Last-touch attribution

Last-touch attribution is a marketing attribution model that gives all the credit for a conversion to the final touchpoint the user engaged with.

What is last-touch attribution?

What is last-touch attribution?

Marketing attribution helps you understand how specific touchpoints contribute to a conversion (the user taking a desired action). There are various different models to determine this, but last-touch (or last-click) attribution is one where all the credit is given to the final marketing channel the user engaged with before converting. 

It’s like a game of soccer. After a string of several passes and dribbles, eventually one player shoots the ball and scores. Even when one player might’ve dribbled half the field leading up to the goal, the last player to touch the ball gets the credit for the goal.

How does last-touch attribution differ from other attribution models?

The user journey to downloading an app is rarely straightforward – it can be a winding road of watching a TV ad, seeing a billboard, then engaging with multiple social media posts before installing the app.

Different attribution models give credit to different points along that journey. While last-touch keeps things simple, focusing on only the final interaction, other models have more complex weighting systems to provide a fuller picture.

Whichever model you use, the aim is to understand how your marketing touchpoints contribute to driving conversions. That enables you to allocate resources to the best-performing channels, improving campaign performance and ROI.

Single-touch vs multi-touch attribution 

Single-touch attribution models assign full credit to one touchpoint along the user journey – typically the first or the last touch. 

Multi-touch attribution models are a lot more complicated, assigning different weights to different touchpoints along the journey. Here are the different attribution models and how they stack up against last touch attribution.

First touch 

Last touch attribution vs. first touch

Also known as first interaction or first click, first-touch attribution gives full credit to the very first touchpoint the customer engages with. This single-touch attribution model helps measure the effectiveness of top-of-funnel campaigns to see how many new leads are entering the marketing pipeline.


Last touch attribution vs. linear

Linear attribution is a multi-touch attribution model that assigns equal weight to every touchpoint along the customer journey. A social media post, TV ad, and remarketing ad would all be given the same credit.

Time decay

Last touch attribution vs. time decay

Time decay is a multi-touch attribution model that gives more weight to touchpoints closer to the time of conversion. If a purchase cycle takes 30 days, 10% credit will be given to the first few days, 30% to the following two weeks, and 60% for the final week.


Last touch attribution vs. u-shaped

U-shaped attribution is a multi-touch attribution model that assigns more weight to first and last touchpoints. Every touchpoint in between gets equal credit. The most common distribution is 40% to the first and last touchpoints respectively, and 20% shared across the middle interactions.


Last touch attribution vs. W-shaped

W-shaped attribution is a multi-touch attribution model that assigns the most credit to three touchpoints in the customer journey: first touchpoint, intermediate touchpoint (the one that is most impactful in the consideration and decision stages), and the final touchpoint. 

Advantages of last-touch attribution 

Last touch attribution advantages

Last-touch attribution is the easiest model to understand and implement. Giving 100% credit to the final touchpoint makes it easy for marketers to laser in on the channels that work best. 

This model looks at the bottom of the funnel to see what’s directly contributing to the conversion, which is effective when evaluating the performance of marketing campaigns with shorter sales cycles. 

Using last-touch attribution also reduces the risk of errors, as it’s so easy to measure. Sales teams tend to be more aligned with last touch as they’re more likely to be contributing to this part of the funnel.

Disadvantages of last-touch attribution 

Simplicity also comes with drawbacks, the main one being that last-touch attribution doesn’t look at the full user journey. As mentioned above, the path from a lead to becoming a customer can include touchpoints across multiple marketing channels – from word of mouth, to social media, and CTV advertising – that all contribute in their own way.

Giving 100% credit to only the last touch can be misleading. Early touchpoints may have more impact than expected, and the lack of depth with last-touch attribution overlooks important variables when looking at the full picture. This can lead to short-term thinking, and overemphasize marketing efforts that may be working now while neglecting the long-term benefits of others.

Who should use last-touch attribution?

Last-touch attribution is particularly effective for high-volume transactions with short sales cycles. This means you’re targeting a large audience that makes purchase decisions quickly. 

Last-touch is also effective if you don’t have the resources to properly set up more complicated attribution models. Complex models like time decay or W-shaped attribution take in-house data scientists and developers to ensure the full marketing funnel is measured accurately. While last-touch may not be the most effective, a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

The future of last-touch attribution

The future of last touch attribution

With the growing complexities of data privacy regulations, marketing attribution needs to continually adapt and innovate. Last-touch attribution may not be perfect, but its simplicity likely means it’s here to stay — even as alternative solutions emerge. 

One of these solutions is likely to be artificial intelligence (AI). The ability to process large volumes of data and connect the dots of user behavior mean AI can accurately predict who is more likely to convert. Predictive analytics and modeling can be dynamically adjusted in real-time, attributing different weights depending on the individual user journey. 

Today, last-touch attribution is popular with connected TV (CTV). Whereas traditional TV advertisers had to rely on probabilistic attribution based on Nielsen data, CTV advertisers can send viewers directly to a website or app. This gives them more detailed data and makes last-touch attribution a simple but effective model.

Key takeaways 

  • Last-touch attribution is the marketing attribution model that credits 100% of a conversion to the final touchpoint the user engaged with. 
  • Unlike more complex multi-touch attribution models, last-touch is simple to set up and easy to understand, making it ideal for marketers focused on channels contributing directly to conversions. This is best for businesses with shorter sales cycles, and those that don’t have the resources for complex measurement.
  • The downside of last-touch is that it overlooks the full customer journey, potentially misleading marketers to ignore the positive influence of other marketing touchpoints. Oversimplification can result in missing long-term opportunities.
  • Despite its limitations, last-touch will continue to be popular for its simplicity, especially for CTV. However, as data privacy evolves, AI may offer more privacy-compliant ways to measure and attribute conversion accurately, shifting reliance away from last-touch models.
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