The following is a guest post by Sean Nowlin, the senior display media manager at PPC Associates.

“Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit form. Its rewards are inestimable.”

These two oft-quoted lines are attributed to the late Loretta Young. While she was more than likely referring to the acting profession, the words are very much relatable to display advertising. Thanks to ever-improving technology and rich data sets, the days of last-click and last-view attribution are numbered.

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) modeling takes a holistic look at all of your advertising channels and gives weighted conversion credit to each touch point. Industry standard has been last-touch attribution (LTA) for time immemorial. If online performance is supposed to be easier to measure than offline performance, why has LTA lived for so long? Well, for one thing, if your partner mix looks anything like this…

Ad Network A
Ad Network B
Direct Publisher Relationship
Retargeting Provider
Email Marketing Provider
Paid Search

…you might have a problem.

With so many different partners sitting between advertisers and their audience, no wonder it has been so difficult to measure attribution. LTA just simplifies things (without regard to ROI) for all parties involved.

An advertiser might have conversions from organic search, paid search, display advertising, email, or direct site traffic. Without proper attribution, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the conversion story. Maybe that sale came from a mix of organic search, email marketing, and display impressions. But which channel brings the best ROI to the table? Which partner deserves the most credit? Certainly it’s hard to tell with LTA.

There are many service providers trying to crack the MTA nut. And it’s probably worthwhile to at least check out a few of them. A tip: if you incorporate display advertising into the mix, make sure the provider includes impression-level data, along with clicks, in their modeling approach. Evaluating modeling partners is especially important if your company utilizes many different online advertising channels. Your best-performing partners would rather optimize off the most accurate snapshot of your sales funnel. Shooting in the dark isn’t the best way to achieve great results.

So with that in mind, I leave you with some words of wisdom: Understanding the entire conversion picture can only improve results. To optimize your budget, you need to put it in the most capable hands. The only way you can is with data


Make Loretta and me proud.

Sean Nowlin, the senior display media manager at PPC Associates, has over ten years of experience in sales and marketing, including three years running display campaigns for Progressive Insurance. Sean, an Ohio native, has a wife, two children, and an unhealthy love of Cleveland sports teams.