View-Through Attribution (VTA): What Is It and How Does It Work?

View-Through Attribution (VTA): What Is It and How Does It Work?

7 Min Read

To make sure you’re allocating your ad spend on the right ads, you need to track their overall performance. But if people don’t immediately take action, traditional attribution methods may not accurately measure how many people have actually seen your ads. 

With the view-through attribution (VTA) model, you can attribute conversions to ad impressions, which gives you a more granular assessment of your ads’ performance. This marketing attribution model lets you measure conversions from people who saw an ad but didn’t immediately take action. 

What Is View-Through Attribution?

View-through attribution is a model in which you attribute conversions to ad impressions even if the user didn’t take a direct action. With this attribution model, you assume that any user who clicks on your website, makes a purchase, or downloads your app has seen a recent ad. 

VTA is a great model for measuring traditional television ads, Connected TV (CTV) ads, offline ads, and other methods you can’t always track with a click-through rate. But you can also use it with digital ads, assuming that not everyone who sees your ad is going to click on it right away. 

View-Through vs. Click-Through Attribution

The main difference between VTA and click-through attribution (CTA) is that CTA assigns credit for a conversion only for people who clicked through an ad. CTA is more precise because you can use it to track the exact percentage of people who clicked on your ad and made a purchase. Because you can track user behaviors, this attribution model will give you a more accurate idea of how your ads are performing. 

But CTA doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture of your ad campaign. You might launch a marketing campaign on multiple channels, which exposes your brand to a potential customer in multiple locations. CTA would give credit for the conversion to an ad only if the customer clicked it. It’s possible, however, that the customer saw your brand on a Connected TV ad and logged onto your website to learn more about your product. If they were then targeted by an ad based on their internet activity, CTA considers only that retargeting ad. 

You can use both methods together to gain a more holistic view of your performance across channels. 

How Does View-Through Attribution Work? 

VTA starts with setting a window of time when you launch a new ad. You might choose to measure website traffic and new sales over 24 hours, or for up to 30 days, depending on your typical sales cycle. VTA, by definition, allows you to monitor impressions, so it’s important to understand how your typical ads perform. 

If you regularly see an uptick in website traffic for 30 days after you run a television ad or a podcast ad, for example, you can set your window to 30 days. However, if you notice that your website traffic and sales peak after a week, you can shorten your window. 

Using the view-through attribution model, you’d give credit to your most recent ad campaign for any desired action that happens during your window, including: 

  • App install
  • Re-attribution
  • Re-engagement
  • Email list sign-up 
  • Call for more information
  • Purchase 

Advantages of the View-Through Attribution Model

VTA allows you to measure the performance of ad campaigns for which you don’t have a click-through option. It gives you a more accurate picture of how your marketing efforts are working together as a whole. 

Because VTA considers CTV ads, traditional television ads, podcasts, and offline ads, it gives you a better idea of how to find your target audience. You aren’t limited to measuring only digital marketing channels with click-through data and guessing as to where else you should target your audience. 

With VTA, you can make each marketing campaign unique, with a different call to action, and measure how your audience is responding. For example, you might launch an ad campaign on multiple podcasts with a call to action to sign up for a consultation. 

At the same time, you might launch a CTV ad with a call to action to find out more about a specific product. You would attribute customer actions to each campaign based on whether the user signed up for a consultation or requested specific product information. 

VTA is also more successful when you’re working in an industry with longer sales cycles. If your customers tend to seek out a lot of information before making a purchase, they might need to be exposed to your brand multiple times to consider you as a viable option. VTA allows you to measure how well your ad campaigns are driving customers to seek out more information on your brand. 

Disadvantages of the View-Through Attribution Model

Because you can’t directly track customers using a click-through rate or some other quantifiable metric, you could be giving too much credit to various ad campaigns that aren’t actually driving conversions. VTA requires you to understand your typical sales cycle so you can set the right window. 

Additionally, VTA doesn’t measure conversions after your set window closes. If a customer sees your CTV ads and doesn’t make a purchase until months later, you may not credit the right ad campaign. If you’re using tracking cookies and other methods to track users who check out your website after viewing an ad, your data wouldn’t include people who deleted their cookies before they looked you up online. 

VTA often works by matching users across devices. You may be able to match a person who signed up for your offer with a person who saw your CTV ad because you can match their email address to an account on a CTV platform. If the person is using multiple devices or accounts, however, you may not assign credit to the right places. 

Use Cases and Examples

View-through attribution is a great option for measuring marketing campaigns targeting people at the front end of the sales funnel. VTA lets you determine which messages and channels are most successful at building awareness so you can optimize your marketing efforts. 

For example, if you’re running a brand awareness campaign on multiple channels, you can tweak your ad once your window ends and measure the alternative ad during the next window. You might run a CTV ad for a week and then change your call to action and run the new ad for another week.

You would then track your website traffic, social media follows, and other marketing metrics to see which ad seemed to drive more people to your brand. 

VTA is also useful when you want to consider a customer’s whole journey with your brand. For example, you might run a campaign on Facebook, website displays, and paid Google search. A customer may see your display ad on their daily news website but not click it. Later, they may watch your video ad while scrolling through Facebook and click through to your website to buy your product. If you’re using only click-through attribution, you wouldn’t consider your display ad’s role in converting this customer. 

The Rise of TV Attribution

In the past, it was difficult to properly credit CTV ads for converting customers. Because people watching your video ads can’t click through, you may not be accurately measuring how these ads are driving traffic. 

MNTN’s Verified Visits™ technology has revolutionized TV attribution by giving you a better way to measure how well your CTV ads are working.

Here’s a quick walk through how it works:

  1. First, a user sees a streaming tv commercial in their living room
  2. Then this user visits your website on any device within their household, within a time frame you define. Most of our advertisers start with a time frame equal to their purchase cycle.
  3. Once the user converts, it’s counted as a conversion within our reporting and within Google Analytics and Rockerbox.

Learn more by requesting a demo to see how Verified VisitsTM can help you refine your OTT advertising strategy. 

View-Through Attribution: Final Thoughts

Because VTA doesn’t require you to measure clicks, you can use it to get a better idea of how your marketing efforts are working as a whole. Using this model, you assume that new website visits, purchases, and other actions within a set window of time are directly related to your recent ad campaigns.

This model gives you tools to measure channels that don’t give your audience the option to click through, including CTV, podcasts, traditional television ads, and offline marketing campaigns. It’s useful for businesses with longer sales cycles, helping them to optimize multi-channel ad campaigns. It’s also great for industries in which customers tend to seek out information from multiple sources before making a final decision. 

Although you can’t get the same level of accuracy as you can with click-through attribution, you get a better understanding of how your audience is finding you. With view-through attribution, you can optimize your marketing campaigns to target the right audiences using the channels that work best for your brand.