Finding Optimal Attribution Models

Google Match, Attribution Models, Optimal Attribution, Customer Match

Attribution models determine which channel gets credit for a conversion or sale. The default model that most use is Last interaction or Last Click, meaning that the last channel that a user touched gets credit for the conversion.

But Last Click isn’t the only model available. There are many others, including Last AdWords Click, Last Non-Direct Click, First Interaction, Linear, Position Based and Time Decay. All of these attribution models provides different data to marketers. Figuring out which attribution model is best for you depends on your business needs and your tracking setup.

Why Selecting the Right Attribution Model is So Important

Finding your optimal attribution model can have impact on how you value different marketing channels, especially brand awareness channels like social media and high-level display advertising.

Marketers must recognize that:
• Users are being influenced via multiple touch points prior to conversion
• Just focusing on Last Click attribution a campaign will limit campaign scalability

Before selecting a model, however, it is helpful to understand how each one works.

Types of Attribution Models

As mentioned, most marketers are familiar with the Last Click model, which gives credit to the last channel someone visited before converting. But there are many other models:

Last Non-Direct Click: If someone came to the site directly and converted, the channel right before this visit gets the credit. For example, if someone interacted with a Facebook page, but then went directly to a site and bought something, social would be the last channel.
First Interaction: The first touchpoint with the brand gets the credit.
Last AdWords Click: All credit would go to the Paid Search channel.
Time Decay: This distributes credit throughout the process, but gives more credit to the touchpoints closest to the conversion or sale.
Linear: All channels within a conversion path receive equal credit for the conversion.
Position Based: The first and last interaction with the brand receive 40% of the credit. The rest of the channels receive 20% of the credit. Basically, more weight is given to the first and last interaction.
Custom Credit: Marketers can also create their own custom attribution model, leveraging one of the other models and layering other factors on top of it.

How to Select the Proper Model

Selecting the right model depends on your goals. For many marketers, they want to see how all of their campaigns are interacting with each other. For example, a social campaign may not be driving conversions, but it may be contributing to them by educating people higher in the funnel. Social marketers may only be interested in first click attribution to show success, but direct marketers may need to know which campaigns are driving the most conversions. Marketers must figure out their goals and what data they really need to be successful before selecting an attribution model.

What to Look Out For

It’s hard to attribute ROI to non-converting channels. They could be contributing to sales, but that can be difficult to demonstrate. Marketers may have to do more justification beyond showing modeling details to keep a marketing channel. Attribution models don’t take into account off-line and external factors like sales, pricing or seasonality. For example, if a major sale is going on, it could drive up sales regardless of channels.

Despite these drawbacks, optimal attribution helps show the effectiveness of every touchpoint, especially in integrated online marketing campaigns.



Photo: Steven Depolo, Flickr