Top 10 Alternatives to Last Touch Attribution (LOL)


Recently there have been a number of articles and commissioned studies cautioning against click based attribution models. These studies generally show that there is growing evidence supporting conversion- and engagement-based campaign optimization metrics. I tend to agree with these studies. In fact, almost all deep-thinking industry types that I know agree that optimization metrics should be conversion and engagement based. The only possible exceptions are some PPC shops and display vendors who have wrapped their value proposition around a pricing model that arbitrages on the click.

Elephant In The Room

I believe the debate around the click is largely moot. The industry recognizes that the vast majority of consumer value related to online display campaigns will occur post impression, with or without a click. However, there is an elephant in the room that plagues our industry and sabotages genuine attempts to deliver good online marketing. This elephant is called “last touch”, and it is the most commonly deployed attribution model in use today.

The Logic Behind The Logic, I think?

Last touch attribution is the practice of pitting multiple vendors deploying multiple targeting strategies across single or multiple online channels and awarding full credit to the last vendor to serve an impression prior to the prospect converting. The flaws in this logic are numerous. Worse yet, last touch drives vendors to deploy unrealistic strategies that waste money and the brands that they are advertising. Because of this, enlightened brands are migrating rapidly to more effective attribution technologies and agencies that embrace them.

And The Beat Goes On…

Alas, with rapid growth in digital advertising, another year will go by with hundreds of agencies, trading desks and brands opting not to implement sound attribution technology. With that in mind I present 10 “strong” candidates for alternative attribution models:

Top 10 Alternatives to “LAST TOUCH” Attribution


The advertising vendor who serves the first impression gets full credit when the prospect converts. Why? Because this makes just as much sense as giving credit to the last vendor who touched the prospect. If you’re not first, you’re last.


The advertising vendor who serves the most impressions to the prospect before they convert is given full credit. Why? Because clearly this vendor delivered the most advertising per dollar invested.


The advertising vendor(s) who serve the first impression and the last impression will equally receive 50% of the credit. Why? Every conversion, like every great story must have a beginning and an end.


A recent conversion path study states that on average it takes 6.8 impressions to influence a conversion. Therefore, full credit will be given to the advertising vendor delivers crucial touch number 7.


The first advertising vendor to touch a prospect 7 times is given full credit. It takes 6.8 impressions to convert a prospect on average and, who doesn’t want the fastest possible conversions. The one who hits the client imposed user impression cap first wins! And they’re off…


If more than one vendor serves the converting prospect an impression, the opposing vendors cancel each other out. Full credit will be provided if AND when a vendor alone converts a prospect without another vendor tainting the prospect with one of their impressions. May the odds be ever in your favor!


Full credit for each conversion will be awarded to the company who consumed the largest total viewable area. This is, of course scientific and unbiased as it adds up the total impressions served to a prospect and multiplies the independent vendor impression quantity by the sum of ad creative circumferences displayed.


After a prospect converts, all advertising vendors who served an impression to this prospect will report on exactly which publisher domain the impression occurred. Full credit will be given to the advertising vendor whose ad appeared on the website most recognizable to the media buyer. Know your media buyer!


The second to the last advertising vendor to touch the prospect will receive full credit. This model is deployed because clearly the actual last touch was earned through technical trickery and expertise designed to beat last touch attribution models. The second to the last advertising vendor is the virtuous actual influencer and is rewarded as such. Good will prevail.


Full credit for each conversion will be divided equally ,100% between all advertising vendors who served an impression to each converting prospect. The more vendors who touched the prospect the lower the percentage everyone gets credit for. It’s just like winning lottery along with everyone else. Everyone knows ife isn’t fair…. And the lottery is a curse.

Other Options

Of course, there are alternatives to the options above. Online attribution companies such as Convertro, C3 Metrics, and ClearSaleing are finally giving brands deep insight into how various forms on advertising work together to deliver conversions. These types of companies enable brands to understand how a Google text ad, a well written blog, a timely email coupon, a relevant retargeted display ad and a late night TV commercial may have all played a role in producing a conversion.

The Simple Truth

Attribution technology often reveals that adjustments in one channel or vendor impact the performance of an alternative channel and/or vendor. The simple truth is that there is a better way to do attribu

tion than last touch, and the brands and agencies that embrace a more enlightened approach will be able to spend their advertising budget much more efficiently. The technology exists, it’s affordable and it makes sense.

About the Author's CRO James Moore

James Moore is the Chief Revenue Officer for, he has more than 15 years of experience in the digital space and has been involved in many leading companies who are paving new paths in digital space.