The Various Types of Marketing Attribution Models and Their Operation

Martech Outlook | Friday, October 29, 2021

With more than six touchpoints today, compared to just two nearly two decades ago, the average consumer uses more than twice as many touchpoints before buying. Marketers must therefore map the consumer journey and determine which channels are worthwhile. Marketing attribution can help here.

FREMONT, CA:  Marketing Attribution is the art and science of determining which channels, touchpoints, or campaigns influence a customer's purchase or desired action.

This can be accomplished through the use of attribution models. Attribution modeling is a framework for determining the value or credit to various marketing efforts, ranging from in-app advertising to social media and email campaigns.

To measure digital customer journeys, relevant platforms implement pixels and conversion tracking (such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel). Establishing a standardized UTM tagging and tracking system is critical to place a premium on clean, comprehensive data.

Attribution marketing can assist marketers in painting a complete picture of how customers interact with their brand across several channels and touchpoints. By assigning a conversion value to each, marketers can determine where to focus their efforts and invest their budget most effectively.

Attribution in marketing can be challenging and never 100 percent correct due to the lack of a precise model for assigning value. It is, however, vital if marketers want to optimize their marketing mix, improve their decision-making, and increase their return on investment.

Below is an overview of some of the most widely used single- and multi-source marketing attribution models, covering how they function and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

First-touch attribution model: The first-touch attribution model, also called the first-click attribution model or the first interaction attribution model, is a type of single-source attribution. All credit or value is awarded to the first channel or message a consumer engages or interacts with in this model. For instance, if the buyer who converted first interacted with their business via organic search or a direct marketing effort, that channel or campaign would receive 100 percent credit.

This is a valuable model for marketers primarily concerned with lead generation, as it enables them to determine which actions are most effective at establishing a brand connection. However, this technique prioritizes a single channel over all others.

Last-touch attribution model: The last-touch attribution model alternatively referred to as the last-click attribution model or the last interaction attribution model is also a type of single-touch attribution. All credit or value is assigned to the final touchpoint before the final sale in this model. This is the preferred option for the majority of marketers and Google Analytics' default.

For instance, if a customer's last touchpoint was a Facebook retargeting ad, that campaign would receive 100 percent credit, and the remaining channels would receive nothing.

The last-touch attribution model is ideal if the buying cycle is short with few touchpoints and conversion. However, similar to the first-touch attribution paradigm, it devalues all subsequent encounters, giving sole credit to the last channel.

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