Multi-Touch Attribution: What Is MTA Modeling and How Does It Work?

Multi-Touch Attribution: What Is MTA Modeling and How Does It Work?

8 Min Read

In today’s digital world, consumers receive marketing messages from a number of different channels. It can be difficult to track which marketing touchpoints are actually driving conversions. That’s where multi-touch attribution comes in.

Multi-touch attribution modeling allows you to see the full journey a customer takes before making a purchase. This includes all of the touchpoints they had with your brand, from seeing your ad on social media to seeing streaming TV ads to visiting your website.

By understanding the full customer journey, you can better allocate your marketing budget and optimize your campaigns for the touchpoints that are truly driving conversions.

What Is Multi-Touch Attribution?

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) is a marketing model that assigns credit for a conversion to all of the marketing touchpoints that a customer had with a company before making a purchase. 

MTA can improve marketing campaigns by helping businesses understand which channels are most effective at driving conversions. They can then use this information to create highly targeted marketing campaigns.

How Does Multi-Touch Attribution Work?

Here is a short example of how you can use multi-touch attribution:

A customer sees an ad for a product on Facebook. They click on the ad and visit the product page on the retailer’s website without purchasing anything. Later that week, they see another ad for the same product on Instagram. This time, they click on the ad and put the product in their cart but don’t purchase it. The next day, they see a third ad for the product on Google Search. This time, they decide to purchase the product.

In this example, the customer was exposed to the product through three different marketing touchpoints: 

  • Facebook ad
  • Instagram ad
  • Google Search ad 

Multi-touch attribution assigns a value to each of these touchpoints based on how likely it was to have influenced the conversion. For example, one model might weigh those three touchpoints as follows:

  • Facebook ad – 20% 
  • Instagram ad – 30%
  • Google Search ad – 50%

With 50% of the touchpoint value coming from Google Ads, you might decide to increase your spending on Google Search ads, as they seem to be the most effective at driving conversions.

Multi-Touch vs. First-Touch Attribution 

MTA assigns credit to all of the touchpoints that a customer interacts with before converting. This means that if a customer sees an ad on social media, visits your website, and then makes a purchase, all of those touchpoints would be credited with the conversion.

First-touch attribution only assigns credit to the first touchpoint that a customer interacts with before converting. 

Multi-Touch vs. Last-Touch Attribution

Last-touch attribution is the inverse of first-touch attribution: it only gives credit to the last marketing touchpoint that a customer interacts with before making a conversion, often the final click before a purchase is made. Like first-touch, last-touch attribution focuses on a single touchpoint, while multi-touch takes all or most of them into account.

Multi-Channel vs. Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-channel attribution only assigns credit to the channels that a customer interacts with on their path to purchase. For multi-channel attribution, you note conversions from channels—the types of advertisements or marketing, such as paid ads, organic search, or social media in general. 

MTA, on the other hand, is more detailed. With multi-touch models, you get specific details on the actual platform or website the ad appears on. For example, you might be getting 30% of your conversions from social media, but which platform matters — if Instagram is driving most of that 30%, but you didn’t know it, you might end up increasing spend on LinkedIn and Pinterest, too, for no reason.

Benefits of Multi-Touch Attribution

MTA has several benefits over other attribution models

  1. It provides a more accurate picture of how your marketing affects customer behavior. 
  2. It can help you identify which marketing touchpoints are most effective. 
  3. It helps you allocate your marketing budget more efficiently.

Types of Multi-Touch Attribution Models

There are many different types of multi-touch attribution models. What differentiates them is how they’re weighted. The best MTA model for your business will depend on a number of factors, such as your industry, your marketing strategy, and your goals. 

Linear Attribution

Linear attribution assigns equal credit to all touchpoints in the customer journey. This is a simple model to understand and implement, but it doesn’t allow you to assign extra weight to any touchpoints that were more important to a conversion.

U-Shaped Attribution 

This model assigns 40% credit each to the first and last touchpoints in the customer journey and 20% credit to the middle touchpoints.

Time-Decay Attribution

The time-decay attribution model assigns more credit to the touchpoints that occur closer to the conversion event. This model assumes that the closer the touchpoint is to the conversion, the more influence it has on the conversion rate. 

