Why Incrementality Testing Matters

Why Incrementality Testing Matters

As part of our Data-Driven Marketing content series we uncover why Incrementality testing is important, and how to go about getting started. Read more from our Data-Driven Marketing series here.

Incrementality testing is one of the crucial elements of a data-driven marketing strategy, because this type of testing gives brands a true understanding of their marketing campaigns’ impact.

However, it’s important to remember that incrementality testing and attribution are different, ultimately measuring two distinct aspects of marketing performance.


“Attribution assesses the contribution of each marketing touchpoint in driving a specific conversion, while incrementality is the causal impact of a marketing campaign on conversions that wouldn’t have occurred without it.”

Understanding the difference between incrementality and attribution is vital when looking to use both methods within a data-driven strategy. 

“Alongside other measurement initiatives, marketers can obtain a more comprehensive picture of their campaigns’ efficiency and effectiveness. Giving brands the foundation to make informed decisions around budget allocation, media channel choices, campaign optimization, and ultimately, achieve better marketing results.” – Dane Buchanan, Global Director of Data, Analytics & Tech, M&C Saatchi Performance.

Due to the recent (and ongoing) privacy changes we’ve seen across iOS (Apple’s ATT) and the impending changes from Google (both web and mobile), the ability to rely solely on attribution for campaign measurement and optimization has diminished. If incrementality testing hasn’t been a regular occurrence in your media plans up until now, it needs to move up your priority list quickly. By prioritizing incrementality testing, you can adapt to these changes and continue to optimize your marketing efforts effectively.

One of the main, future-proofed versions of incrementality testing is Geo-Lift (or Matched-Market) testing. The beauty of this methodology is that it doesn’t rely on any user-level data; the main requirement is the ability to purchase media at a regional level of granularity (typically state, designated marketing area, or zip code) and, in turn, measure your conversion/outcome data at the same level of granularity. This is a tried-and-tested approach that the traditional media world, particularly TV, has relied on for many years.



  • Decide on the media channel or campaign you want to test.
  • Define your campaign objectives and KPIs.
  • Gather data for your KPI: typically, 3-6 months of historical data, split at your planned regional granularity, is enough to establish a baseline.
  • Test and Control regional selection: You can choose the region(s) for your test, but your data science team will use various algorithms to select your control region(s).
  • Your Test region(s) will be exposed to your media campaign whereas your control region will not.


  • Once you’ve completed all pre-test planning steps, launch your test activity.
  • The test activity typically runs for 4-6 weeks.
  • Your data science team will monitor the campaign, ensuring they gather the right data and that the media campaign is active only in the test region(s).
  • After the activity concludes, allow a 1-2 week listening or cool-off period to accurately capture the tail of your media campaign.


  • Ensure you’ve collected all required data for your campaign KPI.
  • Perform statistical analysis to uncover the incremental impact of your media campaign.
  • Analyze the results and provide actionable recommendations based on the test outcomes.


  • Optimize and refine your media strategy based on the insights gained from the test.
  • Begin planning your next Geo-Lift test to continue improving your marketing impact and ROI.


Implementing a Geo-Lift test may seem like a daunting task, but the potential insights and benefits it provides are well worth the effort. Not only does it offer a robust and privacy-compliant way to measure the true impact of your marketing campaigns, but it also helps inform better decision-making and optimization efforts. By understanding the incremental value of your marketing activities, you can more effectively allocate resources and drive better ROI for your brand.

By embracing geo-lift testing you’ll take your data-driven marketing strategy to the next level and will be making more informed marketing decisions and optimizations in no time.

Contact us to find out how M&C Saatchi Performance delivers Incrementality testing and other Data and Analytics methods to ensure client success.