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Five Charts: The State of Attribution

Despite how much marketers prioritize attribution, many gaps in their efforts remain.

Crediting a purchase is a key part of many marketing campaigns. But data quality issues, the complexity of cross-device campaigns and marketers’ reliance on outdated attribution models have hindered them from more accurately linking a specific piece of marketing to sales.

In an April 2018 survey of 2,274 performance marketers in the UK and US by Tune and Acceleration Partners, first-click and multi-touch attribution were used by a similar number of respondents. Together, first- and last-click models were used by nearly seven in 10 respondents.

Two-fifths of the 237 business-to-business marketing professionals worldwide that Adweek Branded and Dun & Bradstreet polled in September 2018 said they use multichannel attribution. An additional 44% of respondents said they planned to implement multichannel attribution within the next year or two.

More than half of the 468 senior marketing leaders worldwide surveyed by Kantar in August 2018 said that multi-touch attribution is one of the biggest gaps in their marketing research. No other marketing research tool—including conversions, brand effectiveness and media measurement—was perceived to have as many gaps.

Some marketers are taking more control over their attribution by bringing it in-house. Among the 119 media decision-makers from US brands that Advertiser Perceptions and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) surveyed in April 2018, return on investment attribution was the programmatic initiative most frequently brought in-house. Nearly half of the respondents said they in-housed attribution.

Some marketing channels are easier than others for assigning attribution. In a June 2018 survey of 226 worldwide marketers and research subscribers by Ascend2, content marketing was considered the most difficult channel to analyze for attribution. Email marketing attribution was rated as the easiest.