Linear Attribution Model: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Linear Attribution Model: What Is It and How Does It Work?

6 Min Read

To plan your marketing strategy and budget accurately, you need a clear understanding of the performance of each of your campaigns. But digital marketing is complex and includes multiple touchpoints with each customer, which means gaining a full understanding of your campaign performance can be tricky. That’s where attribution modeling comes in.

Attribution modeling is a term that refers to how you assign credit for various ad campaigns on your sales. One such model, linear attribution, considers all touchpoints on the customer’s journey, which can be an effective way to determine how successful your overall campaign is in converting.

What Is Linear Attribution?

The linear attribution model gives every touchpoint in a customer journey equal credit in convincing a customer to buy from your company. If a customer heard about you through a Connected TV (CTV) ad, visited your website, and followed you on social media, each of these channels would be considered a touchpoint.

Even if this potential customer doesn’t buy anything until they see one of your social media ads in their feed, the linear attribution model would credit each of these ad campaigns for conversion.

How Does Linear Attribution Work?

Linear attribution assumes that every interaction a customer has with your brand influences their decision to buy. While other marketing attribution models may give full credit to your awareness campaigns or a channel that actually led to a sale, this model values each step on the customer journey equally.

With the linear model, you’re essentially charting how a customer has interacted with your brand leading up to a sale. Once they click on your landing page or comment on one of your social media posts, you can consider them a potential customer. To ensure accuracy, you need to track every touchpoint they have with your brand until a sale is made. Then, you assign equal weight to each of these marketing efforts.

The example above included four touchpoints — the CTV ad, a website visit, a social media follow, and a sale from a social media post. Each of these touchpoints would receive 25% credit for the final sale.

Advantages of the Linear Attribution Model

The linear attribution model acknowledges that a potential customer will likely interact with your brand multiple times before they finally buy something. Single-touch attribution models don’t consider the whole customer journey. Linear attribution allows you to evaluate each campaign to determine how you’ll allocate your marketing budget going forward.

If you use a single-touch attribution model such as first-touch or last-touch attribution, you may not get a clear picture of all the ways your customers find you.

Disadvantages of the Linear Attribution Model

Because the linear attribution model assigns equal credit to each customer touchpoint, you might not have an accurate idea of which campaign was most successful — it can show you that a customer saw an ad on a certain channel, but not how compelling it was in their decision to buy. If a customer has multiple touchpoints with your brand, it’s likely not all of them will have been responsible for a sale.

Think of a large company with abundant marketing resources. Companies like this run hundreds of commercials a week and employ social media teams to make clever posts day in and day out. While a potential customer might think these social media posts are funny, the posts might not convince them to make a purchase. If the same customer uses a digital coupon from a company email to make a purchase, the email campaign deserves more credit for the sale than a cheeky social media post. (No offense to the cheeky social media poster.)

Data privacy regulations and other reporting limitations also make it tricky to track a customer across marketing platforms. You have to be able to match a customer from one platform to the next to accurately assign credit with this attribution model.

Similarly, it’s also harder to track your offline marketing efforts as part of the whole customer journey. You can track who uses coupons to shop in-store and have in-store customers sign up for email or take an online survey. But you can’t really tell who is seeing your print ads and who might be wandering into your business from off the street.

Use Cases and Examples

Linear modeling is a great way to get started with multi-touch attribution. Since you distribute credit equally among touchpoints, you don’t have to get too deep in your campaign analysis. When you can match customers across platforms, you can track them and divide the credit equally among each touchpoint. Once you’re comfortable tracking a customer’s journey with your brand, you can consider diving into other, more complicated multi-touch attribution models.

For example, once you start using linear attribution, you might track a social media user’s name when they start following you. You might be able to match it to their email address and cross-check your mailing list to see if they’re already on it. If not, you might include a call to action in your targeted social media campaigns to encourage new followers to sign up. 

When you’re looking at click-through rates on social media ads and tracking sales, you can match names or email addresses on new orders to see if any of these customers exist in your system. Once you know how many times they have interacted with your brand, you can divvy up credit for the sale.

The Rise of TV Attribution

The majority of U.S. households own at least one TV or other streaming device connected to the internet. CTV advertising lets you reach this captive audience. However, these ads can be harder to attribute directly to a sale, because most smart TVs or streaming platforms don’t offer viewers the option to click through an ad to a specific landing page.

MNTN Performance TV allows you to run CTV campaigns like you would on other digital performance channels like social media or search. With this solution, you can target specific audiences with optimized ads that maximize your marketing budget. You can enter your budget and goal, and Performance TV will optimize your ad strategy. Our platform also uses Verified Visits™, the proprietary technology we designed to accurately attribute sales to your CTV campaigns. Read more about Verified Visits here.

Want to learn more about Performance TV? Schedule a demo today.

Linear Attribution: Final Thoughts

Although linear attribution may give too much weight to certain customer touchpoints, this attribution model gives you a better picture of your overall marketing efforts. It is a great gateway model into multi-touch attribution without requiring more thorough data analysis.

If you’re ready to get your feet wet with attribution modeling, consider using the linear model.