Marketing Attribution Modeling Simplified: Key Models & Tools

Nicholas Samuel • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

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Brand Marketing is the key to the growth of any business. However, marketing should only be done on channels where the possibility of acquiring customers is high. Most businesses have turned to Digital Marketing due to its ability to reach a wider audience. Enterprises can market their products or services on various digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. The fact is that most businesses today employ a Multi-Channel approach rather than relying on one Marketing Channel to advertise their offerings.

Although this is a great approach to reach a wider audience, it presents businesses with a number of challenges especially when it comes to analyzing the Marketing Return on Investment (ROI). It is always good for a marketer to know which Marketing Channel or Campaign led to a particular action such as a conversion or a subscription. Such information can help the marketer know where marketing efforts have to be focussed and where improvements are necessary. This process is known as Marketing Attribution. 

This article will help you understand what Marketing Attribution is along with various Marketing Attribution Models.

Table of Contents

What is Marketing Attribution?

Attribution Model - Marketing Attribution
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Marketing Attribution is the analytical process of determining the tactics that are contributing to Sales and Conversions. It involves evaluating the marketing touchpoints that a consumer encountered on his way to making a purchase. In most cases, a customer’s experience covers multiple site interactions and it’s good to know everything that drove their conversion. 

Marketing Attribution can be complicated when dealing with multiple Marketing Channels. Marketing Attribution helps perform the required analysis on all channels to determine marketing on which leads to conversions. There are different Models that marketers use to get this information. An Attribution Model is a set of rules used to assign credit for conversions to the touchpoints in a customer’s journey. These models give marketers insights on how, where, and when a customer interacts with a brand. It also helps marketers customize their Marketing Campaigns to meet the specific needs of consumers and improve Marketing ROI. 

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Benefits of Marketing Attribution

  • Improve Product Development: Marketers can understand the customer requirements with Person-level attribution. You can obtain all these insights while making updates to the product to target the functionality consumers need.
  • Optimized Creative: Using Attribution models you can evaluate the creative elements of a campaign. Marketers can understand the messaging and visual elements.
  • Increased ROI: Marketers can reach the appropriate consumers with effective attribution. This leads to increased conversions and higher marketing ROI.
  • Improved Personalization: The messaging and channels preferred by individual consumers can be identified by marketers using the attribution data.

Types of Marketing Attribution Models

The two types of Marketing Attribution Models are as follows:

1) Single-Touch Attribution Models

Single-Touch Attribution Models include the following:

A) First-Touch Attribution

This type of Attribution assumes that the customer decided to convert after the first advert that they encountered. Due to this, it gives all credit to the first point of contact between the customer and the Marketing Channels, regardless of the interactions that happened subsequently. 

B) Last-Touch Attribution

In this type of Model, 100% of the conversion credit is given to the last Advertising Channel that the user interacted with, regardless of the number of interactions the user had made with the brand prior to conversion.

One of the most significant disadvantages of the Single-Touch Attribution Model is that they fail to consider the broader customer journey. This means that marketers cannot entirely depend on any of the Single Touch Attribution Models.

2) Multi-Touch Attribution Models

These types of Models consider all touchpoints that consumers engaged with before making a purchase. This information about the touchpoints can then be used to understand which Marketing Channels are performing well and which aren’t; allowing marketers to invest resources and plan future strategies accordingly. Hence, they are considered to be much more accurate than the Single-Touch Attribution Model.

Depending on the Multi-Touch Attribution Model used, a different weight can be assigned to the effect of a touchpoint on a Marketing Channel that the consumer interacted with. For example, some consider the time at which the consumer interacted with a touchpoint prior to conversion as an important attribute, while others consider all touchpoints as equal. 

These Models are differentiated by how they divide credit between the touchpoints on the path to making a purchase. They include the following:

A) Linear

Linear Attribution Model factors in every touchpoint that the consumer engaged with prior to taking the desired action. Due to this, credit for the conversion is divided evenly across all the Marketing Channels that the user came across in his path to conversion. 

B) U-Shaped

Unlike the Linear Attribution Model, the U-Shaped Attribution Model considers the fact that some touchpoints are more impactful than others on the path to purchase. The first and the lead conversion touch are each credited 40% of the responsibility for the conversion. The remaining 20% of the credit is divided equally among the touchpoints between the first and the lead conversion touch. 

C) Time Decay

This model also treats each touch along the path to purchase differently. More weight is assigned to the touchpoints engaged closer to the conversion than those engaged early on. It assumes that the later engagements had a greater impact on the conversions than the former ones. 

D) W-Shaped

This model relies on a similar idea as the U-Shaped Attribution Model, but it adds one more core touchpoint, an Opportunity Stage. The touchpoints credited with the first touch, creation of opportunity, and lead conversion get 30% of the credit each. The remaining 10% is divided among the other engagements.

How to Measure Marketing Attribution?

Different models are used to measure the Marketing attribution. These Models weigh various aspects of the campaign and determine the most effective advertisements. Currently many models are available and a lot of them have clear challenges such as combining offline and online data. Selecting the right model is paramount to accurately measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns to allocate budget or determine the next steps.

Common Mistakes and Challenges in Marketing Attribution

Marketing Attribution offers many benefits but there are a lot of common mistakes that can result in misattribution, obscuring the success of campaigns for marketers.

