Chapter 4/12 from our Demystifying Digital Guide. 


What’s keeping marketers awake?
Understanding how digital media channels influence people’s behavior across the customer journey.

What’s the issue?
Digital attribution solutions often use unaccountable ‘black box’ algorithms and tools. Many of these are subscription, platform-based services that are also unable to account for the impact of other influences on behavior, including TV, other channels, and external factors.


1. What are the various influences on people’s behavior along their path to purchase?

2. Do I need to invest in a digital attribution product or service?

3. How can I track customer behavior across different channels and devices – mobile to tablet or laptop – and build a single customer view? What role does search play?

4. How can I understand the role of digital in the context of my overall marketing spend?

5. How should I optimize my media spend to make best use of all available media options?

What do our experts recommend marketers should do to address this?
Begin every attribution engagement with a discovery phase. This should assess and catalog the available marketing, tracking, and performance data and determine whether digital attribution is both possible and relevant for the client or campaign in question. Assuming it is – an assumption made almost by default by most digital attribution vendors – weight and structure the data so that it can properly explain the relative and absolute contribution of all inputs to customer behavior.

Best practice is a hybrid of traditional modeling and new attribution techniques, building ‘clear box’ attribution models that take due account of all channel inputs and external factors, such as product price and brand equity. Performance reporting should give a comprehensive and transparent account of what tracking data reveal about what is causing customers to take which action, at different stages of their journey. The data-trail analysis should also make recommendations on how to optimize performance across the customer journey – up-weighting inputs that deliver the desired results, down-weighting those that do not.

What are the benefits to marketers of taking this approach?

  • The hybrid model is the best-practice approach to understanding your customers’ journeys and optimizing performance, leading to a better return on investment.
  • It runs on accountable ‘clear box’ principles that aid understanding and action.

“Digital attribution is a buzz phrase that’s getting too much airtime right now. Traditional and digital media lines are blurred, and advertisers need a customized, totally transparent explanation of causation to understand today’s complex customer journeys. Digital attribution is often part of that. But so, too, is traditional modeling. The real trick is to marry different techniques to derive better solutions.”

Patrik Sahlin, Principal Consultant in Ebiquity’s Effectiveness practice

Our approach in summary
We provide a thorough understanding of how digital media influences customer behavior, considering all media, influences, and stimuli, and not focusing on digital media alone. Only a combination of ‘clear box’ digital attribution and traditional modeling analytics can do this.