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Challenges of Multi Touch Attribution

July 24, 2020 DJ Team

group of marketers discussing the challenges of multi touch attribution

Multi touch attribution is the process of determining the value of each touchpoint that a consumer has with your brand on their path to purchase. When you start to look at ways to measure your attribution, multi touch attribution models often provide insight because in most cases a consumer will interact with multiple marketing channels prior to converting. 

What is Multi Touch Attribution?

Multi touch attribution is a method to determine the value of each touchpoint on the path to conversion. A multi touch model should factor in all marketing channels that a customer may interact with on their path to purchase. The goal of attribution is to assign credit for the conversion. But the larger objective here is to better understand the customer journey and which marketing touchpoints lead to conversions.

There are single touch attribution models, such as first or last touch, which give 100% of the credit for the conversion to the first or last contact point the customer has with your brand before converting. These models have merit, but oftentimes they do not tell the whole story.

A multi touch attribution model example would be a linear model. The linear model takes all of the touchpoints your customer has on their path to conversion and assigns credit equally across all touchpoints. Other examples might include time-decay, which gives a greater percentage of credit to the last touchpoint prior to conversion. Both of these models are considered multi touch because they include more than one of the touchpoints that your target audience encounters.

The benefits of multi touch attribution include a wider set of data and more complete information on the buyer's journey. But there are challenges of multi touch attribution, which will be discussed later on. First, let’s focus in more detail on a few of the most common multi touch models.

How to Implement Multi Touch Attribution Models

Where first click or last click attribution only deals with one touchpoint, a multi touch attribution method deals with multiple - allowing the marketer to gain more insight on what drives customers to converting. The model you use depends on your specific business needs and what type of insight you are looking for.

Here are a few of the most common multi touch attribution models:

  • Linear Attribution - This method gives equal credit to all of the touchpoints on the path to conversion. It covers the entire customer journey but it does not tell you which touchpoints are more valuable and have a larger impact.
  • Position Based - This model typically prioritizes two touchpoints, the first and the last. It weighs these as more important than the other touchpoints. You can add more than those two touchpoints to this model. For instance, you might also prioritize the second to last touch.
  • Custom Model - The custom model is one that you invent based on current and previous data or based on the information that you need to gather.
  • Time Decay - This model assigns more weight to the last touchpoint before conversion. It assigns the credit by percentages and decreases their worth with each step away from the last touchpoint.

In some cases, you might use last touch attribution in combination with one of these other methods if you find that it offers insight.

Multi Channel vs Multi Touch Attribution

Multi channel and multi touch web attribution are often talked about interchangeably. They are not strictly the same. Multi channel reports on that channel and these are weighted based on the action that leads up to conversion. In real terms, your multi channel attribution connects the channel to the revenue that it generates. In the multi touch model, you're looking at all of the different touchpoints and you get a more comprehensive look at the customer journey.

Multi Touch Attribution Limitations

Multi touch attribution solutions do offer more robust information on the buyer's journey, but they still have limitations. For one thing, it can be difficult to find the impact attribution, or the correlation between spend and conversion. The higher the correlation between spend and conversion (or revenue), the higher the impact that channel should be assigned in the attribution model . This is a key way that businesses determine which marketing initiatives to continue funding, so it is important to narrow this down.

Each of the different models has its own limitations, as well. For example, linear attribution does give credit to all of the points on the buyer's journey, but it weighs them all as equal. We know that some touchpoints will have a much greater impact than others. When you devise your attribution models, it's important to start with your end goal in mind - what are you trying to answer? What decisions are you making with this information? These answers will change over time but they can give you a good indication of the models that will work best for your goals. 

If you're still not sure which attribution model is right for you, DemandJump can help. Get a tailored demo of our attribution solution or start your free 30 day trial

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