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The Complete Guide to Ad Attribution in 2023

The Complete Guide to Ad Attribution in 2023

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

Ad attribution is the key to understanding the success of marketing campaigns. It’s a data-driven technique that helps us understand which elements of our advertising campaigns are contributing to their success, by giving credit to the various marketing touchpoints along a customer’s journey that leads to a conversion. 

Why Is Ad Attribution Important?

Ad attribution is important because it helps brands see the full picture of their ad campaigns and determine which pieces are driving results. It’s also important to understand which channels and campaigns are driving the greatest return on investment (ROI), so marketers can double down on those efforts. Essentially, it provides valuable insights into how marketing campaigns are performing and helps brands make more informed decisions about their marketing strategies. 

In-Platform Attribution Settings

In-platform marketing attribution is handy for advertisers to understand which campaigns and ads are specifically driving the results within a specific channel. This helps you scale channel-specific efforts. 

Google Ad Attribution

In Google, when setting up a new conversion goal, you’re able to choose the attribution model setting that you want. Depending on the attribution model setting, Google will then give credit to specific keywords, Google ads, and campaigns, depending on what stage they’re in leading up to a conversion. 

Google ad attribution

The different attribution models on Google are: 

  • Last click attribution model: All of the credit is given to the last clicked ad and keyword.
  • First-click attribution model: All of the credit is given to the first touchpoint. This would be the first campaign, keyword, and ad clicked.
  • Linear attribution model: Equal credit is given to all the clicks in an ads account. For example, if someone clicked on three keywords, and lands on three different ads, then Google will give equal credit to those three keywords (and the three ads). 
  • Time decay attribution model: Ad interactions closer to the conversion are given the most credit. Google uses a seven-day “half-life” method, where an ad that’s clicked eight days before a conversion event is given half of the credit as an ad that’s clicked one day before the event.
  • Position-based attribution model: This attribution model gives the most credit (40%) to the first and last clicks before conversion, and divides the rest of the credit equally between any of the in-between clicks. 
  • Data-driven attribution model: This attribution model uses your account’s historical data on the conversion event to determine a useful attribution model for the campaign. It determines how much each interaction contributed to a campaign. 

Facebook Ad Attribution 

Facebook lets you determine the attribution window for each ad set. Based on your preferences, you’ll be able to decide which attribution window makes the most sense for you. 

Facebook Ad attribution

The different marketing attribution models that Facebook offers are:

  • 1-day click: Conversions will be attributed to an ad if the user converts within one day of clicking on the ad
  • 7-day click: Conversions will be attributed to an ad if the user converts within seven days of clicking on the ad
  • 1-day click or 1-day view: Conversions will be attributed to an ad if the user converts within one day of clicking on the ad or within one day of viewing the ad
  • 7-day click or 1-day view (default): Conversions will be attributed to an ad if the user converts within seven day of clicking on the ad or within one day of viewing the ad

Something important to keep in mind is that the Facebook attribution window you select will also be the optimization window. This means that if you have your attribution window set to 7 day click, Facebook will deliver your ad to an audience most likely to convert within the 7 day window. However, if you set the window to one day click, Facebook will narrow the audience to users likely to convert within just one day of clicking on your ad.

How In-Platform Metrics Affect ROI

Although in-platform marketing attribution might seem like the easiest option to rely on, the downside is that there are some major flaws in the accuracy of this data. Since the release of Apple’s user privacy updates included in IOS 14.5, in-platform attribution and reporting has become incredibly inaccurate since Apple device users can easily opt out of having their data tracked. Because of this, it is recommended to use a 3rd party attribution tool such as Triple Whale, to ensure that the data you are relying on to make decisions and scale is accurate.

Multi-Touch Attribution

multi-touch-ad-attribution model

Multi-touch attribution considers all of the marketing touchpoints that contributed to the desired conversion, across different marketing channels. Instead of attributing the conversion solely to the last or first clicked platform, multi-touch attribution gives a more complete and accurate picture of the journey across different marketing channels. 

