What is Attribution modeling? | #MarketingBiz with Johan Walters


MarketingBiz-on-BizRadioSouth African brands are using a wider mix of digital marketing channels than ever before, and in more sophisticated ways. For that reason, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers to use attribution models that will give them the insights and information they need to allocate budget to different channels based on real performance.

Attribution modelling is the science and art of determining how to assign credit for conversions and other desired customer actions to the various marketing channels and touchpoints that make up your conversion paths.

In the past, marketers relied on simple models, such as last-click attribution, to decide which channel gets the credit for a conversion. In this model, we would simply assume that the last click – be it from a PPC Search or Display ad – from the customer was the one that resulted in the conversion.   

But now, we operate in a far more complex, fragmented environment where consumers might interact with a far wider range of marketing channels on their customer journey.  Against this backdrop, simple attribution models are inadequate for understanding how exactly we pushed the customer down the funnel from awareness to interest to preference to conversion.  

For example, a customer may have first become aware of a brand’s offering through a display ad. The customer may have searched for the product and encountered a PPC search ad, and visited the Web site. Weeks later the customer may have once again searched and then come to the site via another PPC search ad to make a purchase.

Using a last-click model, a marketer might have decided that spending money on anything besides PPC ads is a waste. But the truth is that it was both channels that set the customer on a journey to conversion, and both should be given credit for it, even if the weighting given to each is different.

That is why smart marketers are moving towards full funnel attribution that allow them to better track how different channels have influenced the customer’s journey. In such models we can get a better sense of how different channels have worked together to produce the end result.

So we could see, for example, that 30% of our PPC Search conversions were impacted by Display advertising. With the right data visualisation tools in place, we can have this information presented in a graph that is intuitive to understand and which helps to make the right choices about allocating marketing spending. 

Today’s technology allows us to track this information in near real-time, yet it also enable’s one to track user interactions weeks in the past. That means marketers can get a great view of the context of their conversions that they can use to tweak spend allocation for the best effects.

To get going with a more sophisticated allocation model, companies should put a robust and integrated ad-serving platform in place that allows them to tag users on and track data from all of their major digital channels. They should also invest in Web analytics and data visualisation tools that will help them mine the information they have for real insight into attribution of conversions.

Shifting to a sophisticated attribution model that stretches over multiple channels may involve a learning curve and an investment in technology. But the benefits it can produce in optimisation of spending will more than justify the effort.


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