Beyond Last Click: Choosing the Right Marketing Attribution Model for Your Content

|Nir Elharar

Choosing the Right Marketing Attribution ModelAttribution. Debatably the most important type of reporting for marketers to get right, and still one of the most difficult decisions to agree on. Choosing the suitable attribution model for your business can dramatically change the credit you’re giving each channel, and in turn the investment in media budget and resources you’re willing to dedicate.

The abundance of possible digital touch points a customer can experience along their journey to purchase seems to grow everyday. From a blog post, to a product review, to a social media account to a video or eBook, these assets and the ways one can find them are incredibly diverse. Even a path like the below that seems linear, and easy to follow, is rarely the actual customer journey.

Customer journey touch points in attribution model

So how can we determine the best model for your business? Before I answer that question, let’s have a quick overview of the leading attribution models being used today.

Attribution Models Explained

First Click Model – A first click attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the channel that brought the user into one of your assets — website, landing page, ebook, etc.

The bottom line:

  • It’s easy to implement but doesn’t take into account everything that happened after the first click —blog posts that this user read, social media interactions, paid, and organic clicks, etc.

Last Click model – This is the most commonly used model, giving 100% of the credit to the last touchpoint before the conversion takes place.

The bottom line:

  • It’s the easiest to implement but doesn’t take into account previous touchpoints that could have impacted the sale.


Linear Attribution Model – Each touchpoint in the conversion path receives equal credit for the purchase.

The bottom line:

  • It’s more complex and requires advanced campaign setup, but it captures all customer touchpoints and shows the full digital picture of all the interactions that eventually resulted a sale.


Position Based Model –  In this model all touchpoints get credit BUT The first touch and the last touch receive more credit than the interactions that happen in between.

The bottom line:

  • Again, more complex and requires advanced campaign setup and analysis, but it captures all touch points and helps to better understand the impact of each touch on the sale.


Our Experience with Attribution

When we analyzed our customers’ behavior last year we saw that the average journey among our top spenders was 5.1 touch points before signing up. More than a dozen customers touched 11 times before signing up, and one customer touched 82 times! So clearly, a last click attribution model is not the right model for our business.

Moving from a last click model to a position based model enabled us to see the value of many of our blog posts and video campaigns across the different channels like Outbrain, Youtube, and Facebook. By giving credit to the source that brought the first visit to one of our assets we were able to see the value we were missing in the last click model. This allowed us to confidently increase the investments in the channels that generated these quality first visits. This shifting in budget allocation eventually resulted in more conversions at a lower cost-per-acquisition (CPA).

The Best Attribution Model

So, what is the best attribution model for your business? It all depends on YOUR data!

For companies with a long sale cycle who run across multiple marketing channels (paid, organic, social ,email, etc.) a position based / linear model is likely the best choice. For companies with a super short sales cycle, a one-touch model could be sufficient. Attribution models are data heavy, complex, and not easy to change as they involve many different stakeholders in the organization — from the acquisition team to marketing technology team, to developers, and even business intelligence.

But, it’s absolutely worth putting in the work. By choosing the most suitable attribution model you’re setting the way you look at ROI and the way you make decisions. I invite you to challenge your current attribution model — the results may surprise you!

Start your campaign now!

Nir Elharar

Nir Elharar

Nir is heading the online Customer Acquisition for Outbrain. He was previously the Head of Media Department at GO Internet... Read more

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  • Ween24| March 16, 2017 at 5:05AM

    nice one..


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