What is Marketing Attribution?

Matt Fanelli, Senior VP, Digital

marketing attribution models can help determine what marketing efforts are working and which are not.

Attribution is the bridge between marketing data and sales data, assigning credit for a conversion or engagement activity to specific touchpoints that clearly influenced a purchase. This allows companies to make informed decisions about which spending efforts have been working to reach their target audience.

The Importance of Attribution in Marketing

Marketing Attribution is more important than ever before. Within the marketing ecosystem, clients and agencies have so many choices that it’s hard to determine which make the most sense to drive results. As choices increase and budgets decrease, having the ability to maximize every single marketing dollar is of the utmost importance. As marketers, we want to ensure that we are reaching the right people at the right moment in time and in the right place. Digital attribution of multiple channel modeling enables us to determine success and minimize marketing spend waste.

Measuring the Impact of Cross Channel Attribution

Connecting the dots between all the touchpoints is easier said than done. The easiest correlation is a one-to-one correlation—run digital campaigns that drive consumers to your site and they make a purchase. Using an ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) tag captures the sales data, and just like that you can determine the success of the campaign. In the current environment, a marketer’s ability to attribute first touch, multi-touch, and last-click tracking has become more challenging because of all the advertising vehicles marketers use. Most marketers look at search as the Holy Grail, and while it does play a very important part in the ecosystem it is not the be-all-end-all. Search captures an existing demand, while other vehicles inspire the demand. Through the development of cross-channel attribution modeling, marketers can start the process of identifying what’s working and what isn’t. This is a process that needs to happen over time and it requires a marketer to shift and change every single place where they are investing dollars. While they’re changing budgets and advertising vehicles, they need to see how that affects the outcome of sales—then they need to change again. All studies indicate that this process can take up to 18 months for the optimal mix.

The Future of Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling

If marketers ignore attribution completely, it’s like throwing paper at a wall and hoping something sticks. To be successful and maximize their business, brands should focus on what is working and what isn’t. The danger is throwing marketing dollars away on things that have zero impact on your business—things that don’t stick—as your competitors focus on spending their dollars precisely to gain market share.


Over the course of the next five years, a holistic marketing attribution model should be well within reach. As technology continues to improve, the development of a common identifier to run across any screen, any device, in any medium will happen. This will close the loop and hold more companies accountable for their advertising mechanisms in a variety of ways.


MNI can help if you are considering working with a multi-touch digital attribution vendor!

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