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Attribution Modeling: What It Is, And Why It's Important
Last Updated:  
November 3, 2022

Attribution Modeling: What It Is, And Why It's Important

A lot is made of attribution and rightfully so, but one must remember what attribution really is: a story of the participation of the different touch points along the customer journey. Now, as a marketer it is our job to understand when and what story tells us the truth about what really happened.

This seems like a super daunting task, but today, we're going to simplify things. First, we're going to briefly go over the most common attribution models and what they mean. Then, we'll briefly touch on why you may want to leverage different models for different clients.

Ok let’s jump in.

🏎 First Click Attribution

First Click attribution is going to allocate all the credit of the purchase to the first touch point. So if you consumer had the following journey, Facebook would receive all the credit for the purchase. See the graphic below:

Facebook -> Google -> Purchase Journey
Facebook -> Google -> Purchase Journey

Now, when is First Click attribution useful. Well, a lot of times. Again, this will be contextual to the business and media buying strategy. For example, do you think the first touch point is more important than the last? If that is the case, then this would be the attribution model for you.

A use case for first click attribution is understand how efficacious your TOF efforts are. If they invited the person to the party, they should get the credit :)

🥳 Last Click Attribution

Last Click is going to be the inverse of First click; all the credit will be given to the last touch point. So in the same example above of the user journey of Facebook to Google to Purchase Google would receive the credit.

Again, I find it useful to think of it in terms of “causal” intensity. What do you value more? The person who brought the person to the store? Or the sales person that closed said person?

Last Click is a great way to measure your channel health. However, be careful with it because it can be misleading sometimes.

For example, if customer journey below, the FB ads seem to be doing the majority of the lifting and the Google ad closed.

FB -> FB -> FB -> Google
FB -> FB -> FB -> Google

This isn’t good/bad per se, I just want you to be cognizant of what if that was a branded search ad? Would you really want your branded search taking all the credit for the previous 3 touch points?

Probably, not.

Ok, maybe you aren’t an absolutist and you don’t think one touch point deserves 100% of the credit. I can dig it and this is where attribution models become muy interesante. Fractional attribution, the next model we will explore.

Fractional Attribution

Fractional attribution is will credit every touch point in the user journey and spread credit across all the touch points from first to conversion. However, there a few types of multi-touch attribution models. The one we offer in Triple Whale is Linear, but we can briefly touch on all of them.

Linear

This model gives all the touch points on the customer journey the exact same credit for the purchase. All the touch points are assigned the same weights.

Time Decay

What have you done for me lately ;) This model gives more credit (weight) to touch points that happened closer to the conversion.

U-Shaped

This is kind of like how you remember things. You remember the beginning and the end, but very little in the middle. This model gives the majority of the credit to the first and last touch points, while recognizing the touch points in between.

W-Shaped

Same same, but different as the U-Shaped model. The W-Shaped will give you three milestone touch points, and then credit the in between touch points evenly with the remaining credit.

🐳 Triple Attribution

Triple Attribution gives credit to the last ad the customer clicked through on the particular platform (Facebook, Google, etc) currently being viewed. (This model is sometimes referred to as “Last Platform Click”.) In this model, each marketing channel’s final click-through for the particular customer receives credit for the purchase.

Example: If a customer clicked on Facebook ad #1, then Facebook ad #2, then a TikTok ad, and finally made their purchase, then Facebook ad #2 would receive credit when viewing the Facebook data, AND the TikTok ad would receive credit when viewing the TikTok data. In this model, the final click a user made within each ad platform is deemed the most significant, and credit is assigned thereby.

Triple Attribution + Views

Triple Attribution + Views is a unique attribution model for use with Facebook ad data. Facebook tracks both click-through as well as view-through data.

We cannot independently verify Facebook’s claimed view-through data, since we are only tracking click-through events from your ads. However, what we can do is layer Facebook’s view-through attribution data on top of our Triple Pixel click-through attribution.

This way, you can see the impact of Facebook’s claimed view-through attribution when added to Triple Pixel’s own click-through attribution.

Example: If the Triple Pixel ROAS was 2.35, and Facebook’s view-through attribution claimed an additional 0.5 ROAS, then toggling to the Triple Attribution + Views model will add that additional 0.5 ROAS to our own click-through ROAS.

⏳Closing Thoughts

Attribution Model Comparison
Attribution Model Comparison

There is no right or wrong attribution model. The best attribution model is the one that helps you make the best decisions. I like to think about attribution as a story telling mechanism. What is the story that is closes to the truth?

That is the attribution model you want to use.

With that being said, you might want to compare the attribution models to ensure you are “listening” to most truthful story.

To see the comparison, just drill down into Pixel screen and click on the rubik’s cube. You can now see all the attribution models compared. What a time to be alive :)

About the Author

Rabah Rahil

Live in Austin. Ride a @BoostedBoards. CMO at @TryTripleWhale. Marketing, Tech, Outdoors, Photography, Webdev and Stoicism.

Rabah Rahil

Live in Austin. Ride a @BoostedBoards. CMO at @TryTripleWhale. Marketing, Tech, Outdoors, Photography, Webdev and Stoicism.

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