Web analytics expert Eric T. Peterson has gone on a new tip about campaign attribution, aka the ability to apportion credit for any campaign effectiveness to the channels, executions and partners that delivered it.

The core problem is that ‘last-click wins’ strategies, crediting whoever delivered the final click to a sale (most often a search term or an affiliate – or both) have become default. That clearly doesn’t give due credit to any of the other work that went into helping that customer choosing that product, searching on that term, and being persuaded enough to buy.

One story that throws light on the problem was told to me by an ex-colleague. Running a digital agency he was able to show a client that virtually all his sales were coming from paid search. That meant he was able to persuade him to give him more budget. The client thus took all the money he had been spending on radio advertising and gave it to search. Guess what happened? Without the brand cover that radio had helped to provide, less people searched for his brand and less people clicked on his results – sales took a big fat dive.

In digital channels, the same issue affects the work we do that isn’t entirely focused on the ‘the last click’. Any brand work that gets done, whether through sites, microsites, sponsorships, banners, social media and – indeed – search – is rarely given its due credit. This is no more pertinent than in tough times when all that work that is seemingly not directly delivering sales gets dropped.

So, what can be done? Well, it comes down to the effectiveness of campaign tracking. What advertisers require is technological systems that allow them to see their customers’ entire paths to conversion – the banners they saw, the MPUs they rolled over, the search results (both paid and natural) they clicked on etc. With all the information in one place, they can see the common factors in their users’ journeys and, not only plan their media spend better, but also attribute credit and commission payments much more fairly.

Those technologies are beginning to exist – now there needs to be commitment from advertisers and agencies to dilute the dominance of last-click channels and begin to give the credit that all the work we do online is due.