Advertising, Connected TV

View-Through vs. Click-Through Attribution: Differences Explained

View-Through vs. Click-Through Attribution: Differences Explained

8 Min Read

As you expand your digital marketing strategies to encompass all of the platforms that might appeal to your target audience, you need an accurate and precise way to measure your success. Two options for doing so: view-through and click-through attribution. Although these attribution models are similar, they’re not the same. This article explores view-through vs. click-through attribution, including key differences and when to use each method.

View-Through Attribution

View-through attribution is a method of assigning credit for customer conversions to impressions — aka how many people saw your ad. This model helps you understand what resonated with your target audience but didn’t immediately inspire them to take action.

How View-Through Attribution Works

View-through attribution works by assigning a predefined window to each ad campaign. You set your targeting window based on your average sales cycle. If you’re new to view-through attribution, you can start with a 30-day window, then adjust it after you’ve become more familiar with your target audience. Once you’ve set your targeting window, you count conversions within that time frame and attribute them to your ad campaign.

You can use view-through attribution with Connected TV (CTV) ads, social media campaigns, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and offline channels. One of the easiest ways to make view-through attribution more accurate is to assign a specific call to action to each campaign. Then you can measure your success based on the action a customer takes.

Advantages of View-Through Attribution

Because you aren’t measuring actual clicks, view-through attribution can provide unique insights into your marketing campaigns. By setting performance windows for CTV ads, traditional TV ads, and offline marketing efforts like digital billboards, you can measure their success without an ad-specific landing page.

View-through attribution is also great for measuring awareness campaigns and other mid-funnel marketing efforts. Depending on your product or service, customers may spend a lot of time in the decision-making phase as they compare your brand with competitors. With view-through attribution, you can measure ad campaigns that move people through the sales funnel.

Disadvantages of View-Through Attribution

One of view-through attribution’s biggest disadvantages is that you can’t trace a customer’s action to a specific ad campaign through a link. Because you’re assigning credit for every conversion within your specified window, you risk incorrectly crediting an ad campaign for an action it had no impact on.

For example, if you run a CTV ad on a popular streaming network that asks viewers to sign up for a product demonstration, you would assign credit for any new demos to that ad. However, a new customer may have learned about you from an existing customer, or a previous ad campaign, and just happened to sign up during the window you set.

Effective view-through attribution also involves setting the right window. You need a precise understanding of when your customers will take action following an ad campaign to properly assign credit.

Click-Through Attribution

Click-through attribution involves tracking click-through rates on an ad campaign. With this method, you assign credit only for new customers who actively click on your ad and take a specific action, such as purchasing a product or signing up for a demo.

How Click-Through Attribution Works

Similar to the view-through model, when using click-through attribution, you set a look-back window to measure your success. That said, with this attribution model, you can assign a landing page to each campaign, which makes it easier for customers to take action. When setting up each page, you can include a download link or a link to book a demo. You can then measure how many people take action through these links.

To measure click-through rates on each ad, you use data analytics. For example, if you run an ad on Facebook encouraging people to sign up for a demo, you’d measure the click-through rate of the ad against the number of people who signed up in your look-back window.

You can also measure new installs or increased customer engagement relative to your ad’s click-through rate.

Advantages of Click-Through Attribution

Measuring click-through attribution can be more precise and accurate than view-through attribution. Because you can see your click-through rate and analyze it against how many people took a specific action, it gives you a clearer picture of your ad’s success rate. This method also allows you to measure actual data instead of just assuming someone took action because they saw your ad.

Disadvantages of Click-Through Attribution

Click-through attribution offers a limited view of the average buyer’s journey, as some customers will see your ads in multiple locations before they decide to make a purchase. Since click-through attribution assigns credit only to an ad someone clicked, you may not be crediting the right campaign, or all relevant ones.

For example, if you run a video ad on social media, aimed at building brand awareness, viewers click on your website to learn more. Even if these people leave your site without taking action, they may flag it to visit again later. In a few months, they might see another social media ad campaign that inspires them to buy from you. When they click through that ad and use the discount code to make a purchase, you would assign all of the credit for the sale to your second ad. However, your first ad could be considered more persuasive since it compelled them to learn more about your brand in the first place.

Click-through attribution is also limited in its ability to measure an ad’s success. Since it’ll only consider ad campaigns that allow people to click a link, you can’t use it for TV, podcast, CTV, or offline ads. You could add a QR code to a physical billboard or a TV ad, but these are not as user-friendly as a simple link on a social media ad.

By solely relying on click-through attribution to measure your success, you could be ignoring successful marketing channels and allocating your ad spend in the wrong places.

View-Through Attribution vs. Click-Through Attribution: Differences Summarized

The main differences between click-through and view-through attribution involve how conversion credit is assigned. View-through attribution is more concerned with impressions (aka views), while click-through attribution focuses on actions.

Think of view-through attribution as a resource for tracking TV and other media ads, as well as offline ads — in other words, ads that can’t be clicked. View-through isn’t as precise as click-through attribution, but when your customers can’t click or access a link or take action, there’s no way to directly measure their performance with the latter. The former helps you fill in this gap.

With view-through attribution, you can assign a call to action to each ad campaign and measure how many people took action during your look-back window. This method gives you an idea of how your TV, media, and offline ads are building awareness and driving people to your website.

Click-through attribution, on the other hand, makes it easier to measure an ad’s success based on specific numbers. This attribution model can be helpful for ads at the bottom of the funnel, where customers are ready to take action. It also helps you allocate your ad spend to your most successful channels based on data. However, this model doesn’t give you the whole picture of the customer’s journey, and you risk miscrediting some of your ads.

The Rise of TV Attribution

Viewers’ migration from live TV to streaming services has opened up the market for businesses of all sizes. Around 87% of households have at least one streaming service, and CTV represents the perfect blend of digital and television advertising.

With CTV, you can reach the large audiences of traditional television while targeting specific segments, similar to how you run social media ads. Until recently, it was difficult to measure a CTV ad’s success, though. Customers can’t click on these ads, so there’s no way to measure them using click-through attribution. Even if customers are using a device that allows interactive ads, they may not interrupt their show to look at your website.

MNTN solves this problem with Performance TV. You can start your campaign off right with access to a premium CTV inventory, automated tools, and industry-leading measurement and attributionVerified Visits™ gives you insight into how your CTV ads are influencing potential customers, allowing you to easily assess which ads are converting customers and which may need some finessing.

Request a demo today to learn more about how it can work for you.

View-Through vs. Click-Through Final Thoughts

It’s important to track how people are responding to your ad campaigns. With the right data, you can better understand how to target your audience with messages that resonate. The click-through and view-through attribution models are two useful ways to make data-driven decisions.

Although click-through attribution gives you solid numbers, it might not show you the whole picture of how a customer interacts with your brand. On the other hand, view-through attribution requires you to make educated guesses about which ads are responsible for converting customers.

Each model has its strengths and weaknesses. View-through attribution may be more appropriate for brand awareness campaigns and mid-funnel marketing efforts. Click-through attribution may be better for lower-funnel customers. Using a mix can give you the best of both worlds, allowing you to accurately allocate your marketing budget.