What is attribution modeling?

Glossary Attribution modeling

The definition of attribution modeling

Attribution modeling is the method advertisers use to determine the value of different channels on their marketing efforts. By assigning value for a pre-arranged advertising interaction to one or more publisher, attribution modeling helps advertisers determine which channels provide the most benefit to their marketing campaign.

What types of attribution models are there?

With multiple touchpoints across the customer journey, there are a number of different ways an advertiser can attribute users:


  • First Touch Attribution: This model awards credit for an advertising interaction to the first point of contact a user has with a campaign.
  • Last Touch Attribution: This model awards credit for an advertising interaction to the final point of contact a user has with a campaign.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution: This model assigns varying weights to different traffic sources for an advertising interaction, leading to multiple channels benefitting when a user interacts with a campaign.
  • View-Through Attribution: This model attributes specific impressions to installs, attributing value delivered by campaigns to ads that don’t directly lead to an install, but feature along the conversion path.

First and last click attribution are single source attribution methods, meaning a conversion is attributed to the user’s first or final click. So, if the final click before conversion was on a Google ad, Google receives 100% of the credit. In contrast to this methodology, multi-touch attribution aims to acknowledge every touchpoint that influenced a user to install (however, it’s also important to understand MTA’s vulnerability to click spam).

Attribution models can contain elements taken from all four of the methods listed above. For example, a multi-touch attribution model might assign greater weight to the final point of contact. This all depends on what an advertiser decides to set up as their attribution model.

Why is attribution modeling important?

Attribution modeling is a key component of mobile measurement. It is hugely important because it is the way advertisers determine which of their traffic sources are delivering value (and which are the best performing). Without an attribution model in place, an advertiser can’t know where traffic is coming from, as well as in what quantity, which sources are delivering it, how much is needed to pay for it and whether it delivers a return in the long run. But with modeling in place, advertisers can properly assign credit (and responsibility) to users from different channels. This helps the advertiser easily analyze the quality of incoming traffic and make decisions about using those channels in the future.

Attribution modeling and Adjust

Adjust eases the challenge of attribution modeling by doing it on behalf of advertisers.

Our attribution offering helps advertisers track traffic as it enters an application – identifying when a user installs, which source they’ve come from and the creative that convinced them to install. We do this through the use of a last touch attribution model (the current industry standard for mobile measurement).

Adjust also offers an opt-in impression attribution model, which takes into account the difference between impressions and clicks.

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