Connected TV 10 Min Read

SteelHouse Verified Visits Versus Last-Click Attribution

Written by Melissa Yap

Every performance marketers dream is to master the customer funnel that drives conversions – all at an efficient spend. In reality, this isn’t always the case, as marketers can often get lost on the way when figuring out at which point a customer was influenced to convert. For instance, say you’re in the market for a car and first see an ad on television which piques your interest but isn’t enough for you to pull the trigger. You might do some research online to find out more, and then decide to wait a bit to explore different options. During this time, you could be served a sponsored post while scrolling through on your Instagram feed, and then a display retargeting ad while you’re browsing the internet, after which you continue to deliberate your purchase and finally head into the dealership at your own leisure. 

From a marketer’s point of view, which channel was responsible for the purchase? Was it the television ad, Instagram post or retargeted ads right before the purchase was made? Therein lies the dilemma faced by many. In this blog post, we take a look at last-click attribution, the most commonly used attribution model, and see how it differs, and falls short from SteelHouse Verified Visits.

Last-Click Attribution

Last click attribution gives credit to the advertisement or asset that a customer last engaged with prior to making a purchase, and has become one of the standards for crafting digital marketing campaigns. Sounds simple enough, right? However, this misses the mark on so many levels and marketers could be doing themselves a disservice by applying this model to their campaigns. Here are a few reasons:

  • Assumes all campaigns are one-size-fits-all: Each brand is different and has their own sales cycles that vary in length depending on the time of year (i.e. seasonal purchases versus everyday items like groceries). Additionally, each stage of the funnel requires a different approach to branding, prospecting and targeting. Last-click accounts for bottom-of-the-funnel engagement right before a purchase is made, and ignores the rest – which are equally as important as advertisers should account for all of these stages, not just one. 
  • Detrimental to your campaigns and overall strategy: Following on from our point earlier – since last-click attribution turns a blind eye to the earlier stages of the customer funnel’s influence on a conversion, this can impact how marketers view their branding and awareness efforts. They may not see the value in such efforts, and focus only on the last assets, not realizing that: 
    1. There were multiple touchpoints beforehand that influenced the “last-click” asset. For example, when buying a pair of (expensive) shoes, you may have seen it on an influencer online or an e-newsletter calling out a sale and a mid-roll ad when watching a video. It’s a logical argument that all of these had an impact on the purchase overall.
    2. Important metrics related to brand awareness initiatives are overlooked. A blog post is a strong example of this. Blog posts are usually intended for SEO and content marketing purposes as a branding and awareness piece and are rarely a conversion driver. They are instead adopted by advertisers as a form of content marketing to inform and educate the consumer. Last-click attribution assumes this type of content is not important, which is dangerous for marketers who may omit this completely from their campaign efforts and lose leads, since they’re not directly driving results according to the last-click model.
    3. Last-click attribution is based on a single browser metric, where clicks are recorded actions that take place only in a browser on a specific device. Many devices nowadays do not support cookies or block them altogether. Clicks and their corresponding attribution in third party platforms only apply to a single browser interaction and doesn’t extend between devices.
    4. View-through sessions are largely ignored. View-through refers to a user viewing an ad but not clicking on it, which would not be able to be picked up through last-click attribution, but is a key piece of the puzzle, especially in the upper-funnel stage.
  • Advertisers using a suite of partners for their attribution needs: Many advertisers partner with various companies to assist them with the attribution models, which can get messy, since these partners have their own way of reporting metrics. Consolidating them into one standardized report can be a feat in itself, and drain time from a marketer’s day where they could otherwise focus on their marketing strategy. 

SteelHouse Verified Visits

Verified Visits is our proprietary technology that measures any user visits to your site following the guaranteed in-view display of your ads, in a window of time defined by you. That means you’ll know when someone sees your ad, and what device they use to convert. 

You’ll be able to determine when someone sees your ad, and what device they use to convert within their household. We recognized the importance of understanding all parts of the customer funnel, and therefore focus on the holistic journey of the different prospects that you are trying to convert, at the same time getting ahead of the suspicious reporting and ad practices at the publisher level. Basically – clicks can be easily faked. But conversions and revenue? It’s not so easy, and Verified Visits is designed with that in mind. 

  • We work with your customer and sales cycle (not the other way around): We understand that every sales cycle is different and that visit and conversion windows vary greatly, so we put the power back in the advertisers’ hands to choose a window of time that matches their needs. 
  • Only viewable ads are counted: A Verified Visit can only take place if an ad is considered viewable by IAB standards, and is then followed by a user action:
    • User clicks-through to visit the advertiser’s site.
    • User visits the advertiser’s site within a period set by the advertiser.  
    • If the user converts after doing the above, it is attributed to the campaign. 
  • Takes credit only where it is due, in true and transparent fashion: SteelHouse only takes credit for services where users engaged with your site after viewing an ad served by our platform – that session will not show up as a SteelHouse-driven one in your Google Analytics reporting.
    • For example, if there is another paid media channel (i.e. PPC) other than SteelHouse, that a user engages with right before they come to the site, SteelHouse won’t take credit for it in Google Analytics.
    • More than 60% of web traffic is now across multiple devices, and Verified Visits was designed to count visits across all devices. This means you could visit a website on your phone, then see an ad on your laptop and purchase on your iPad – all of which would be attributed to our platform and on Google Analytics. Furthermore, since SteelHouse Verified Visits tracks based on IP address rather than cookies, we don’t run into issues (i.e. blocking cookies on browsers) that would be common in a last-click attribution model.
  • Consolidate all of your attribution metrics within a single user interface: Viewing and reporting on attribution using different sources can now be a thing of the past, as this is all integrated within the SteelHouse platform. Advertisers are able to track Verified Visits in their own reporting and remove the limitations that exist with last-click attribution. 

SteelHouse Verified Visits was built to respect the customer funnel and all of the steps that one must take in order to convert, which last-click attribution models fail to recognize. We believe this attribution model gives performance marketers a more accurate glimpse into how, when and why users are interacting with their advertising and help them to make more informed decisions for their marketing strategy. 

When your customers travel down the conversion funnel, Verified Visits gives better insight into which point they decided to convert. It removes the mystery around a shopper converting if they didn’t click, and helps marketers track back to which touchpoints the shopper interacted with, or was exposed to, that could have influenced the decision to buy. 

So if you’re wondering who won this battle series entry, it’s pretty clear. Verified Visits gives a more accurate and holistic view of your attribution, and puts last-click to shame.