Buddy King

Account Executive

August 27, 2022

9 minute read

The 5 Most Common Ad Attribution Models

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Attribution models are important tools for digital marketers to understand and use to measure the success of their campaigns. There are several different attribution models, but the five most common attribution models are the following:

1) Last click attribution model

2) First click attribution model

3) Linear attribution model

4) Time decay attribution model

5) Position-based attribution model

For businesses with long sales cycles, you may want to consider using the time decay attribution model.  Ecommerce business owners will likely want to use the last-click attribution model. Well, why not first-click?  Sure! First-click is great for measuring the success of your lead magnets. Each ad attribution model has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the attribution model that best suits your needs. Read below to learn more about how these different attribution models can be helpful for your business!

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1) Last-click attribution model

The first attribution model is the Last-click attribution model. This attribution model assigns full credit for a conversion to the first ad a customer clicked on before converting. The advantage of this system is its simplicity, making it a good choice for businesses that need to learn the basics of customer conversion rates.

Last click attribution is great for understanding which of your advertisement is ultimately driving your conversions. However, it is important to note that this attribution model doesn't take into account other factors that may have contributed to the conversion.


2) First-click attribution model

The second attribution model is the First-click attribution model. This attribution model assigns full credit for a conversion to the first ad a customer clicked on before converting. Similar to last-click, the advantage of first-click attribution is its simplicity.

First-click attribution is great for measuring the success of your "Top of Funnel" advertising efforts. For example, if you want to measure the success of your lead magnets then you may want to analyze your results using first-click attribution.  Similar to last-click, this attribution model can have its shortcomings as some advertisers hold the opinion that first-click (and last-click) is an oversimplification of the buyer's journey.

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3) Linear attribution model

A linear attribution model distributes the credit for a conversion equally across all ad interactions along the buyer's path to making a purchase. One of the strengths of Linear attribution is that it gives you a more balanced look at your whole marketing strategy, rather than a single-event attribution model like last-click or first-click attribution.

However,  a downside of linear attribution is that it assigns equal importance to every touch point of a buyer's path. So this means that although some of your marketing strategies may be more effective than others, linear attribution will treat all touch points the same.  

4) Time decay attribution model

Time decay attribution is a method of assigning credit for conversions to ads that are closer in time to the conversion. This method uses a 7-day half-life. This means that an ad interaction 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as an ad interaction 1 day before a conversion.

This attribution model gives a weighted credit to ads that are interacted with closer to the time of the conversion. The time decay attribution model should really only be used for analyzing the success of campaigns with longer sales cycles because it is beneficial for businesses that are looking to build relationships with their customers throughout the buyer's journey. This model minimizes the effect of top-of-the-funnel marketing techniques and emphasizes the effectiveness of marketing campaigns over time.

5) Position-based attribution model

If you have a business with multiple touch points, position-based attribution is a great model to use. The Position-based attribution model gives 40% of the credit to both the first and last ad interactions and corresponding keywords, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other ad interactions on the path.

The reason that this is a great model for businesses with multiple touch points is that each interaction gets some credit. However, position-based attribution gives the most weight to the especially the two most important touch points: the first time a customer interacted with one of your ads, and the ad that ultimately drove the conversion.

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So again, there are a variety of attribution models to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. The most important thing is to understand which attribution model works best for your business and use it to measure the success of your marketing campaigns. If you're not sure which attribution model is right for you, speak with an expert who can help guide you through the process.

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