The Different Marketing Attribution Models

By Martech Outlook | Friday, September 27, 2019

Marketing attribution models are enabling marketers to assess the performance of various platforms that are a part of the marketing efforts.

FREMONT, CA: With the emergence of a series of touchpoints that include multiple devices and channels, marketers are finding it a challenge to comprehend customer’s motivation and the factors that influence them the most. Measuring the impact of campaigns was simpler when they were constrained to television, radio, and print. However, with the proliferation of digital platforms, marketers must find answers to track ads on various channels, devices, and mediums to move the customers down the funnel.

Attribution can assist in differentiating between under-performing and high-performing marketing campaigns in case of multi-channel platforms. It involves the assignment of revenue credits to customer touchpoints. It considers all the digital channels such as social media, display, email, referrals, search, and others.

 Single-Touch Models

With 60 percent of the marketers using the single-touch attribution model is the most popular among the marketers. It assigns revenue credit to a single touchpoint in the customer path. The advantage of using a single-touch model is that it’s simpler to understand and implement. That drawback is that it doesn’t consider other touchpoints that may lie within the path to purchase. Such a blind spot can result in marketers spending on a marketing initiative which is less effective than it appeared in the first place. However, for the firms new to attribution, starting with single-touch models can be an essential first step on the way to understanding a general view of the customer’s journey.

First Touch

In the case of the first touch, entire credit is given to the customer’s first point of contact with a particular band. The model can be used to distinguish what channels are bringing new leads. The drawback is that it fails to consider the usefulness of nurturing campaigns and underestimates the value of processes that drive customers closer to a purchase.


Last-touch attribution assigns full credit to the last contact point before conversion. It values the last interaction an individual has with the brand over any preceding step that might have catered to consideration and awareness. The model is suited for marketers who are interested in knowing which touchpoints trigger immediate conversions.

Multi-Touch Models

Multi-touch attribution is especially useful when there is a large volume of data gathered from various sources. The model accurately assigns credit to the entire range of customer interaction. Using multi-touch models, it is also possible to track which channels are over or underperforming among the suites of platforms incorporated by the marketer. Thus, the model offers a better insight which will be crucial to adjust strategies with respect to the marketing budget.


The linear attribution model assigns equal credit to the various touchpoints along the path to conversion. It is especially recommended when a marketer wishes to look at all the channels that are catering to a customer journey. The drawback, in this case, is that the model doesn’t assist in the identification and optimization of high-performing components within a single campaign.


The model assigns proportionally growing credits as the lead moves closer to conversion. It is effective when there is a long sales cycle, and the marketer wishes to know which of the channels are best impacting the business. The major downside is that the model undermines the value of the sources that attracted the leads in the first place.


The U-Shaped attribution model assigns the maximum credit to the first and last touch and distributes the remaining among all touchpoints in between. The model is best suited if the marketer is interested in measuring end-to-end performance. Clearly, the first and last touches are given more value than mid-funnel touches.


W-Shaped attribution model also assigns a high value to the first and last touchpoints. However, it also gives equal value to the touchpoints that coincide with lead creation and divides the remaining value among all the other touchpoints. Primarily, the model assigns the maximum credit to three major areas- lead, visit, and opportunity. The model fares best in processes involving marketing-to-sales handoff.


A custom model allows distributing varying amounts of credit to touchpoints throughout the purchase. The model is best suited for marketers who have tracking numbers for years. It requires a deep understanding of how various campaign formats have performed in the past.

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