For a number of years I have actively challenged the last click wins model when it comes to attributing value to an online marketing campaign.

I have experimented with various methodologies and eventually settled on the one I believe to be the most beneficial to the particular brand or campaign I am
working on.

The greatest opposition to this changing traditional attribution methodology generally arrives from the performance marketing sector where reward has
traditionally always been paid on a last click basis
. Affiliates pride themselves in their ability to become the crucial last click before purchase through
innovative content and decisive calls to action.

However, I believe this is about to change.

The number of websites a customer visits in the path to purchase has grown significantly in recent years. Social networks are now used by the masses. Comparison sites have developed into established brands. Consumer review sites have become a fundamental part of the consumer journey whilst reward, voucher codes and cashbacks sites have come to the fore in recent months, undoubtedly driven by the current economic climate.

If a customer visits 10 or 20 different websites on their way to making an online purchase, is it right to reward the last one? Surely every site has had a role to play in the customer making that purchase and should be rewarded accordingly.

For a typical online purchase of a package holiday, a customer may use search engines, email, review sites, price comparisons and finally cashbacks before
converting with a chosen supplier.  In this instance, due to their intrinsic functionality, the cashback site will always be rewarded with the last click.

The websites that have invested resource into developing their comparison functionality, writing content or marketing their site, will not be rewarded for their part in the purchase journey.

Although this approach appears logical from the outset, there are many potential pitfalls. Believing that all sites involved in the purchase process have a positive role to play is a little naïve in the online space. Customers use the internet to gain a balanced, unbiased view on products and services.

Is it right to reward a review site that features poor reviews of your product? Would you pay a comparison site that rates a competitor service higher?

As a result of this growing trend, I fully expect traditional affiliates to begin to contest the last click methodology of attribution. Networks and advertisers must work together to develop a suitable solution that protects all steps in the online path to purchase.

Once advertisers have gained a better understanding on the role that each element plays, they will be able to flex rewards appropriately to ensure that affiliates are rewarded appropriately and sales are maximised as a result.