Here are the common mistakes and challenges in Marketing Attribution:

  • Correlation-Based Bias– Sometimes Attribution models are prone to correlation-based biases while analyzing the customer journey. This portrays like one event is the cause of another, when it may not have. 
  • In-Market Bias- The consumers who might have purchased the product with or without seeing the advertisement. But that advertisement gets that attribution for converting this user.
  • Cheap Inventory Bias- This does not give an accurate view of how media is performing. This makes the lower-cost media perform better due to the natural conversion rate for the targeted consumers, though the ads may not have played a role.
  • Digital Signal Bias- This occurs mostly when attribution models do not contribute to the relationship between online activity and offline sales. Optimization must be made between offline and online sales by marketers.

How to get started with Marketing Attribution?

At a crucial stage when consumers are now exploring new channels and companies level up using advanced marketing technologies, attribution becomes really important. Marketing Attribution is needed to stabilize your marketing organization to generate revenue. There are a lot of successful Marketing Attribution models, it is essential to customize your approach to your business need. This can be done when you integrate your data with your CRM and tech stack.

Choosing the Right Attribution Model for your Enterprise

Here are some of the factors to consider while choosing your right model:

  1. Be clear about the Sales Cycle type that you are going to use.
  2. Know about the time required to run it.
  3. Be sure about the online and offline split.
  4. Consider the number of marketing efforts focused on offline methods like broadcast, print, and television.

If your organization values all these mediums, then you need to choose an Attribution Model that will correlate and normalize online and offline efforts to bring up the best insights. You can combine different models to get a wholesome understanding of the marketing impact.

How to map offline Marketing Attribution methods?

These are the steps to sync your online and offline sales and track your attribution:

  1. Your Users watch or click on your Facebook Ads that you posted.
  2. The same users then purchases your product in an offline setting
  3. LeadsBridge is an application that automatically bridges your CRM/POS/Inventory with Facebook.
  4. Facebook will then match your purchase data with advertising data.
  5. Facebook will finally report all influenced offline sales to your dashboards

Best Marketing Attribution Tools

To get the most reliable insights, marketers should combine different Marketing Attribution Models and correlate the data from each model to know the right optimizations to make for the ad campaigns. This requires a powerful analytics platform. A marketer who chooses the right platform to provide insights from both online and offline Marketing Optimizations will gain a competitive advantage. Some of the factors that marketers should consider when choosing a Marketing Attribution Tool include:

  • Accuracy
  • Speed
  • Connection of branding and performance
  • Cross-channel marketing insights

The top Marketing Attribution Tools available are as follows:

1) Dreamdata

Attribution Model - Dreamdata Logo
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Dreamdata is an Attribution and revenue analytics platform that is capable of gathering, joining, and cleaning data to present transparent and actionable insights.

Dreamdata Pricing

Dreamdata offers 2 pricing tiers which are as follows:

Business Tier: Suitable for businesses having up to 25,000 active visitors on their website. This tier would cost a business $999 per month. The features of the Business Tier are as follows:

Attribution Model - Dreamdata Business Pricing
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Enterprise Tier: Suitable for large-scale enterprises that have a high number of active users on their platforms. This tier does not follow a transparent pricing model and the price can be finalized after a discussion with the Dreamdata team. The features of the Enterprise Tier is as follows:

Attribution Model - Dreamdata Enterprise Pricing
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More information on Dreamdata can be found here and Dreamdata pricing can be found here.

2) Adobe Analytics

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Adobe Analytics follows a basic principle i.e. data can come from anywhere, insights come from Adobe Analytics. Adobe Analytics allows you to analyze data from anywhere in the customer journey. It offers various features such as Web Analytics, Marketing Analytics, Attribution, and Predictive Analytics.

Adobe Analytics Pricing

Adobe Analytics offers 3 tiers i.e. Select, Prime, and Ultimate. It does not follow a transparent pricing model for any tier and the final price depends on your business and data requirements. An in-depth analysis of the tiers offered by Adobe Analytics is as follows:

Attribution Model - Adobe Analytics Pricing
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More information on Adobe Analytics can be found here and Adobe Analytics pricing can be found here.

3) Adjust

Attribution Model - Adjust Logo
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Adjust offers Attribution tracking along with various other functionalities to perform Analytics, automate Marketing Campaigns, ensure Fraud Prevention, etc.

Adjust Pricing

Adjust offers 3 pricing tiers i.e. Basic, Business, and a Custom Tier. The final price for each tier depends on the requirements and can be finalized after a discussion with the Adjust team. An in-depth comparison of the three tiers offered is as follows:

Attribution Model - Adjust Pricing
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More information on Adjust can be found here and Adjust pricing can be found here.

Custom Marketing Attribution Models

Custom attribution models are a leveled-up marketing strategy. The custom marketing attribution model makes the marketer who is in charge to be solely responsible for crediting the given touchpoints based on their goals. And also they have to choose the analytics that is really important to them. Being the most difficult strategy, this custom attribution model yields some exciting results for your attribution tracking requirement.

Limitations of Marketing Attribution

The following are the challenges that organizations encounter in Marketing Attribution:

  • Attributed ROI is not the true ROI. Attribution divides up the credit for conversion amongst the touchpoints that precede it. However, that’s not how marketing in the real world works like. So, Attribution is based on a distorted view of reality and it does not represent the true ROI of the Marketing Channel or the Campaign. 
  • Attribution does not account for the offline to online effects that lead to conversions. 
  • Attribution does not consider the impact of external factors on conversions and sales. Examples of such factors include promotions, pricing, economy, seasonality, etc. 


This article provided you with a simplified understanding of what Marketing Attribution is, its limitations, and types of Attribution Models along with various Attribution Tools.

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