Attribution Modeling Explained

As an advertiser, you have multiple channels to take into consideration. It could be your actual website, a blog much like this one, or an ad through email. A visitor will not just go to one avenue before they make a purchase through your website. Sometimes, they might take a casual stroll from point A to point B. However, the journey probably will not end until they get all the way to point Z before they make a conversion on your website. An advertiser has to take into account the journey from C to Y and give credit to the appropriate channels or touchpoints.

Ok, so what does that all even mean?

The journey for a lead to convert is not as cut and dry as having a consumer going to your business’s website and buying your product. It can at times be an arduous journey as the consumer travels from one place to another. Essentially, customers today will most likely click off your website, look at reviews, check out your social media page, then a few days later, click on a link that was sent to them via your business’s search retargeting ad. As an advertiser, observing the number of touchpoints they went through and finding out where that conversion was made, is indicative of the attribution model design. In this article, it will show you what attribution modeling is, how it is important to you and your business, the most popular ones and how you can utilize it.

attribution model

What is Attribution Modeling?

The attribution model definition is a set of rules that determines how much credit a touchpoint and/or channel receives if it is successful in converting a lead. It is a system that assesses the value that a touchpoint and/or channel contributed upon towards the final sale. The transition of a lead to a sale is sometimes a far cry away from a pay-per-click ad from your company, as many steps can be taken until the sale is made. The information provided by an attribution model allows for analysis of these channels and touchpoints. The analysis shows which ones benefit the business’ marketing campaign. Think about how SEO operates. Just as SEO operates by gaining retention through keyword optimization, attribution models seek which channels retained the most conversions in which to give credit to.

Why Is Attribution Modeling Important?

As an advertiser, marketer, or business owner, you need to know which channels work in your favor. In doing so, you can find out how to optimize your strategy for a higher conversion rate. As stated by, “By understanding which channels are driving the most impact across the different touchpoints of the sales funnel, you can better allocate advertising budget and invest in channels that have a higher conversion rate.” Your goal through utilizing an attribution model, is to get a stronger read on your business’ return on investment for each channel.

attribution modeling definition

What Are the Benefits of an Attribution Model?

What is attribution other than ascribing credit to the work done by a channel or touchpoint to successfully achieve converting a lead? Though search engine marketing is an effective practice, experts say that resources can be better used elsewhere such as channels that have high return on investment. With an attribution model, your efforts in search engine marketing are no longer aimlessly throwing darts in the dark. There are very apparent benefits to the model that requires more successes and less of an accident waiting to happen.

Increased ROI

You are constantly looking for new ways to reach customers. The effort you put into doing this can sometimes be a waste of your time and resources. With attribution modeling, you are able to reach those customers and are able to get your messages across more coherently.

Enhanced Reach 

The opportunities for reaching an audience happen fairly sooner than you would expect. You can potentially have more customers satisfied from points A to B as opposed to eventually getting their attention around point Z.

Improved R&D

Keeping your finger on the pulse of what your target audience is looking for in a product will drive your business’s success. Attribution models connect you more closely with your customers. As such, you are able to make adjustments and improvements based on the channels and touchpoints you are obtaining information from.

Establishes Unity

When you are spending time trying to allocate credit to the appropriate channels, you will eventually start to gain an idea of a channel cohesion. A business is the functionality of all moving parts working together to have the best opportunities for success.

These benefits work in tandem with one another by lowering potential losses. It does so by eliminating the step of you putting any funds into channels that would otherwise yield a low return on investment.

last click attribution

Most Popular Attribution Models

There are several different marketing attribution models. Basically, some give a different amount of credit for a conversion to different places along the customer journey.

First-Touch Attribution

First-touch attribution, or first-click attribution, calculates the return on investment for the first link that a visitor follows through on making a sale. It takes into account what nurtured and gave awareness to the lead. In fact, 100% percent of the credit will go to that link. This is because there were no other succeeding searches on from that point onward. If the link was on Facebook, Instagram, or search engines, then that entity will receive full credit for having been where the conversion happened. If you are a brand that has built up enough trust with its consumer base, you will most likely come across conversions that have yet to go through the sales funnel. In that regard, this attribution does not recognize anyone who has started to funnel through other aspects of the website.

Last-Touch Attribution

Also known as last-click and last interaction attribution, last-touch attribution is similar to first-click. It’s similar because 100% of the credit will go to this model. It is also the standard model that analytics professionals use. Last-click attribution will be the deciding factor for a lead turning into a conversion. Unlike first-touch, if the conversion is made through this model, then all proceeding clicks up until this point within a 60-second window will be considered. It is one of the best ways to gauge end-of-funnel conversions and what drove the decision to convert a lead. Not only that, but its implementation is not as difficult as multi-touch to install. By having a better grasp on which touchpoints sales have been made, you can allocate your resources properly. However, the first-click and all primary information, such as initial impressions of the product, are not collected.

Single Touch Attribution

Single-touch attribution models give 100% of the credit to one marketing touchpoint. Even if a customer saw 20 Google Ads or Facebook Ads before converting, single-touch attribution will determine that only one of those ads deserves conversion credit.

Linear Attribution Model

Linear attribution is a multi-touch attribution model which splits conversion credit equally across each touchpoint or interaction along a customer’s journey.

Multi-Touch Attribution Model

Let’s get into the multi touch attribution definition. Unlike both last-click and first-click attributions, multi-touch attribution (or multi channel attribution) takes into account all marketing channels and every process in between that the customer came in contact with. These models give credit to each channel and touchpoint that the customer interacted with. In doing so, advertisers and marketers can gauge how important each channel and touchpoint is leading up until the conversion.

Think of it as having the bird’s eye view of the customer’s buying journey. Through multi-touch, everything has become visible to the viewer. It has a stronger perspective on which channels are more frugal and worth the investment and which ones are not. This way, you do not overlook any channel. Although, based on the much larger coverage that multi-touch offers, it has the added issue of being more complicated than its single-touch counterparts. The technology to implement is more complex.

what is attribution

How to Get Started With Media Attribution Modeling

If you are ready to begin, its’s time to set up a new Google Analytics account.

SEO Design Chicago, Attribution Modeling, and You!

Now, you know the marketing attribution definition. Digital attribution modeling should be part of your marketing efforts. Finding which channels and touchpoints benefit your business can be rather complex. If you want to have higher conversion rates, you should not have to work hard to find what is best. There are many attributions that you can apply, though you can skip the trial and error that comes. You may even know the field yourself, though you want to commit the time to other places in your business. Those here at SEO Design Chicago have the experts that can give you the results you want.


  • What is attribution modeling?
  • Why are attribution models important?
  • What are the three best attribution models?
  • How are first-touch attribution and last-touch attribution similar?
  • What are the benefits of attribution modeling?

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