Move over, last click: Multi-touch attribution gives better insight

Woman looking at a jacket

Today’s shoppers pass through many phases before deciding what to buy. But when it comes to online advertising, most advertisers only measure the last click right before a purchase. That can undervalue platforms like Pinterest that start influencing shoppers’ decisions much earlier in the shopping process. When Neustar MarketShare ran a MTA study for Pinterest ads, their model showed that Pinterest deserved 30% more credit than a standard last click model would have reported.

Last touch is akin to giving a retail associate full credit for selling a designer handbag, even though other inputs shaped the shopper’s decision. The shopper probably saw ads, did some research and maybe even consulted with friends—the sales clerk simply gave a final push.

MTA measures attribution more accurately

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) helps brands evaluate campaigns across multiple platforms, throughout the entire path to purchase. That means advertisers get clearer insight into what’s driving sales, regardless of whether it happened at the first moment of inspiration, or right before someone decided to buy. 

“Brands need an accurate read on their advertising impact, beyond traditional engagements like last touch impressions and clicks,” said Julie Fleischer, Vice President of Marketing Solutions at measurement firm Neustar. “The only way to effectively shepherd your media investment is to measure actual performance and attribution, so marketers can gauge channel impact, customer journey interactions and brand and sales drivers.”

Neustar study shows Pinterest is a top early touch influence

MTA is especially important for platforms that reach people across the path to purchase. Since people use Pinterest all the way from inspiration to action, it’s more accurate to measure Pinterest with models that account for more than last click attribution. Marketers need to look at influence across the entire shopping process. When Neustar MarketShare ran an MTA study for Pinterest ads, their model showed that Pinterest deserved 30% more credit than a standard last click model would have reported.

Neustar’s findings also pointed to Pinterest as an early touch platform. Of course, every shopper uses platforms differently, depending on needs and preferences. But when Neustar looked at their data, it was clear that people are more likely to use Pinterest earlier in their shopping process, rather than later. When Neustar compared Pinterest to other platforms, Pinterest had a higher ratio of first touch scenarios compared to last touch scenarios, and the highest ratio relative to other platforms.

Image of Pinterest performance

As a whole, Pinterest performed better than other platforms in the study, including search, social, display and affiliate. Pinterest ads delivered a remarkable 28:1 return on ad spend (ROAS), and drove 30% more incremental sales per impression than the next best channel.

The study also showed that people who saw ads on Pinterest bought more, and converted faster. Pinners had a 40% larger basket spend than people who only saw ads on other platforms. They also had the shortest time to conversion of any digital channel analyzed in the study.

Neustar’s MTA results show that early engagement is not only measurable, but highly effective—particularly on Pinterest. And since 40% of people in the study were only reached on Pinterest, it’s clear there is a unique opportunity to reach new audiences on the platform.

MTA measures comprehensively: first touch trumps last click

Neustar’s MTA study did a lot more than validate Pinterest’s effectiveness. It also brought into focus the weakness of using only last click to measure campaigns across the industry.

MTA can provide advertisers a more accurate look at measurement, as well as opportunities to optimize their media mix and improve investments. “Our multi-touch attribution solution helps marketers identify ROAS across discrete granular activities and actions,” said Fleischer. “Smart Pinterest marketers should seek advanced measurement models to understand channel impact and most effectively allocate marketing investments.”

—Damola Abiola, currently saving ideas to 2 weeks in Japan