New Attribution Models to Accurately Measure ROI for Online Ads

It’s hard enough to measure ROI on digital advertising but when attribution models are used incorrectly the audit trail can get downright confusing. Should a marketer be happy with the current last-​click attribution model which is the industry standard? Some analysts say marketers should be willing to work a little harder to properly value formats like social media and organic search which are vastly under-counted.

As consumers search online for products and services, they may click on a number of links. To track which ad format has brought a consumer to a product page and to make a purchase, analytic models often give credit the most recently clicked image or link. This is certainly an easy approach as consumers may have followed a complicated path during the search process. But this strategy undervalues certain media formats, experts say.

There are other approaches to measuring the value of media formats in the path to purchase process. Agencies prefer the following methods:

  • Last click 54%
  • Customized by channel 41%
  • First click 41%
  • Unique/​in-​house methodology 35%
  • Linear 29%
  • Time decay (those most recently clicked get more weight) 19%

Industry studies show significant differences in revenue per visitor calculations when alternate measurement strategies are employed. For example, in one study that focused on search, first-​click attribution models valued the channel at $3.85 per site visitor while last-​click attribution valued it at $2.78 per site visitor.

Now that the era of Big Data is here, marketers and their agencies have this kind of information at their fingertips. Instead of defaulting to a first or last-​click attribution, more marketers will likely expand the measurement path they track in order to accurately calculate ROI for online campaigns.

[Source: Last-​Click Attribution Models Give Marketers Income Picture. Emarketer​.com. 27 Apr. 2012. 10 May 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.