Last-Touch Attribution Model: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Last-Touch Attribution Model: What Is It and How Does It Work?

5 Min Read

To optimize your marketing budget, you need to measure how well your marketing channels are converting. Various attribution models can help you gauge success by assigning conversion credit to different customer touchpoints. There are multiple attribution models to choose from, each with their own benefits and limitations.

But if you’re starting out, you’ll probably want to stick with the last-touch attribution model. It’s easy to implement and provides a solid indication of the return on investment for each digital channel.

What Is Last-Touch Attribution?

Last-touch attribution is a model that assigns 100% of the credit for a sale to a customer’s last touchpoint with your company. For example, a potential customer may have initially found your company through a streaming TV ad and then signed up for your email newsletter. If they made a purchase using a link in your email, that would be their last touchpoint.

With the last-touch attribution model, you would assign credit for the sale to that email link.

Last-Touch vs. First-Touch Attribution

Both last-touch and first-touch attribution models give 100% of the credit for a sale to one part of the buyer’s journey. The first-touch model assumes that the channel through which a customer first heard of your company is responsible for a sale.

Conversely, the last-touch attribution model considers a customer’s last touchpoint with your company to be the most meaningful. This model assumes that your most effective channels are the ones customers interact with right before they decide to make a purchase. First-touch attribution focuses on campaigns that generate brand awareness because customers can’t buy from your brand if they don’t know it exists.

How Does Last-Touch Attribution Work?

With last-touch attribution, you’re measuring how often each marketing channel is responsible for a conversion — in other words, for each sale, you walk back to the final channel that customer saw or engaged with before making the purchase and give credit to, or attribute, that touchpoint.

For example, even if a customer interacts with your brand through 15 different channels, you would only consider the final interaction to be “successful.” Think of it as the straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back attribution model — it can tell you which of your marketing efforts are tipping customers over the conversion line (but not which of the touchpoints they’ve seen was actually the most compelling).

Advantages of the Last-Touch Attribution Model

One of the main advantages of using a last-touch attribution model is its simplicity. Since you’re only assigning credit to a single touchpoint, you don’t need to track the entire buyer journey. This model is easy to implement, and you don’t have to analyze extensive data to measure each marketing channel’s success rate.

Moreover, because you’re measuring actual conversions, the last-touch attribution model is also less prone to error. It enables you to clearly see which channels are driving sales instead of having to assume which of your digital marketing efforts are creating awareness.

Disadvantages of the Last-Touch Attribution Model

The last-touch attribution model’s strength is also its weakness: it oversimplifies how marketing really works. In marketing, it’s generally accepted that a potential customer has to interact with your brand six to eight times before considering a purchase.

Last-touch attribution fails to consider how your other marketing efforts are contributing to buying decisions. For example, a potential customer may find out about your brand through a smart TV ad and gain interest in your product. However, unlike social media and pay-per-click ads, most smart TV ads don’t link to a landing page, so the customer has no choice but to use another touchpoint for the conversion.

By using last-touch attribution, you don’t gather enough data to measure the success of your digital marketing strategy as a whole.

Use Cases and Examples

While last-touch attribution may potentially miss key moments in a buyer’s journey, it’s still a useful model in many cases. For products and services that have a short buying cycle, this marketing attribution model can be exceptionally accurate.

If a person is making a major purchase — for example, booking a vacation — they will likely seek out information from multiple channels, which lengthens the buying process. They may encounter a variety of information and ads online and do some comparison shopping. In this case, last-touch attribution wouldn’t be as accurate, since people tend to weigh multiple options more carefully for major purchases.

But if a person is standing in the checkout line at a grocery store and decides they want a snack, they’ll likely choose from the candy bars at the display counter. However, the person probably didn’t research each brand thoroughly before making their purchase. They may opt for what’s on sale — which would give your in-store promotion full credit for the conversion.

The Rise of TV Attribution

As consumer media habits have changed, more companies have evolved their marketing tactics. As of 2023, 88% of households had at least one Connected TV device. To reach these customers, companies are spending more on CTV ads.

CTV is a great way to connect with customers because you can target people based on their interests and demographics and reach your primary audience with engaging ads designed specifically for them.

But as explained above, TV ads don’t have click-through links attached, which can make it difficult to give them the marketing credit they’re due. This is where MNTN’s Verified Visits™ technology comes in. Our solution validates and verifies customer visits to your website from your Connected TV ad based on a specific time window defined by you.

Request a demo to learn more about how it works.

Last-Touch Attribution: Final Thoughts

Since you’re only assigning credit for a conversion to one touchpoint, the last-touch attribution model is easy to implement. This approach offers valuable insights into which of your marketing channels are driving sales, allowing you to allocate your ad spend accordingly.

However, last-touch attribution may not offer a breakdown of a customer’s full relationship with your brand. Using this model, you might discredit marketing channels that are successfully making people aware of your brand. If you’re just getting started with attribution modeling, last-touch is a great way to get your feet wet. But if you want to see the big picture, you may want to explore different models.