If you are a part of the digital marketing world then you have definitely heard of Attribution. Whether you fully understand the term and what it achieves is another question. This article will provide you with a basic understanding of Attribution. Allowing you to wrap your head around the concept, the challenges and the benefits of using attribution.

Attribution is the key to all round success in the modern digital world. We achieve attribution by assigning credit to a marketing touchpoint and using this data to gain insight into digital customers. This insight is more important than ever, but extremely difficult to implement. It is viewed as an impossible task for marketing agencies to successfully achieve attribution. This is because of the multi-channel challenge which presents a huge obstacle for digital marketing agencies. It is hard for them to achieve an understanding of their audiences’ path to purchase, which once was a relatively simple objective.


What is Attribution?

“In short, Attribution is the science of determining what media is driving purchase.” The Definitive Guide to Marketing Attribution, Convertro



Attribution is central in digital marketing as it is the best tool to find out what works for an organisation. Attribution aims to find “a single source of truth” for the relative impact of every channel on the customer path.  By evaluating user interactions and touchpoints, we identify how these key events contribute to a positive outcome.

These outcomes and conversions are assigned a value. This allows attribution to be achieved through algorithms. The primary goal of attribution is to enable marketers to effectively spend their budget and optimize revenue by allowing them to fully understand their customer’s purchase process and engagement.

Once you begin to understand what your customers positively respond to, the data collected can be used to develop and enhance future campaigns. Check out this diagram of a modern customer journey. Trying to track each of these elements is really difficult. This is why attribution is so vital.



There are many different ways to approach attribution; multiple models have been developed to assist marketing organisations to efficiently tackle this daunting task. These models are divided into two different categories; rules based and algorithmic attribution models.

  1. Rules Based Attribution Models
    These models are relatively easy to understand, as they are humanly defined and subjective. Rules Based models are based on assumptions that we create and find meaning in. Examples of these are first and last touch models. The issue with these models is they are based on personal perspective and therefore may not be completely accurate and can be biased.
  2. Algorithmic Attribution Models
    These models are much more difficult to understand, they are heavily mathematical and dependent on data. This data driven algorithmic approach is not a quick fix for attribution. They still requires a lot of human interaction even though it is fueled by machines. In order to be successful the data must be extremely rich to form a comprehensive analysis.


What are the challenges of Marketing Attribution?

Marketing attribution is widely perceived as unobtainable. In order to successfully reach an audience, marketers must connect with their customers in a number of ways. This involves using multiple different media platforms. The mobile-centric nature of modern day consumers creates a major barrier between the online and offline world. Old tracking methods that worked in the past are now useless against digital platforms. This causes problems when trying to measure and evaluate exactly how campaigns are being received and how customers are interacting with them.

attribution3Collecting and finding meaning from all of the data of different customer journeys, across multiple platforms and sessions is a massive task that takes a lot of time. The data can be collected by machines but the analysis has to be done by humans so that we can understand the meaning behind the data. All of the main issues associated with marketing attribution are linked together in a vicious cycle.

For attribution, time is needed to; collect the data, analyse the data and try different attribution models to see what works. A lot of man power is needed to analyse the different data collect, this may need to be done in a number of ways and considering a number of different factors. To pay for the time put in by the workforce and fund research into different methods of attribution, money is required.

All of these factors are influenced by the organisations fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge with regard to attribution. As there are no clear concise steps on how to successfully achieve attribution organisations are less willing to pump money and labour into a model or method that may not work for them.


The central objective of marketing attribution is to find the root of what works for audiences. To uncover the most influential touchpoints in our marketing arsenal, basically find what works. For cross channel consumer attribution an abundance of data needs to be collected and analysed which unfortunately takes an enormous amount of time and man power. Marketing attribution requires a lot of attention to detail. As well as clean data collection, accurate modelling all done with a team of skilled analysts.

Why is Attribution important?

