Do We Need Attribution in Performance Marketing?

Lisa Picarille of the Performance Marketing Association has been putting together a well written series on the subject of Attribution in performance marketing.

Attribution is the science of determining which sales and marketing channels played a role in a sale or conversion, and from there business rules can be applied depending on the goals of the company doing the measuring.

In Performance Marketing, any conversation around attribution generally goes toward splitting commissions, or otherwise deviating away from the tried and true "last click wins" method of payment.  

This is a big deal because in Performance Marketing, there is a lot of perceived conflict:

  • Coupon affiliates getting the sale at the end thanks to an empty coupon code field in the shopping cart
  • Loyalty publishers getting the sale at the end thanks to technology solutions like browser plugins
  • Search marketers, both internal and external, drive traffic and lose credit -- and money -- to the other channels
  • Content publishers warm up the prospect with strong and convincing sales copy earlier in the sales process and lose out to all of the above.

Splitting payment may not be important or even necessary.  A good attribution solution starts by giving merchant valuable insight into what their channels are doing. It first answers the questions: Is there conflict and overlap in affiliate channels? Are some affiliate channels getting too much credit and others not enough?  Without the answers to these questions, marketers, both at the merchant and affiliate sides are driving blind.

To me, the biggest impact that attribution can have on the performance marketing industry is to provide some transparency and tell us finally if there is a real channel conflict problem in the space. The first step to solving a perceived problem is to find out if it is real.  Then measure and understand it in order to best solve it.

Here are parts 1 through 5 of Lisa's series on attribution, in an easy to navigate list:

Scott Jangro is the co-founder of Shareist, a web developer, and a veteran in the online marketing industry. Shareist is a new content marketing platform. This post is published using Shareist. For more information on Shareist, visit and follow us on twitter: @shareist.

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