Adobe Wants to Bridge the Gap Between First- and Last-Touch Attribution

Says its new tool better allocates credit en route to conversion

Adobe is releasing a new attribution tool. Adobe
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The customer journey stopped looking like a funnel long ago, but whether the best updated metaphor is a solar system or a crazy straw remains to be seen.

That is to say customer journeys are increasingly complicated. So is tracking them. And that, in short, is why Adobe has added the Attribution IQ tool to Adobe Analytics Cloud, it announced on Monday at the Cannes Lions festival in France.

Adobe said Attribution IQ removes reliance on first-touch (like a search ad or initial website visit) and last-touch (conversion) attribution, so users better understand overall consumer behavior.

Trevor Paulsen, senior product manager at Adobe Analytics, said first and last touch are limited because they “[ignore] all of the relationships that may have happened between those two things—between the very first and very last [interaction].”

Attribution IQ includes 10 models that capture the ways in which consumers are influenced by brands, giving credit to the impact of channels like social, mobile, websites and direct mail, and showing how this differs among consumers.

Per Paulsen, Attribution IQ gives users a much better picture of the customer’s entire journey and includes multiple attribution models that allow them to choose how much credit to give to what channels. For example, users who want to give equal credit to email, search and display would choose a linear model. Those who want to give credit to all channels but emphasize first and last would choose the U-shaped model. Users will also have the ability to create their own models.

“A big brand with a product with a long consideration cycle like a car or furniture … usually take a long time to decide to buy, so those interstitial experiences become very important,” Paulsen said. “Think about the linear model—it gives fair credit all along the way. Impulse purchases don’t have long consideration cycles [so the J-shaped model makes sense]. Most of the credit goes to an ad that occurred closest to the time I converted.”

Paulsen said this allows customers to tap into the view that is best suited to their business models—or even to elect to use different models for different internal teams.

Adobe said brands are under increasing pressure to show marketing spend is made in the right places, but deciding the right mix is often done “with blinders on.”

Adobe said Attribution IQ is a way for users to move beyond vanity metrics and to make more informed decisions about planning and ad spend. This, in turn, can affect budget allocation among marketing teams.

“It’s kind of like a basketball game,” Paulsen said. “A player inbounds the ball, and a player makes the shot. If you’re just looking at the first and last [events], you lose all the intricate [moments] between when the ball came into play and making the shot. You need to know how … the players are working together.”

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.