What is Multi-Touch Attribution?

by | Jun 14, 2019 | Guides

Here’s a classic advertising conundrum: a user sees an advertiser’s pre-roll ad but doesn’t interact. Later, that user clicks a display ad from the same advertiser and buys what they are selling.

Would that user have clicked the display ad if they hadn’t seen the pre-roll ad earlier?

Multi-touch attribution technology gives advertisers the answer to this question. It provides a complete picture of their customer’s journey to conversion.

What Is Multi-Touch Attribution?

Most advertisers are used to dealing with last-touch attribution, which tells them which ad the user interacted with last before converting.

Setting the Right KPI Expert Guide Subhead: Educate

Multi-touch attribution shows how each channel influences users. Say you have a campaign that includes paid search, display and pre-roll:

Setting the Right KPI Expert Guide Subhead: Educate

For every user that converts, you’ll see which ads they saw, the order in which they saw them, how many times they saw them and which ad ultimately drove the conversion.

Think about the difference between last-touch and multi-touch attribution as impressionist paintings. Last-touch attribution is where you look too closely and only see the dots of color. Multi-touch attribution allows you to take a step back and see how each dot interacts with the others to create a larger picture.

How Does Multi-Touch Attribution Work?

Multi-touch attribution companies use AI to produce attribution models for each customer journey. These models divvy up the credit for conversion among each channel.

An example:

Your most recent campaign’s ROI is $10,000. The multi-touch attribution model will figure out how much of that money came directly from a specific channel, like display.

It will look at performance across the campaign and take into account the supporting role display played.

Maybe display is lagging behind other channels for actual conversions, but it turns out to be very effective at sticking in users’ minds and kicking off customer journeys.

By taking all this into account, the model determines that $3,000 of the $10,000 earned can be attributed to display’s ability to get customers interested.

If you spent $500 on display, that’s a great return you may not have fully understood if you only looked at display conversions (i.e. last-touch attribution).

How Do You Use Multi-Touch Attribution?

Multi-touch attribution is best for adapting campaigns as they develop. With a sharp eye and a little know-how, you can determine which channels are working, which aren’t and where to spend your money.

An example:

We recently ran a campaign that included many different channels. Overall, the campaign was performing well. The campaign hit its goals and there were no major hiccups.

As we watched the campaign develop, we found that two display campaigns were doing nothing. None of the conversions involved them at all, so they weren’t contributing to the user journey in any way.

Once we proved we couldn’t attribute these display campaigns to any conversions,  we got rid of them. We then shifted the money funding those display campaigns to other channels that we could attribute to conversions, making an already successful campaign even more so.

Who Should Use It

Anyone running cross-channel campaigns will benefit from multi-touch attribution. Without it, you’re really only viewing a fraction of campaign performance.

Unfortunately, it’s out of reach for most thanks to large upfront costs and the technical skillset it requires. Think seven figures.

The best way around these issues is to partner with a vendor that can provide access at a discounted rate alongside service from experts who know multi-touch attribution inside and out.

If you’d like to learn more, subscribe or get in touch. We make multi-touch attribution accessible for just about anyone.

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