An attribution model is a set of rules that measures how credit for conversions on a website is assigned to each marketing channel and touch point in paths to conversion.
Attribution model results are then used for marketing analysis, budget allocation and possibly partner payments (see more on conversion attribution).
Before attributing credit for conversion, each channel or touch point must be identified within the path to conversion for a given period of time before the conversion or purchase.
In fact, more often, only digital channels are taken into account in the conversion path because it is difficult and sometimes impossible to indentify individual offline touch points except if personalized landing URLs are used (via QR codes for instance).
Some attribution models are only based on clicked channels and others also encompass viewed channels (display ads that are not clicked for instance).
Attribution models can be very complex and many factors can be used for wheighting each touch point:
Type of touch point (display ad, search ad,..)
Type of keyword (brand, generic)
Clicked versus Viewed
Position in the path to conversion
Contact recency compared to conversion date and time
Engagement (video view duraction, ad interaction, retweet, like, etc;)
Visit behavior after a click (visit length, nature of page viewed, number of page views)
Type of order (first sale / repeat sale)
Device used by the exposed individual
An example of wheighting system, :
Image credit Fuor Digital
The different attribution models are :
Models are chosen according to the nature of the activity and according to marketing / analytics ressources. For instance, last click attribution may be used for low value impulse buying but is not pertinent for cruise sales.
For a single site, different attribution models can be used for each type of product.
An illustration of different attribution models:
Image credit Longhop blog
How the choice of an attribution model impacts a channel credit:
Image credit Artemis Havas Digital