What is multi-touch attribution?

Glossary Multi-touch attribution

The definition of multi-touch attribution

Multi-touch attribution, also known as multi-channel attribution, determines the value of every touch point on the way to a conversion. Rather than giving all the credit to one ad, multi-touch attribution gives credit to every advertising channel interacted with on the customer journey.

Marketers understand that the user journey isn’t as simple as seeing an ad, clicking and then installing. It often takes multiple touchpoints before the user conversion. Despite this, the current standard in attribution modeling is to use Last Click Attribution. This means that the last ad the user clicked on gets 100% of the credit, and consequent payment. Other methods include First Click Attribution and View-Through Attribution. To learn more about each attribution model and what they have to offer, take a look at this blog post.


Even if a marketer is using an alternative model for payment, such as Last Click Attribution, they can still hypothetically map out the complexities of the user journey by ingesting raw data into their BI system. However, this is only possible if the company’s BI system is capable of managing large amounts of data.

Why is multi-touch attribution important?

Multi-touch attribution is important in the mobile advertising space for a number of reasons. Many marketers believe that Multi-Touch Attribution better reflects the way users generally interact with advertising. While first touch or last touch assigns all the credit to an install to one particular moment, multi-touch attribution takes the approach that a user is likely to view multiple ads in multiple different places before hitting the download button.

Multi-Touch Attribution also ensures that credit is apportioned to publishers across the ecosystem. By rewarding multiple channels for their role in securing the install instead of simply paying one partner, this attribution model helps distribute advertising budget in a fairer way.

In addition to this, Multi-touch attribution informs marketers of what really brings users to their app, helping advertisers identify where value is being generated across their consumer journeys. Smaller publishers who might struggle to get enough credit in blunter attribution models are more likely to be spotted by companies using multi-touch approaches, helping an advertiser to determine value in the long run.

Why isn’t multi-touch attribution the industry standard?

A counter argument to the benefits of Multi-Touch Attribution is that this attribution modeling is susceptible to Click Spam (when fraudsters execute fakes clicks for monetary gain). Without mathematical models that can verify the impact an engagement had on the user, there’s nothing to stop fraudsters from generating fake clicks that appear to have had partial influence on that conversion. Fraudsters can simply generate fake clicks and take their cut as they please.

Adjust and multi-touch attribution

While mobile measurement partners (including Adjust) use Last Click Attribution, we do offer Adjust Multi-Touch. This gives clients access to all the touchpoints they need to map the user journey, and is available as a separate package. To learn more about Adjust Multi-Touch, take a look at our announcement for the feature.

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