what would you say? 

Evolution is the word right now. Marketers are looking for alternative solutions to legacy measurement partners, who historically have been very slow to report results. Historically, marketers lose months and millions of dollars because they aren’t able to take action quickly enough. As a result, they’re looking for robust, consistent and reliable data sources to power their measurement results in a post-ATT and cookieless world.

Additionally, we’re seeing a shift in how advertisers are optimizing campaigns. They’re starting to move away from vanity metrics such as clicks and engagements and towards actual sales. 

In your role, you talk to marketers at brands and agencies daily. What would you say are their biggest challenges when it comes to measurement? 

Even though the writing has been on the wall for years with cookie deprecation looming and a host of new regulations, there’s still a major lack of privacy-safe, deterministic data available to marketers. Marketers have come to expect a certain level of granularity and precision available with the advancements made to digital targeting and measurement for the last decade, and now their options are being rolled back to what they had access to in the early 2000s. 

What are you doing to help solve this? 

At Attain, we have first-party, fully permissioned purchase data, which solves for both cookie loss and privacy regulation. Second, we’re prioritizing measurement methodologies like sales incrementality and attribution, which are the most important metrics for advertisers. That’s because these types of measurement methodologies don’t rely on ad engagement as proxies of success, but instead look at actual sales or revenue driven.

What are you working on right now that most excites you? 

We’re working towards a full-funnel measurement offering in early 2024. Marketers have been asking for this my entire career. The ability to tie upper funnel outcomes to lower funnel outcomes will be a huge value add for advertisers. For example, did an increase in brand awareness or a video completion actually lead to a purchase later on? This will allow brands to start honing efficiency across their awareness campaigns in flight, and finally be able to connect metrics like brand lift to an actual sale in the market. 

What’s been your biggest win over the course of the last year at Attain? 

I’m super excited about our partnership with The Trade Desk. Our missions are closely aligned as they look to defend spend on the open internet with measurement through objective data. Attain purchase data is available via the Trade Desk measurement marketplace and can be used to measure attribution (and soon incrementality) across all of its client’s programmatic tactics. What’s special about it is that we have both transaction-level and product-level data, across all verticals, industries, and purchase channels. This means that we can measure online and offline across many types of brands, and even surface third-party transactions made with companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats. This simplifies workflows for our agency clients, because they can work with Attain across all of their brands, and allows us to measure sales for brands that are often lacking options for real sales attribution.  

What’s your biggest challenge right now? 

The biggest challenge we’re faced with right now is convincing the industry to move beyond the status quo of legacy measurement. We need to shift away from static panels and aggregated data that’s been bought and resold, towards permissioned and first-party data. The digital media industry has moved so quickly but measurement always seems to lag behind. We hope to be part of that change. 

What do you think the landscape will look like a year from now? 

Cookie depreciation is on the horizon, and it looks like it’s actually going to happen this time. And I hope, as a result there will be a push towards data cleanroom measurement and a focus on privacy-first, persistent identity-based measurement solutions.

It’s also clear that the industry wants more from retail media, such as more standardization and less silos. Currently, advertisers can only see how their investments within a specific retailer are performing. In the near future, I imagine advertisers will be demanding a more holistic view of these investments from their retail partners.

How do you think AI will change measurement? 

Real-time outcome measurement is at the cutting edge right now, but I think with AI and its predictive capabilities, we’ll be able to measure outcomes before they even happen. We’re working on a predictive model that feeds audience segments, and the results are very promising. Measurement and performance is an awesome application for AI and creates a better experience for the consumer and advertiser