What is Attribution Modeling?
Attribution modeling refers to the framework by which one analyzes the conversion path and attributes credit to the entity or marketing channel that caused the desired action to occur. Examples of the desired action could be signing up for an e-newsletter, clicking onto a page, making a purchase, and so on. There are a variety of attribution models but today we focus on content affiliates and the multi-touch attribution model.
Categories of Affiliates within an Attribution Model
Introducer/First Touch – The affiliate that sends a first-time visitor to the merchant’s website.
Influencer – The affiliate that sends a visitor to the merchants’ website, who had previously (within the cookie period) been to the website.
Checkout Influencer/Last Touch – Affiliate that sends a visitor to the site who is currently in the checkout process.
To understand what this looks like in practice, let’s look at Sara. Sara is your average online shopper. She has a healthy discretionary income but always prefers to score a deal on any online purchase.
- Introducer Scenario – Sara is on your website reading a review on a new product from a company she has never purchased from before. Sara is effectively compelled to purchase the product reviewed in the article so she clicks on the affiliate link included in the article and purchases the product. In this scenario, you’re the introducer affiliate.
- Influencer Scenario – Sara is back on your website reading a gear-roundup article and finds that you have included a product Sara has been thinking about purchasing for a while. She has already visited the merchants’ website in the past few days but has not yet purchased the item. After reading your review Sara decided to purchase the product via the affiliate link. Because Sara had already been to the merchant’s site but only made the purchase after having read the review on your site you would be attributed the sale as an influencer affiliate rather than an introducer.
- Checkout Influencer – Sara is now on a merchant’s website and is ready to make a purchase but is wanting to find an available discount. Sara knows your site often promotes vanity coupon codes so while in the purchase process, Sara visits your site, finds and applies a coupon code, and completes the purchase process. In this situation, you would be considered the checkout influencer.
Multi-touch Attribution Modeling
The scenarios listed above only address situations in which a conversion occurred after interacting with one affiliate. In reality, conversion typically occurs after the customer has interacted with several affiliates thus complicating the attribution. Multi-touch attribution modeling assigns value to all the affiliates who interacted with the customer while on the conversion path.
Here’s an example of this: Sara is on your website researching a product she has been interested in for a while. She has been on the merchants’ website to view the product but is referring to your website to gain some insights on the product to determine if she wants to make the purchase. Sara eventually decides she wants to purchase the product! She clicks the affiliate link included in your article, finds herself on the merchants’ website, and adds the product to her checkout cart. Sara then realizes that she can utilize a loyalty affiliate site to receive cash-back on her order. Consequently, Sara signs into her loyalty account and then proceeds to complete the purchase. In this scenario, your site is attributed to the influencer affiliate while the loyalty site is considered the checkout affiliate. Because multiple affiliates facilitated the conversion, both you and the loyalty site will be attributed to a portion of the sale.
Content Affiliates and Multi-Touch Attribution Modeling
Because the conversion path has gotten more complicated throughout the years, a multi-touch attribution model is difficult to set up. Additionally, as a content affiliate, you do not have the ability to create and manage the attribution model; you are simply a player within the model. But that doesn’t mean you are powerless.
The best way to ensure you are receiving your cut of commission on sales referred is to perform a thorough review of the attribution model offered by the affiliate program prior to joining. You see, each affiliate network and program offer different types of attribution models. There are many types of attribution models, each of them has their pros and cons. In general, what you are looking for is some sort of multi-touch attribution model, however, you may want to review your site analytics and determine the common behaviors and habits of your site visitor. Insights like how your audience interacts with your website and your affiliate links can help to inform you as to which model is most likely going to attribute the most sales to you.
Networks with Actionable Multi-Touch Attribution Modeling
AvantLink – AvantLink offers multi-channel attribution models through their AvantMetrics integration. You can find more information on how AvantLink manages commission payouts through attribution modeling here.
Pepperjam – Pepperjam also offers multiple-channel attribution modeling through their Dynamic Attribution Suite.
Rakuten Advertising – In 2021 Rakuten partnered with LeadsRX to provide more insights and tools to purchases to facilitate a variety of attribution models within the network platform. You can learn more about this here.
To dive deeper into attribution modeling and how we can help you to navigate this complex topic, visit our services page.