Defensive Attribution: Let the Models Fight it Out

by Joy Brazelle

Why?  Why does Google Analytics give us so many choices when it comes to attribution reporting?

The answer should be obvious.  Death Match 2021.  If you are an owner of a channel and responsible for its performance, you need a good defense.  And your best defense, other than a big offense, is your attribution model.  ‘What?’ you say.  

A little more than a decade ago, attribution was a ‘big deal’.  And by a big deal, I mean expensive and too hard to think about.  And data scientists were scary.  AND there were no data scientist jokes…  (By data scientist jokes, I mean ‘A SQL query walks into a bar, walks up to two tables and asks “Can I join you?”’  Hilarious).

Okay, back then people who thought about attribution thought about the ‘purchase path’ in terms of categories of that path. 

Where in the path was the click (or impression)?  Was it at  beginning, middle or end?  Or to be more refined, was the interaction categorized as an Introducer, Influencer or a Closer.

Introducers – You meet Brand, Brand meet You

Things that get people to know you

Interactions that are common ‘Introducers’ are searches for general keywords, good banner ads, video and impressions.

If you are defending channels that drive Introducers, it would be good to start hanging out with these models:

First Interaction

Position Based (weighted more heavily for first interactions)

Influencers – Come on, everyone is doing it!

Things that encourage people to like or trust you

Interactions that are common ‘Influencers’ are anything that encourages a person they are doing the right thing, making the right decision – social, videos, retargeting.

Defending these Influencers-  Buddy up with these models.

Linear (with exclusions)

Position Based (weighted more heavily for middle interactions)

Closers – Things that seal the deal

Branded Keywords – Don’t take a model to a last click fight

Direct – Come on dude.  Stop ignoring (excluding) me.

My favorite closer models

Last interaction (including direct)

Time decay with a very short lookback window

So there are just a few. But there are more, and more granular classifications of where a channel falls along the purchase path. And pick your battles, and models, wisely.

Joy Brazelle

Solutions Lead

I’ve spent over 18 years helping clients use analytics to improve the performance of their websites , SEO, paid search and other marketing programs, with a brief detour to the FinTech worlds to see how alternative payment options impact the very, very bottom of the funnel.

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