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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.

Paul Cook

Published 27 April, 2009 by Paul Cook

Paul Cook, the founder of RedEye and TagMan, is a contributor to Econsultancy.  

28 more posts from this author

Comments (5)


Rob Jackson

This topic is definitely a focus within our agency and we are currently trialling several differnt technologies that offer conversion attribution.

It is one of the most exciting emerging technologies within digital marketing and certainly one that has not been standardised.

The difficulty is that all of the current available solutions need an element of human input with the variables that affect the results. This means a display agency setting up a conversion attribution tool could potentially make it's banner ads appear like they are more successful than they are.

over 7 years ago

Stu Bowker

Stu Bowker, Web Analyst at TUI Group

We too are in the process of implementing contribution data to client analytics & reports rather than simply relying on last click wins.

The early test results are phenominal, often we're finding PPC ROI doubling even tripling when compared to last click wins. In actual fact the ROI has always been that high, it's just that we were never able to see that data.

PPC optimising is a whole new ball game now. We're in the position to better optimise client accounts by seeing exactly what's contributes to a sale/conversion.

This could be the future of affiliate marketing too, letting all parties involved earn a fair share of the commission.

over 7 years ago

Seth Richardson

Seth Richardson, CEO at DC StormSmall Business Multi-user

The ability to look at sales from various different perspectives is essential in optimising campaigns.

We conducted research in Dec 08 and found that  70% of all sales had more than 1 traffic source (click) contributing to the sale/conversion. Moreover the average number of clicks per sale was 3.36 (Source: DC Storm Dec 2008) meaning that if you used last click wins as a reporting method 70% of contributing traffic sources would be ignored.

Brand term or navigational searches account for such a high proportion of last click sales that I have no idea how marketers can optimise campaigns effectively using this method alone.

over 7 years ago


Authority Networker

In general people dislike being "sold". People want the freedom to choose and feel comfortable when purchasing any product or service. A new internet network marketing concept called attraction marketing is getting a whole lot more attention and deals with that. One primary focus of the attraction marketing formula is developing personal relationships with existing clients and become a person of value, so that they have the underlying feeling of attraction and want to come back for more. The more helpful and valuable your information is the greater the chance those customers will convert into buyers. Attraction marketing is the most natural and pleasurable way to grow a business. It takes time and knowledge to make attraction marketing work and become an authority networker, but it is worth the trouble.

over 7 years ago

Chris Robson

Chris Robson, CEO at You Wish Ltd

What information sources exist on genuine cost per lead pricing and where might i find these?



over 7 years ago

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