Media Attribution: How to Start Optimizing Your Media Allocations

email-ppc-retargeting-display-videoYou’ve read about attribution modeling. Maybe your agency has even provided a POV on the matter. You’re sold. You’re ready to begin seeing the “true value of media performance” and get the most out of your digital budget.

But now, you’re stuck. You need to know how to get this boulder moving… And fast. Your boss expects results this quarter! Now what?

Defining Your Goals & Understanding Attribution

Attribution allows marketers to better understand upstream user-actions (ad views and clicks) and its impact on the final goal action (download, sale, lead form etc.).

Attribution by itself won’t make your media perform better. It won’t improve your conversion rates.

What attribution will do is illustrate where your dollars are used most effectively, so that through media allocation optimization, your digital spend becomes more effective. Attribution is the key to unlocking successful cross-channel optimizations of media spend in order to increase back-end performance. It’s not the last step to performance improvement, it’s the first step.

Centralized Management of Your Online Media Channels

When building out attribution, it’s important to ensure that all digital channels are centrally managed through a single platform. There are three primary types of platforms:

  • Analytics Platform such as Omniture or Coremetrics.
  • Ad Servers such as DoubleClick, Atlas and Mediaplex.
  • Attribution Platforms such as ClearSaleing, Encore Metrics and C3 Metrics.

Start Tracking Touches Prior to Each Conversion

This step is often where marketers get bogged down, because there are many models from which to choose, including first or last click, even distribution, or “time decay” (the closer to the conversion event the touch happens, the greater the attribution share it receives). Trying to choose the right model and the right share paralyzes many marketers from moving forward.

What About Multiple Touches?

However, there is an important interim step prior to determining the share percentages which allows you to get moving faster: to determine how many conversions receive multiple touches, and the percentage of total conversions which are single touch, dual touch, tri-touch and so-forth.

Once this report is pulled, you can sort the report by number of touches. This is important, because the 80/20 rule applies here. You will find that a majority of your conversions come from a specific number of touches.

For example, you may find that 70 percent of your conversions have either two, three or four touches. It is these buckets where you want to dig deeper into media placements, as this is where the bulk of you media optimization opportunity lies.

Review the Placements

Now, remembering the goal is optimizing your media allocations, review the placements which are appearing in each of the two, three, and four touch conversions, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which placements appear most frequently?
  • Which placements have the most touches per impression?
  • Which placements have the lowest cost per touch?

Follow these steps and you will begin to see media placements bubble to the top of the list, and these become your “performing placements” that you will want to expand usage of, at the expense of other placements that don’t appear as touches.


Now you’ve begun to use attribution to further your media allocation optimization without the added pain of determining the exact share per placement. You’ve moved the boulder!

Related reading

siddharth taparia SAP on embarking on search transformation projects
How to improve SEO using data science
Four tools your business needs for better metric reporting
steps to deliver better technical seo to your clients