Todd Martin

Associate Manager, Measurement

Data-Driven Recommendations: Defining Multi-Touch Attribution

Most marketers have a basic understanding of the concept of multi-touch attribution (MTA), but how many of us can actually define it? Even though many of us understand that it is a vital component of any data-driven marketing strategy, there are still surprisingly few marketing organizations that effectively leverage attribution to guide their marketing initiatives.

For example, what does attribution have to do with being customer-led? How does it relate to revenue and profitability? Answering these questions comes down to understanding what multi-touch attribution is, what it can do, and how it provides value. But perhaps equally important is understanding what MTA is not. So, here’s a good place to start:

What Multi-Touch Attribution Is
Multi-touch attribution is the process of tracking and assigning value to all media interactions in customers’ paths to conversion. At its core, an attribution solution allows marketers and analysts to measure the independent value of specific marketing tactics in near real time to maximize the return on investment of each media dollar spent. An advanced MTA solution can also reveal the intricacies of your customer journey, by applying user-level data to construct and analyze each customer’s path. With the right solution in place, you have a single source of truth to assess which channels, strategies, and tactics are driving the most value for your organization.

What Multi-Touch Attribution Is Not
Multi-touch attribution is not media mix modeling (MMM). MMM is a top-down approach to assessing the efficacy of media channels for the purpose of guiding longer term budget decisions.

MTA operates at the user level and excels at providing granular, frequent, actionable insights for tactical optimization, but is not ideal as a scenario planning tool. In contrast, MMM takes a 50,000 foot view of marketing activity, and is capable of incorporating a host of exogenous factors that MTA models cannot. As a result, MMM is best suited for guiding annual or semi-annual budgeting decisions across all marketing channels, but is ill equipped for driving media optimizations.

MMM and MTA are not, however, mutually exclusive solutions. In fact, they are complementary methods that a brand can use to make sound strategic decisions and achieve the highest possible return on ad spend.

MTA platforms are also not stand-alone solutions. An advanced MTA platform is a critical component in your martech stack, but its value cannot be fully realized without being integrated into a unified measurement framework. From there, expert analysts can identify actionable insights and media practitioners can activate against those insights to continually optimize media performance and maximize return on ad spend.


Leveraging MTA requires both advanced technology that delivers a comprehensive view of your marketing funnel and a team of experts that can identify and activate media optimizations to help your organization succeed. This team plus technology approach is the best way to ensure you can improve your return on ad spend and move the needle on your KPIs.

To learn more about attribution and media strategy, download Rise Interactive and Conversion Logic’s e-book, "Connecting Attribution and Media Strategy: A Meeting of the Minds".

06/26/2017 at 10:27

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