Marketing Attribution is imperative simply because it provides insight into modern digital consumers.  The specific goals for using attribution differ to each individual organisation but the most popular benefits of attribution are to;

  • Build an Understanding of the Customer Journey and Sales Cycle

  • Improve the Customer Experience

  • Optimize Marketing Channels (individually and collectively)

  • Reallocate Budgets Effectively to Optimize Digital Spend

Attribution is a key component and extremely effective for marketing optimization. Especially with the nature of todays cross channel consumer. Customer journeys are not a linear process. They happen across many different platforms, devices and during different sessions. Key performance indicators are used to track how new users engage with your site.  Combined with the data analysis, a clear image of your overall impact can be measured. In order to deliver an improved innovative multi-channel experience marketing agencies must fully understand the effectiveness and influence of their campaigns. This can only be achieved through attribution.

Attribution allows organisations to measure and clearly see how different digital channels work together.  They can do this by analysing the data from websites, social media pages, paid search marketing, online digital ads and decoding how they all work together. With this information, organisations can experience so many benefits and spend their budget more effectively.

Attribution lets you see just how important each marketing channel was to the overall customer journey. By fully understanding your customers journey and process you will be able to focus on what is successful across all platforms. Improving customer experience and developing multiple integrated digital platforms will result handsomely in your return on investment.

Attribution Infographic


Our Top 5 Tips for Marketing Attribution


1. Develop a Clear Set of Goals

Planning is the first step when tackling attribution; ask yourself what are the key questions for the business that you want to find the answers to in the data you collect. A clear predefined set of goals from the outset will allow you to shape and mould your attribution model to best suit you. There are many different types of attribution models to choose from and they are strongly linked to the kind of data you want as a result of attribution.

2. Focus on What Works Best for You

There is no concise set of rules for marketing attribution, not everyone will have the same outcome, so it is important to see what is suited to you individually. There is no point in following the exact steps of another organisations attribution model as their objectives do not apply to you and their customers are also different. Finding the right type of attribution model is difficult but an essential part of the process. Attribution allows you to see what your organisations most effective channels are, with this valuable insight, changes and budget adjustments can optimize your essential channels.

3. Commit to the Investment

Marketing Attribution is a big commitment. It takes a lot of time, money and man-power. Everything is not going to come together at once. It is important to be patient. In order to see the results you want, your attribution model needs to be continuously updated and monitored. Investments before, during and after the actual attribution process are essential. The data cannot be simply retrieved and the process complete, it needs to be cleaned, tested on different models and analysed. Having your clear list of objectives will be constructive during this time as you will be able to see if you really achieved what you set out to. It is important to remember there will be a lot of experimentation, trial and error. Attribution is known for being challenging, you must evaluate your data first and understand which channels deliver results aligned with assigned budgets and build on this to try and move closer to your goal. Attribution requires a lot of attention and a lot of work. You must be prepared to change your model consistently to develop an effective campaign that will stimulate innovation and improve customer experience.

4. Devote Time to Understanding Your Customers

The primary function of marketing attribution is to gain insight into our customers. Learning about our customer journeys, actions and conversions may seem like an enormous task but it is crucial. Unify your data and technology to create a holistic view. Customers are not one dimensional beings, it is important to understand that they will engage and interact with different platforms in different ways. These customer interactions are valuable pieces of data that need to be collected, cleansed and stored in a consistent format and used when developing an attribution modelling system. This multi-channel data will help you to understand the complex journeys consumers take on each individual platform. This information is vital in modern digital marketing as it allows you to improve your understanding, optimize your media mix and build on your platforms.

5. Be Flexible and Open to Change

Lastly allow flexibility in your attribution platform, it will need to be nurtured and developed for it to work. Consumer patterns change constantly, whether it is due to the product or season and your attribution model must be prepared to respond to these common changes. It is important be adaptable and flexible, you will have to try different models that align to your business goals. The attribution cycle will be repetitive but the end result will be worth it. As mentioned above all attribution models fall under two main headings; Rules Based Attribution Models and Algorithm Based Attribution models. Experimenting with these different types of models allows you scientifically determine what works the best for you and your data which will allow you to gain the most advantageous results from attribution. It is crucial to incorporate team work and communication across all parties working towards attribution. Having individual teams focusing on concentrated areas will result in an isolated working culture and an unclear picture of all of the data and resources available.

If you have any questions about marketing attribution, or would like to request a free consultation on how you can improve your online business today, feel free contact our expert team at Sing.

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