Data

Attribution Models - what it can do and why it's important

Part 1

Attribution models are central to today's advertising landscape. They are the basis to determine how much recognition each advertising channel receives throughout the customer journey to conversion. Additionally they highlight which traffic sources perform best. This helps analyse the quality of traffic and optimise advertising channels along the conversion journeys.

By understanding how much each marketing channel and touchpoint in the customer's journey contributes to the conversion event, you can make adjustments that lead to increased conversion. Furthermore you can align your campaigns to your customers, calculate the ROI of each channel, and in turn, optimise your marketing spend. Attribution models also provide insights into how your channels and touchpoints interact with each other.

How do attribution models work?

Attribution models are a bottom-up approach. Basically, they can be understood as a reattribution of conversions. Attribution models analyse numerous customer journeys and, based on this, can estimate the effect of individual ads or channels on the entire journey. They measure at a rather small, granular level, such as conversions, the performance of your marketing efforts. Attribution models focus mainly on digital media and there are usually large amounts of data associated with them. Since all data is easily accessible, results can be quickly determined. This enables quick, short-term tactical responses across the channel mix. Crucially, the focus on digital media again means that offline media is usually not considered.

What types of attribution models exist?

Attribution models are generally divided into larger groups and categories. At the most general level, they can be single-touch, where the entire credit for the conversion is assigned to one touchpoint; multi-touch, where the credit is distributed along the customer journey using simple functions; or data drive, where customer data is used to train statistical and machine learning models. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages. Common providers include the likes of Google, Hubspot and Salesforce, among others. 

What is the best attribution model?

Which attribution model is most suitable depends on a business's available resources and marketing channels. Single-touch only makes sense for short buying cycles. However both small and large businesses run ads in a media mix that consists of several different digital channels. This makes the average consumer's path to conversion quite complicated. Customers interact with brands across multiple touchpoints before conversion occurs. Therefore, you should at least opt for a multi-touch model. If you have a long buying cycle and the necessary data available, a customised, data driven attribution model is the best candidate for an attribution model.

When to assess or perhaps change an attribution model 

Attribution models are supposed to help improve marketing strategies. If the adjustment of the marketing strategy in accordance with the attribution model does not result in the expected improvement in a reasonable amount of time, one should try a different or an improved attribution model. This process can take a long time, as each strategy change requires at least a few months to take effect.

Most companies' first point of contact with attribution models is likely to be in the context of Google Analytics. Using the predefined models here is undoubtedly the most convenient use of attribution models. However, since the best attribution model is company-dependent, there may be better options for your business. One option is third-party marketing attribution tools, which, like GA, are generally black-box models that may or may not work well for you. As mentioned earlier, customised, data driven attribution models are the best model of choice, assuming the necessary data is available. However, these models need to be custom developed and coded, but are specific to each organisation and promise the best outcome.

Effective attribution modelling optimise results across all channels

Data based and driven campaigns are the desire of all marketers. However, they first require a reliable data infrastructure. Generally, attribution modelling can enable your team to increase conversion rates and save money that would otherwise be spent on non-converting channels. Simply put, attribution models allow you to get more bang for your buck from your marketing campaigns. While there is no single attribution model that works best for everyone, there are ways to determine which model best fits your business.

If you are interested in a more in-depth look at different attribution models then stay tuned for part 2!