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Web Attribution

What is Web Attribution?

The process of identifying and tracking the source of the traffic on your website along with user actions that lead to conversions, is called website attribution or user attribution.

It allows you to optimize your marketing campaigns by helping you understand which marketing channels, ad campaigns and strategies are working the best to drive conversions.

This includes tracking search engines, social media, email marketing, etc to find out the origin of the traffic on your website and actions, such as clicks, that lead to conversions.

Web Attribution vs. Mobile Attribution

Mobile attribution and website attribution both share the same goal, to identify source of traffic and conversions. Although there are some key differences that are critical for affiliate advertisers to understand.

Tracking Methods:

  • Website Attribution:

Track cookies and pixels to keep a tab on website traffic and their actions.

  • Mobile Attribution:

Track app installs with mobile device IDs, in-app actions and other user behaviors.

Data Collection:

  • Website Attribution:

Data from users’ browser to track clicks and conversions.

  • Mobile Attribution:

Track clicks and conversions using data from a user’s device using information including location, device type and app usage.

How Does Web Attribution Work? 

To understand user attribution, let’s break down the process:

Web SDK: 

A small piece of code called a web SDK is placed on a website. This code collects information about user behavior, including where they came from before visiting your site.


The data about where users came from is called a referrer. This could include a search engine, social media platform or any other website. Referrers can be classified as 2 distinct categories: paid (advertising) or unpaid (organic search).

User Identification: 

To track a user across different website visits, web attribution uses either a cookie or a persistent customer user ID (CUID). This helps connect the dots in a user’s journey.

Setting Up Web Attribution

Before tracking and attributing web traffic, businesses need to configure the following:

Cookie-Based Measurement: 

Cookies are small text files stored on a user’s computer. They help identify returning visitors and track their behavior.

Attribution Links: 

These are special links that contain information about the marketing campaign or source. When a user clicks on an attribution link, the ad attribution system can track where the user came from.

Measurement Parameters: 

These are specific pieces of data that businesses want to collect about each touchpoint in a user’s journey.

The Attribution Model

Once the data is collected, an attribution model determines which marketing touchpoint gets credit for the conversion.The most common model is last-click attribution, which gives credit to the last interaction a user had with the business before converting.

Key Components of User Attribution

  • Attributed Events: 

Web attribution can track various user actions, such as website visits, lead generation, or purchases.

  • Media Types: 

All types of online marketing channels can be attributed, including search, social media, email, and display advertising.

  • Organic Traffic: 

Visits to a website without clicking on a specific link are considered direct traffic.

  • Deterministic Identifiers: 

Cookies are the primary method for identifying users on the web.

  • Measurement Tools: 

Ad attribution uses pixels and UTM parameters (tracking codes) to collect data.

  • Attribution Window: 

This defines the timeframe for considering touchpoints as influencing a conversion.

  • Attribution Winner: 

The marketing touchpoint that receives credit for the conversion based on the chosen attribution model.

By understanding these components and how they work together, businesses can effectively measure the impact of their web marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions to improve performance.

Attribution Models​​

There are two major web and ad attribution models: Single Touch Models and Multi Touch Models.

Single Touch Attribution Models-

  • First Interaction Attribution:

With this model, all the credit for a conversion is attributed to the very first touchpoint of a user with a website, such as clicks or views on an ad.

  • Last Touch Attribution:

This model assigns 100% credit to the last point of user interaction before a conversion, such as clicking a CTA (buy now, order now, etc).

  • Last Non-Direct Click Attribution:

This model is similar to the last touch attribution model, the only difference being, it assigns the credit for conversion to the last touch excluding direct traffic. This means that it focuses on the last marketing channel that the user interacted with before conversion.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models-

  • Linear Attribution:

With this model, the credit is distributed equally among all the touch points that have been involved throughout the user journey.

  • Time Decay Attribution:

This model recognizes that the more recent an interaction is the more likely it is to have a stronger influence on the user. This is why it attributes much more weightage to the touchpoints that are closer to the conversion than the rest.

  • Position-Based Attribution:

This model distributes credit equally among the first and the final touch points (40% each). This credit % is higher than the combined credit % for the middle touchpoints.

How Do You Improve Website Attribution?

  • Attribution Window:

Website attribution window tracks how long someone’s journey might last from the first time they see something about your website (like an ad) to when they actually take an action (like buy a product).

If the window is too short, it might give all the credit to the first activity they interacted with, even if something else later on really convinced them.

On the other hand, if the window is too long, it might miss the most recent activity that actually pushed them to take action.

By understanding how long it typically takes your visitors to make decisions, you can set the window to capture the most important parts of users’ journey.

  • Cross-Device Use:

Today, people use different kinds of devices including phones, laptops, tablets, etc to browse the web.

This can make attribution tricky because someone might start browsing on their phone but then actually buy something on their computer later.

To get a clearer picture, there are tools that can track users across different devices, so you can see the whole story, even if it happens on different screens.

  • Offline Factors:

User attribution focuses on what happens online, but sometimes things in the offline world can also influence people’s decisions.

Maybe a friend mentioned your website, or they saw your product in a store before visiting your site.

While these factors are difficult to be directly tracked, keeping these things in mind while creating your marketing and ads campaign can prove to be quite useful.

Impact of Cookie Deprecation on Web Attribution

Third party cookie depreciation is significantly impacting web attribution. Here is a list we’ve compiled of the challenges you may be faced with the inevitable fall of cookies and the potential solutions.


  • Reduced Data Accuracy:

It becomes a lot harder to track user behavior across different websites without third-party cookies. This, in turn, makes it difficult to determine which marketing channels  contribute most to conversions.

  • Difficulty in Measuring Cross-Device Journeys:

Since cookies are device-specific, tracking users across different devices becomes more complex.

  • Changes in Attribution Models:

Traditional last-click attribution models will become less reliable.

Potential Solutions

  • First-Party Data:

It is crucial to collect and utilize first-party data which is basically information directly collected from customers. This includes email addresses, purchase history, website behavior, app usage, etc.

  • Privacy-Centric Identifiers:

Alternative identifiers like hashed emails, probabilistic matching, or device fingerprinting can help track users all while respecting their privacy.

  • Server-Side Tracking:

Shifting tracking to the server side can improve data privacy and accuracy a lot more.

  • Attribution Modeling:

Adopting more advanced attribution models that consider multiple touchpoints and analyze their impact on conversions is also an important step.

  • Machine Learning:

You can analyze complex data patterns and understand customer behavior without depending heavily on cookies with machine learning algorithms.

  • Privacy-Focused Technologies:

Incorporating technologies like Google’s Privacy Sandbox and other industry initiatives to develop solutions that prioritize privacy for advertising.

Why is Website Attribution so Important for Affiliate Marketers and Advertisers?

  • Valuable User Insights:

User attribution helps affiliate marketers understand and track customer journeys and behavior patterns. It is also really important to realize what your customers’ preferences actually are.

  • Improved Conversion Rate:

By understanding and optimizing all user touchpoints you can improve the conversion rate to a large extent.

  • Streamlined Budget Allocation:

Understand which channels work the best for you and allocate your budget accordingly, improving overall ROI.

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