Disruptive Marketing Blog

What is Marketing Attribution?

Marketing is important if you want to make your product or service visible. This ultimately leads to conversions. That’s the end goal of any marketing campaign or channel. If you’re a client, you would want to know the impact that the marketing touch-points have on conversions. On the other hand, if you’re the marketer you need to communicate how each channel is important to conversions. This allows you to determine whether you’re using the marketing budget to the best of your ability.

Marketing attribution helps you get to the bottom of all this. It assigns credit to the different touch-points in the customer’s conversion journey. Through attribution, marketers are able to come up with rules that determine what each touch-point contributes to the customer journey. Therefore, attribution marketing is aimed at helping people optimize their marketing strategies.

Simple Models of Attribution

Some companies or businesses have marketing to sales processes that are very simple and straightforward. They don’t go through many channels or campaigns for conversions. This type of marketing attribution is easy to come up with. The most common attribution models cater to these types of businesses.

First touch and last touch attribution models are simplistic. They’re also some of the most commonly used models. They assign credit to the first and the last touch-point respectively. Ideally, this means that they assign all of the credit to just one channel or campaign. This isn’t realistic especially in cases where there’s more than one touch-point. These simplistic models of attribution make one major assumption: that only one touch-point is important in the customer journey.

Complex Models of Attribution

The simple models of attribution, as we’ve seen, have one major flaw in the assumption. As a marketer, you cannot rule out any channel or campaign based on your intuition alone. It might work in the short run but it will end up costing you early in the long run. Without optimizing your marketing strategies, you’re definitely wasting money.  The solution is to use the complex models of attribution. These are also known as multi-touch attribution models. They assign credit to various marketing touch-points but in varying percentages.

Attribution marketing today focuses on these types of models. This is because the marketing process has become more complex over the years. They are important when it comes to:

·         Accommodating for all touch-points

·         Identifying which touch-point contributes more or less to conversion

·         Reallocating your budget according to this information

Some of the simpler models in this category are the position-based models which include the U-shaped and W-shaped models. The more complex multi-touch attribution models are the data-driven ones. These data-driven models use machine learning. You need a good number of conversions for the model to work. The machine collects data on all the touch-points in the customer journey and then assigns weights. The process continues so that the machine reassigns weights to capture the current situation and help in marketing optimization in real time.

Evolution of Attribution

Marketing attribution has come a long way: from simple first and last touch models which are largely biased to data-driven models which are accurate and scientific. Apart from the evolving nature of marketing, the need for actionable results has also influenced the changes in attribution modeling. In time we can be sure that with the increased complexity of the marketing process, the complexity of the attribution models will also increase. For example, the use of mobile search has become more significant over the past few years. Before that it was not included in most attribution models or assigned any credit.


Attribution marketing is one of the most popular things for marketers right now. With the right attribution models, you can produce actionable results from your campaigns and marketing channels. With that you can tweak the budget and therefore optimize your marketing process.