Multi-touch Attribution: In-House or 3rd party?

The need for more effective attribution is clear then, but as a marketer, where do you start in terms of accessing a solution like this? Is it something that you can do a DIY job on building in-house, ostensibly saving some cash and avoiding having to work with anyone external? Or is it better to call on the expertise of a third-party attribution provider?

Go to the profile of Leah Eyler
Oct 31, 2018
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Attribution: What it is and why marketers need it

Contemporary marketers are responsible for more than just a business’ messaging and branding. Today’s CEOs increasingly expectmarketing to operate as a revenue-driving arm of firms, as a function that has a clear, measurable impact on their overall bottom line.

It is more important than ever before for marketers to be able to accurately measure ROI across the many marketing channels and platforms that constitute 2018’s on-and-offline landscape. They need to be able to assess what’s working and what’s not, but a significant proportion of them believe this is the hardest part of their job.

As such, many are turning to Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA) to better measure their marketing ROI. MTA uses a data-driven approach to attribute fractional values to each touchpoint along customers’ paths to conversions. It allows marketers to see, at a granular level, the exact contribution that each of their channels has made toward each conversion; an invaluable set of insights for understanding their marketing ROI.

This contrasts with rule-based attribution models such as ‘last click’, which arbitrarily attribute conversions to certain channels based on fixed rules, denying marketers visibility of the true contribution each of the channels they are spending on has made toward revenue. Marketers are realising that rule-based models do not provide them with good enough information- and that better data leads to better decisions.

The need for more effective attribution is clear then, but as a marketer, where do you start in terms of accessing a solution like this? Is it something that you can do a DIY job on building in-house, ostensibly saving some cash and avoiding having to work with anyone external? Or is it better to call on the expertise of a third-party attribution provider?

Fospha have written a short guide covering the best approach for different types of business.

In-house solutions: DIY Attribution

For certain businesses, in particular those at the extreme ends of the spectrum of size, an in-house attribution approach makes sense.

Small businesses at the beginning of their lifecycle will generally not have developed the spending clout in their marketing efforts to make enlisting a third-party provider worthwhile right away. Typically, those spending less than approximately £20k per month on their marketing would be best to start with Google Analytics and other free platforms, working with (rule-based) insights generated at no cost.

This data, and the type of insights a marketer can glean in-house from working with these platforms is valuable for a small, growing marketing department to make their decisions with. At this stage, a third-party would likely be prohibitive in terms of cost relative to the wider marketing budget, and there is also the volume of data being low as a potential consideration. Once a business in this position begins to scale up, it would be in a position to look to bring in the expertise of a third party.

On the other end of the spectrum, certain enterprise-level and extremely large businesses may be best suited to developing part, or even all, of their attribution solution in-house. Organizations of this size and scale may have an extensive data science team, who are able to build a solution of their own from the ground up. Businesses spending over £1,000,000 a month on marketing may be able to tackle this issue on their own, over a long enough period of time. That said, even in this case it is worth working with a third-party provider who can lend their experience toward helping build an in-house solution, avoiding the pitfalls of wasted time and money that can come with a lack of experience of this complex process .

Third-party solutions: Working with a dedicated attribution provider

For the vast majority of businesses, working with a third-party provider is the best approach to accessing an attribution solution.

Developing a solution in-house from scratch can be an extremely costly and time-consuming process, sometimes spanning years, and offering no concrete prospects of success. Whilst not impossible, it is generally cheaper and more reliable to engage the expertise of a tried-and-tested provider. Companies like Fospha offer marketers a flexible, powerful solution that through agile setup methods and years of experience can be up and running 30 days into a partnership with a client. Experienced engineers and data scientists are also on hand to make the adoption of a third-party solution like this as smooth as possible.

In terms of the cost of a third-party attribution solution, James Libor justified his use of attribution at Virgin Holidays in the following way:

Budget is often seen as a big blockage, but the way I look at is it’s 1% of your budget to tell you what the other 99% is doing. With that perspective the cost doesn’t seem significant.’

Spending a tiny fraction of a marketing budget in order to be able to accurately measure the success of the rest of the spend makes sense, especially in a world where marketers are under pressure to demonstrate their contribution toward ROI.


About Fospha

Fospha provides its clients with an accessible, centralised, and actionable data platform. Our solution can seamlessly integrate disparate performance data siloes and present clients with a comprehensive – and most importantly – accurate picture of their marketing performance. By combining MTA with an extensive list of different datasets, Fospha provides a single interface where clients can understand how buyers are interacting with their brand, understand where they’re getting the best return on investment, and optimise their marketing strategy accordingly.

Go to the profile of Leah Eyler

Leah Eyler

Head of US Growth, Fospha

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