Digital advertising campaigns typically are launched across multiple channels, including search, display ads, social media, mobile, video, and e-mail. But how do advertisers know which media channels or ad formats have contributed to a consumer’s purchase?
Understanding the complex process of attribution, or assigning conversion credit to the various relevant channels, is critical for interpreting the influence of ads on consumer behavior. However, comprehending the pros and cons of various attribution models can be daunting.
A study in the Journal of Advertising Research addressed this challenge using an online company’s purchase-conversion data to examine the nature and scope of five different multi-channel attribution models in measuring the performance of online channels in customer journeys — last click, time-decay, uniformly distributed, position-based, and statistical. Among the findings:
• At each stage in a consumer’s journey toward purchase, different online channels feature most prominently.
• Existing credit-assignment methods, such as the last-click, suffer from the problem of attribution—they do not take into account the impact of all those advertising formats that were visited by a consumer contemplating a purchase.
• Statistics-based modeling provides stable and accurate interpretations of the influence of each user interaction.
• The authors are able to offer guidance on aggregate-level budget-allocation decisions across multiple forms of advertising.