What CMO’s Need to Know About Marketing Attribution: Webinar Recap

What CMO’s Need to Know About Marketing Attribution: Webinar Recap

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Let’s say you have an adorable kiddo. Who/what do you think should get credit for your charming child?

  • You and your partner?
  • The singer of the mood music you were listening to on that oh-so-special day?
  • That first date?
  • How about that family member who introduced you and your partner in the first place?

How, exactly, do you attribute which path along the journey gets credit for your child’s existence?

This witty yet poignant analogy was shared in recent webinar that we co-hosted with Dan Golden from Be Found Online titled, “What CMO’s Need to Know About Marketing Attribution.”

This example brought levity to a rather weighty subject. The topic of attribution is not for the easily overwhelmed or those looking for the quick-fix silver bullet.

Attribution is a complex subject in marketing, which is why roughly 38% of companies don’t even have an attribution model in place. But it’s a critical element in determining:

  • The overall success of your advertising and marketing
  • If a specific campaign was successful
  • If a specific tactic successful

Attribution has become much more important in the past 4-5 years – primarily because how we act and engage online has changed.

For example, Google did a study a few years back that looked at the purchase journeys of 3,000 shoppers across a number of verticals.

All 3,000 of them took different paths to purchase.

The reality is that today’s consumers use a myriad of marketing devices and channels in their path to purchase funnel, which has increased the complexity for marketers to figure out what methods are working and how they interact with each other.

Their path looks more like a pile of spaghetti than it does a loaf of bread. It’s complex with many different endings and beginnings that sometimes take place over a long period of time.

So how can marketers figure out which of their channels gets the proper credit for a sale? Here are three strategies we shared in our webinar:

  1. Determining what kind of attribution is most important and relevant to your business.

  2. Be clear about what you’re trying to measure. For example:
    1. Online to Offline (MCA – O2S): In this model the goal is to understand which digital marketing channels contributed to a particular offline conversion.
    2. Multi-Channel Attribution (MCA- AMS): Understanding attribution across multiple screens and advertising channels (TV, Print, Digital)
    3. Multi-Channel Attribution (AMS – ADC): Understanding attribution across digital channels and touchpoints (Search, Display, Social, Mobile)
    4. Post Conversion Attribution: Measuring phone calls and post-lead downstream sales through CRM integration.

  3. Understanding the different types of attribution models, which include:
    • First Click – Weighs more heavily on a customer’s first touch. May be a good model for companies who are focused on growth and introducing new people to their brand.
    • Last Click – While controversial, a high-percentage of advertisers use this model. This model became prevalent in the last ten years as advertisers became more wary of the First Click attribution model, cookie stuffing and affiliates using toolbars. It’s controversial because companies have tried to design business models that are all Last Click- oriented because that was what the company was valuing, but it’s not well-suited for every channel.
    • Linear – Strives to ensure that every channel gets credit. May be a more diplomatic model, but not always the best for business as a whole.
    • Time Decay – Fairly good model for being agnostic across channels, but also good for rewarding the channels that are driving activity right before a conversion occurs.
    • U Shape – Gives more weight to the introducer and the closer channels, but also gives weight to the channels in the middle.
    • Content Bounty (affiliate) – Gives more weight to content affiliates.
    • Add-to-Cart (affiliate) – Wayfair was one of the first companies to apply this model to their affiliate channel. This model gives all or most weight to the channel that a user engages with right before they add the product to their shopping cart.

There’s no right answer for any of these models. The takeaway is that there is a lot that needs to go in to deciding which attribution model is right for your business. Advertisers are using attribution models for the following reasons:


All marketing channels benefit from attribution. But how do you determine which model is right for you?

Google Analytics is a great place to start playing around and comparing attribution models. For example, you could compare what Last Click looks like versus First Click versus Time Decay, etc. This is a good way to compare different attribution models to see which channels are benefiting without having to change your whole process and reporting methods.

Common Pitfalls

While Google Analytics is a great place to start, keep these common pitfalls in mind when figuring out which attribution model is right for your company:

  • Double Counting – Internal and external channels often all have their own sales tracking. It’s common for each one to take ownership of contributed X amount to sales. But when each of their stated contributions are added up, they don’t correlate with the revenue that was actually generated.For example, SEO says they contributed $1 million, affiliate says they’ve contributed $1 million, PPC says $1 million, display says $1 million, and social media says $1 million. But the actual revenue that was generated is $2 million – not $5 million. So 1+1+1+1+1 = 2, not 5.

  • Channel Overlap. In the example below, you can see that all the channels tend to integrate and support one another. So a common pitfall is giving too much weight to one channel and disregarding all the other channels that played a part in the conversion.


To learn more about attribution within your affiliate marketing program and how to avoid some of these comon attribution pitfalls, download our guide to Marketing Attribution in a Multi-Touch World.