An Explanation of the Linear Attribution Model

Posted by Aaron Aders

November 15, 2012 at 6:30 AM

The linear attribution model is a balanced way of attributing online sales and goal achievement to specific online marketing channels. In this post, I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the linear attribution model. Please download our Multi-touch Attribution eBook if you want to know more about multi-touch attribution and the various data models.

The Linear attribution model divides the sale or goal value into equal parts and distributes this value among all customer marketing channel touch points that occurred prior to the sale or goal achievement. The figure below illustrates the value of an example sale being attributed across four online marketing channels.

Linear Attribution Model

Using this model comes with the natural assumption that every customer touch point is more or less equal in value. For example, a customer discovering your brand through organic search, signing up for an email, or clicking on a PPC ad all have equal value to your specific marketing campaign. This is the biggest constraint of the linear attribution model, but only if you place different values on different areas of your purchase funnel. This may be the case for a seasonal online marketing campaign that may place a premium on online marketing channels that close a sale quickly rather than introduce a new customer to the brand.

The linear attribution model is a great start for organizations that are new to multi-touch attribution tracking. It is also a useful benchmark when comparing multiple attribution models, which brings me to my final point; never blindly rely on just one attribution model. A greater depth of understanding behind online marketing channel performance can be reached by comparing multiple attribution models. You can find examples of implementing the linear attribution model and others in the Slingshot SEO Multi-touch Attribution eBook.

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