Data—in all forms—have deeply affected how many organizations market their products and services online.
To succeed under data’s umbrella, marketers should first understand the key difference between analytics and attribution.
From Think with Google:
Analytics help you understand your customers’ experience. Attribution informs your marketing mix. For [organizations] with multiple digital—and offline—marketing channels as well as cross-device campaigns and purchase paths, it’s not about choosing one capability over the other; it’s about both working together.
Measurement conversion group Convertro defines attribution as “the science of determining what media [platforms] are driving purchases.”
How attribution fits with marketing strategies
Tracking, touchpoints, consumer influence—what do they all mean, and how will they affect a brand’s success?
“For brands operating in a highly competitive marketplace, attribution is more crucial than ever to reconcile the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts, and invest properly for optimal returns,” says Connexity’s executive vice president of marketing services, Bob Michaelian. “[We] track using a 30-day cookie, [and] many others keep it simple with the last-click model, which gives attribution to the final touchpoint. Some brands are also using first-click [models], which give full credit to the initial touchpoint.”
For some digital marketers, figuring out your most successful platforms can be a puzzle. How can you accurately determine which channels are driving consumers to make purchases? How do you know which systems are improving your results?
In a recent report called, “The savvy marketer’s guide to attribution: where does search fit?” Michaelian adds:
Traditional tools provide visibility into the very top of the sales funnel (views, clicks, opens) and the bottom (sales, registrations, leads). Yet marketing teams still struggle with the middle of the funnel, where customer research and brand influence occurs. This confusion around the “messy middle” is particularly troublesome, considering that this is where 100 percent of opportunity often gets whittled down to 2 percent conversion.
Convertro says that if a paid product or service isn’t directly involved, “conversion events” (such as a signup or website registration) can be used in place of a sale. Marketers can assign credit for that conversion in the same way.
“In proper attribution modeling, that credit is assigned proportionally to each touchpoint according to its influence on the customer’s purchase or conversion decision,” a Convertro white paper states.
Nailing an approach that works
Properly assigning credit for sales and other consumer actions can be challenging—as well as a mouthful. It can also be approached in various ways depending on an organization’s product or goals.
Despite your current strategy, consider how these approaches might better fit your digital marketing needs, from Connexity:
Linear model
Linear attribution is preferable if your organization is on a longer sales cycle.
Also called “disturbed” or “flat” modeling, a linear approach gives an equal share of the conversion credit to all channels or touchpoints along the way to consumer conversion.
“The linear attribution model is particularly suitable for B2B activities where the different channels maintain steady contact and brand awareness throughout the cycle,” Michaelian says.
Position-based model
First-click or last-click—who gives a click?
Digital marketers looking for a combination of first-click and last-click approaches should consider adopting this method.
Michaelian says:
Instead of giving all the credit to either the first or last interaction, you can split the credit between them. One common scenario is to assign 40 percent to [both] the first interaction and last interaction, and assign 20 percent credit to the interactions in the middle.
This method is best for brand managers who want to track which touchpoints introduced customers to their brand, as well as which touchpoints ultimately resulted in sales.
Time decay model
Promotional marketers or brand managers tracking deadline-driven campaigns will find this method most useful.
From Michaelian:
This model is based on the concept of exponential decay—meaning that it more heavily credits the touchpoints that occurred nearest to the time of conversion. It has a default half-life of seven days, meaning that a touchpoint occurring seven days prior to a conversion will receive half the credit of a touchpoint that occurs on the day of conversion. If you run one-day or two-day promotion campaigns, you may wish to give even more credit to interactions made during the day of the promotion.
Evaluate your current attribution model. If it isn’t in line with your sales cycle or increasing your return on investment, it might be time to execute a new plan.


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