W-Shaped Attribution

The W-shaped attribution model assigns more credit to the first, last, and middle touchpoints in the customer journey. You then divide the rest of the credit among any remaining in-between touchpoints. 

Full-Path Attribution

The full path model is the most comprehensive and complex multi-touch attribution model. It tracks every marketing interaction a customer has, including their final touchpoint. You distribute weight by prioritizing key touchpoints, and then distributing weight equally between the rest.

Custom Attribution

Custom attribution allows you to assign custom weights to different touchpoints in the customer journey. It allows you to tailor the attribution model to your marketing and buying process. 

How to Implement Multi-Touch Attribution

There are two options when looking to implement an MTA model: You can build a multi-touch model in-house or source it from an external software vendor. You can start using MTA by following the following three easy steps.

Step 1: Collect Attribution Data

Before implementing MTA, you should consider what buyer journey data to track. Collect conversion-related data, including website visits, ad clicks, number of conversions, and the types of campaigns you are running. 

Step 2: Choose Your Attribution Model and Process Your Data

Next, choose the best marketing attribution model for your business and customer journey and process your data. Use analytics software or custom algorithms so you can assign credit to touchpoints accordingly. 

Step 3: Optimize and Test

You should continuously evaluate your MTA model data to optimize and test changes you make to your marketing efforts. You can also experiment with different models to see which one yields the most accurate results.

When to Use Multi-Touch Attribution

MTA is especially useful to:

  • Determine which touchpoint was most influential in a customer’s decision to buy.
  • Get an accurate picture of your return on investment (ROI) for marketing campaigns.
  • Better allocate marketing budgets to areas that will be most successful.

Challenges of Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution modeling is a complex process that can be challenging to implement and manage. Some of the challenges include:

  • Data collection and management: MTA models require a lot of data, which can be difficult and expensive to collect. 
  • Modeling complexity: MTA models can be very complex, which can make them difficult to understand and interpret compared to simpler attribution models.
  • Cost: Multi-touch attribution models are more expensive to implement and maintain. You might also need to work with a professional to help implement and analyze MTA. These costs can be prohibitive for small businesses or companies with limited marketing budgets.
  • Accuracy: MTA models are delicately balanced and thus highly sensitive to a number of factors, including data quality, model complexity, and the assumptions used. Without the right expertise, MTA models can easily become inaccurate.

Despite these challenges, multi-touch attribution modeling can be an essential tool for marketers. By understanding how different marketing channels interact with one another, you can make more informed decisions about how to allocate your marketing budget.

MNTN Verified Visits™ Changes the Game

MNTN’s Verified Visits™ make multi-touch attribution even clearer and easier to leverage. As an attribution model, Verified Visits™ tracks Performance TV’s impact on conversions and ensures that Connected TV (CTV) ads are only credited for conversions when they actually drove them—meaning this model only counts a visit when a viewer in a household visits a brand’s website on a device in their household after viewing their CTV commercial.

Here are some of the benefits of Verified Visits™:

  • More accurate attribution: Verified Visits™ provide a more accurate picture of CTV’s impact than traditional attribution methods like last-touch attribution.
  • Improved ROI measurement: By measuring the impact of TV ads on conversions, businesses can better understand the ROI of their streaming TV advertising campaigns.
  • Increased efficiency: Verified Visits™ can help businesses be more efficient with their marketing spend by providing the data they need to make informed decisions about where to allocate their budget.
  • Improved customer experience: By understanding the true impact of their TV ads, businesses can better tailor their marketing campaigns to the needs of their customers. 

Multi-Touch Attribution Modeling: Final Thoughts

MTA modeling is a powerful tool that can help marketers understand the full impact of their marketing campaigns. By accounting for all of the touchpoints that a customer has with your brand, multi-touch attribution can help you identify which channels are most effective at driving conversions.

You can then use this information to optimize marketing campaigns and improve ROI. Despite the challenges that multi-touch attribution modeling presents, the advantages far outweigh the drawbacks. Even with a range of different models available, multi-touch attribution modeling delivers the most accurate view of your marketing dollars at work.