Reviewed by digital marketing experts

Definition of Attribution Modeling

Attribution modeling is a digital marketing strategy that evaluates and assigns credit to different marketing channels and touchpoints contributing to a conversion or desired outcome. It helps marketers understand the customer journey and optimize their campaigns by identifying which channels have the greatest impact. By analyzing these touchpoints, marketers can allocate their budgets more effectively and make informed decisions about their marketing efforts.


The phonetics for “Attribution Modeling” are:æt-rə-bju-shən ˈmɒdəl-ɪŋ

Key Takeaways

  1. Attribution modeling helps marketers understand and assign credit to various marketing channels and touchpoints that influenced a customer’s decision to convert, making it essential for optimizing marketing strategies.
  2. There are several attribution models, each with their own strengths and limitations, including First-Click, Last-Click, Linear, Time-Decay, and Position-Based. Choosing the right model is crucial for accurate analysis.
  3. Using multiple attribution models enables the identification of patterns and trends, leading to more informed decision-making and effective resource allocation across various channels to improve the overall marketing ROI.

Importance of Attribution Modeling

Attribution Modeling is a crucial aspect of digital marketing, as it enables marketers to effectively allocate credit to various marketing channels and touchpoints throughout a customer’s buying journey.

By understanding the contribution of each channel in driving conversions, marketers can optimize their strategies, budgets, and efforts to maximize ROI and enhance overall campaign performance.

This data-driven approach not only ensures the most efficient use of marketing resources but also helps in improving the consumer’s experience by delivering relevant content at the right time through the most appropriate channels.

Ultimately, Attribution Modeling assists in making informed decisions on marketing investments, leading to increased sales, customer retention, and long-term growth.


Attribution Modeling serves as a strategic tool in the realm of digital marketing, allowing marketers to decipher the true value of various marketing channels and tactics employed in their campaigns. The primary purpose of Attribution Modeling is to allocate credit or value across multiple touchpoints that contribute to a desired outcome such as a conversion or sale.

By understanding the impact of different marketing channels on a customer’s journey, marketers can make informed decisions about budget allocation and channel optimization, greatly enhancing their return on investment (ROI) and ensuring efficiency in their marketing efforts. In an increasingly complex digital ecosystem, customers are likely to interact with various marketing touchpoints before completing a transaction.

Attribution Modeling provides insights on the effectiveness of each channel, such as social media, paid search, display advertising, or email marketing, in driving the consumer towards the desired goal. This valuable information empowers marketers to optimize their marketing strategies and identify areas that require improvement or additional investment.

Ultimately, Attribution Modeling allows businesses to streamline their marketing campaigns, nurturing leads in a well-orchestrated manner and promoting successful customer journeys that boost overall business performance.

Examples of Attribution Modeling

First Click Attribution Model (Google AdWords Campaign): Assume a company has launched an online advertising campaign on Google AdWords to promote their new range of smartphones. A potential customer first clicks on the Google ad, learns more about the product on the company’s website, but does not make a purchase. A week later, they see a sponsored post on Facebook, click on it and eventually purchase the smartphone. In the first click attribution model, Google AdWords would receive 100% of the credit for the conversion, as it was the first interaction that brought the customer to the website.

Linear Attribution Model (Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign): A clothing retailer has an ongoing multi-channel marketing campaign, including email marketing, display advertising, and social media efforts. A customer initially learns about the brand through a display ad, later signs up for the email newsletter, and finally engages with the brand on Instagram before making a purchase. In the linear attribution model, each of these three touchpoints (display ad, email, and social media) would receive equal credit for the conversion, recognizing their collective impact on the customer’s purchase decision.

Time Decay Attribution Model (E-commerce Website): An e-commerce platform has multiple touchpoints for a customer throughout their browsing and purchasing journey like display advertisements, website referrals, affiliate partnerships, and email campaigns. A shopper clicks a display banner ad but does not make a purchase. A couple of days later, they click an affiliate partner link and browse the website for a while. After 3 hours, they receive a promotional email, click on it and finally make a purchase. In the time decay attribution model, more credit is given to the touchpoints closest to the conversion. Therefore, the email campaign will receive the most significant credit, followed by the affiliate partner link and finally, the display banner ad, acknowledging the diminishing influence of each touchpoint on the customer’s decision to purchase as time goes by.

Attribution Modeling FAQ

What is attribution modeling?

Attribution modeling is a method used in marketing analytics to assign credit to various touchpoints in a customer’s journey. This helps marketers understand the relationship between different marketing channels and their influence on conversions, allowing them to optimize their marketing efforts and budgets efficiently.

Why is attribution modeling important?

Attribution modeling is essential because it provides insights into which marketing channels and campaigns are driving conversions and revenue. This allows marketers to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and focus efforts, leading to improved return on investment (ROI) and overall marketing efficiency.

What are the different types of attribution models?

There are several types of attribution models, including:
1. First-click or first-touch attribution: This model assigns 100% of the credit to the first channel that the customer engaged with before converting.
2. Last-click or last-touch attribution: This model assigns 100% of the credit to the last channel the customer engaged with before converting.
3. Linear attribution: This model distributes the credit equally among all touchpoints in the customer journey.
4. Time-decay attribution: This model assigns more credit to the touchpoints closest to the conversion event, with the amount of credit decreasing as the touchpoint gets further away.
5. Position-based or U-shaped attribution: This model assigns more credit to the first and last touchpoints, with the remaining credit distributed equally among the intermediary touchpoints.
6. Data-driven or algorithmic attribution: This model uses machine-learning algorithms to analyze historical data and assign credit based on the actual impact of each touchpoint on conversions.

How to choose the right attribution model for your business?

Choosing the right attribution model depends on your business goals, marketing strategy, and available data. It’s essential to thoroughly evaluate the attributes of different models, consider your specific marketing objectives, and analyze historical data to identify patterns and trends. Conducting experiments with different models and continually refining your approach based on the results is often the best approach to find the most suitable attribution model for your business.

Can I use multiple attribution models simultaneously?

Yes, using multiple attribution models simultaneously can help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. By comparing the results from different models, you can identify trends and patterns that might be missed if you were only using a single model. This approach can also help mitigate the inherent biases of individual models by providing a more well-rounded perspective on the impact of marketing channels and campaigns.

Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Conversion Path
  • Multi-Touch Attribution
  • Single-Touch Attribution
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Channel Weighting

Sources for More Information