What are attribution models in digital marketing?
Attribution models are rules or sets of rules that guide the assignment of credit for sales and conversions to the various touchpoints in your conversion paths. Through the use of attribution modeling, marketers are able to analyze and allocate credit to the marketing touchpoints that occur at particular steps of the customer journey - all the way from searching for a product online to actually making a purchase, and every action that lies in between these points.
The use of attribution models empowers marketers to gain insights regarding which parts of their marketing efforts are actually sending leads flowing to a particular part of the marketing funnel.
You could even make use of multi-touch modeling to allocate credit across multiple touchpoints so that you can get an idea about the way in which marketing interactions affect the entire sales funnel.
These attribution models are frameworks that are used to analyze which touchpoints, or marketing channels, receive credit for a conversion. Every attribution model distributes the value of a conversion across each touchpoint in a different manner. They are used to evaluate the success of different touchpoints a consumer might encounter along their path to purchase.
Why do you need an attribution model?
Attribution modeling makes it possible for marketers to figure out how much credit every marketing channel and customer touchpoint should be given for a specific conversion. This enables marketers to tweak and optimize their programs and tactics, adjusting their sales funnels toward the channels and touchpoints that drive the most value. But, not all attribution models are created equal. Various attribution models have significant differences in the way in which they distribute that credit.
Attribution models give you control over the amount of credit that an ad interaction gets for your conversions. This allows you to identify opportunities to reach and influence your customers early on in the sales cycle. You even get to pick an attribution model that matches the way in which people look for the products that you have to offer. You also get to improve your bids for your ads since you have a better understanding of how your ads perform.
How many attribution models are there?
There are several attribution models available. Here are some of the attribution models that Google Ads offers:
- Last-click attribution: This assigns all the credit for the conversion to the last-clicked ad and the corresponding keyword.
- First-click attribution: This assigns all the credit for the conversion to the first-clicked ad and corresponding keyword.
- Linear attribution: This allocates the credit for the conversion equally across all ad interactions on the conversion path.
- Time decay: This attribution model assigns greater levels of credit to ad interactions that happened at points that are nearer to the conversion. Credit is distributed through the use of a 7-day half-life. Essentially, an ad interaction that happens 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as an ad interaction 1 day before a conversion.
- Position-based: This attribution model assigns 40% of credit to both the first and last ad interactions and corresponding keywords, with the remaining 20% being spread out across the other ad interactions on the path.
- Data-driven: In this attribution model, the distribution of credit for a conversion based on your past data for this conversion action. The biggest difference between the data-driven attribution model and other attribution models is that the data-driven model makes use of your account's data for the purpose of calculating the actual contribution of each interaction across the conversion path.
Attribution models are classified into single-touch and multi-touch attribution models.
Single-touch attribution models
Single-touch attribution models give all the credit for the conversion to a single touchpoint in the customer journey. Here are some examples of single-touch attribution models:
First touch model
This is also known as the first-click attribution model. It assigns all the credit to the first interaction that a prospect has with your business before they convert. Through the use of this model, you can figure out what catches your new customers’ attention at the top of the funnel. If you only assign importance to the touchpoints at the end of the funnel, you might find yourself scaling back on things that happen earlier in the funnel, which may cause in substantial decrease in your sales.
This model is great for businesses that have longer sales cycles and are trying to attract customers who will turn into brand advocates, rather than just get one-time buyers.
Qualified Lead Model
The qualified lead model assigns all the credit for the conversion to the last interaction that your business had with a customer before the conversion took place. It is also known as the last-click attribution model, last-touch attribution model or the last-interaction attribution model. This is the default model on most platforms, even on Google Analytics. It lets you see which marketing touchpoints or campaigns spur your customers to action, thus allowing you to optimize those touchpoints.
Lead creation model
This model places a lot of emphasis on the distinction between prospects and leads. This model 100% of the credit to the point when a prospect becomes a qualifiable lead so you can pinpoint the exact touch point at which a prospect shares their personal information with you.
Last non-direct click attribution
This allocates 100% of the credit to your customers’ last non-direct touchpoint - traffic that’s been guided to your website from another source.
Multi-touch attribution models
Mutli-touch attribution focuses on assigning every touchpoint along the consumer journey with an appropriate amount of value. Here are some examples of multi-touch attribution models:
This attribution model divides the credit equally amongst all of the touchpoints in a conversion path or customer journey.
Time decay attribution
All the touchpoints get some amount of credit, but the most recent touchpoints are assigned a greater amount of credit than the less recent interactions.
This is also known as position-based attribution. 40% of the credit is assigned to the first interaction, 40% to the point where a prospect turns into a lead, and the remaining 20% is spread out across all the other interactions that happened between the first interaction and the sale.
Here, credit is evenly divided across the first-touch milestone, last-touch milestone, and the qualified-lead milestone.
In the Z-shaped attribution model, each of the four most important touchpoints in the consumer journey are assigned 22.5% of the credit, with the remaining 10% of credit split equally between the rest of the touchpoints.