For example, if a customer clicked on a Facebook ad first, then was retargeted by a Google Display ad, entered their email in an email capture pop-up on your site, and then purchased after clicking on an email sent from your brand, then the multi-touch attribution model takes into account all these different interactions. With the first-click attribution model, the Facebook ad that the customer initially saw would receive 100% of the credit. With the last-click attribution model, the email will get all the credit, and so on. 

Drawbacks to Multi-Touch Attribution Models

One major drawback with multi-touch attribution is that it’s almost impossible to understand exactly what drove the sale. You can land on an attribution model that makes the most sense to your brand (first click vs. last click, for example), but that won’t be one hundred percent representative of how your customers interact with your brand. 

Total Impact Attribution

Due to the iOS 14 update, we wanted a way to circumvent the new challenge of advertisers' inability to track user data without requiring users to opt-in for app tracking.

And mission accomplished!

The Total Impact Attribution model was designed to give a holistic view of the ad journey and determine the impact of each touchpoint along the way. Now, you don't have to fly semi-blind; Total Impact Attribution model takes into account a variety of factors when assigning credit, including surveys, website visits, email clicks and so on.

The Total Impact Attribution model opens the door to more accurate insights so your conversions are tracked and attributed accurately. This gives you a better understanding of the full customer journey as well as helps you to optimize future marketing campaigns more effectively.

Overall, we can summarize the power of the Total Impact Attribution in one equation:

First-party data + Zero-party data + Proprietary algorithm = Total Impact Attribution Model

Learn more about how you can leverage the Total Impact Attribution model today!

Why Should I Use an Ad Attribution Platform Instead of Just Looking at Google Analytics or Facebook Insights?

Using an ad attribution platform, such as Triple Whale, can provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of your online advertising efforts than relying on Google Analytics or Facebook Insights alone. It'll provide detailed analytics that can help you better understand the customer journey and track the effectiveness of specific campaigns, ads, and channels. Additionally, Triple Whale integrates with other marketing platforms, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, allowing you to easily view all of your data in one place. It's the key to gaining deeper insights into your customers' behavior and being able to confidently optimize your campaigns for maximum success.

Measuring Attribution Using Triple Whale

Triple Whale is a reporting and attribution platform that lets you collect accurate attribution data and transform it into growth. Using their Triple Pixel you can gather more accurate information about data from your ads. You can even analyze your data using Triple Whale’s Triple Attribution to get a fuller picture of what really drives your conversions. 

Triple Whale also allows us to see the full customer journey, by allowing us to analyze the number of conversions we have gotten through each ad campaign. It essentially rounds up our marketing efforts and helps us understand the expected consumer behavior and path.

Triple Whale and In-Platform Data

Triple Whale uses third-party tracking to gather data around your campaigns. When you add the Triple Pixel to your website, you can then see in-platform data, as well as Triple Pixel data alongside each other for a more complete and comprehensive view of your conversion data.

Tracking Data With Triple Pixel

Triple attribution model

Triple Attribution 

The Triple Attribution model is a unique approach to assigning credit to advertisement interactions that led to a conversion. The idea is that the final ad interaction on a specific platform is the most impactful, and thus deserving of credit for the conversion. For instance, if a customer clicks on Facebook ad #1, then Facebook ad #2, and finally a Google ad before making a purchase, the credit for the sale would go to the last ad click of each platform. So, in this scenario, Facebook ad #2 would receive credit for the sale when looking at Facebook data, and the Google ad would receive credit when viewing TikTok data.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All

Attribution is a crucial part of a marketing campaign's success. It lets you assign credit to an ad, or platform, for driving a desired goal, and having access to this data is necessary for improving your ads with data driven decision making. There are many different settings you can choose and factors to consider when configuring your attribution settings, and there is no one-size-fits-all attribution model. That being said, the most important factor of your ad attribution is ensuring it is as accurate as possible, so make sure to use tools like Triple Whale to ensure that the data you collect is trustworthy!

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