2 min read

Why Attribution Doesn't Matter

Why Attribution Doesn't Matter

First things first: it's not that attribution doesn't matter, but it's that attribution doesn't matter as much as you think it does.

The era of the digital marketing agency claiming superiority over newspaper, billboards, and traditional media because of "tracking" is over.

The actions that shoppers take are so much more complex than clicking an ad, going to a page, and buying a thing. In this post, I'll unlock different places and actions that can't be tracked by attribution software.

Social Media

Sure, you can quantify likes, engagement, ad clicks, and the like.

No, you can't track all of the engagement points a shopper has with your brand to the sale. It doesn't matter if that's an ecommerce sale or a physical sale like one of a vehicle.

Here's what buyers do on social media that you can't track:

  1. They read your posts
  2. They grow brand affinity over time from repetitive exposure to posts and content
  3. They comment on the post, you reply back
  4. They follow your team members and sales team on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or anywhere else
  5. They see your ads
  6. They don't see your ads
  7. They were personally impacted on an emotional level by one of your posts

Dark Social

Dark social is one of those things that doesn't make much sense to the masses. In short: dark social is a term that describes the "backdoor" channels that people use to communicate and share information, such as direct messages.

  1. Conversations are held in the comments of social posts
  2. They follow you on alternate platforms from the links in your post
  3. They subscribe to your podcast from the link in the comments; they listen to countless episodes
  4. They talk about their experiences with your content with others via direct messages
  5. The content from the postcast sparks ideas and exchanges in business meetings
  6. Posts are screenshotted and shared between team members; direct messages, group chats, so on
  7. These people want second opinions and ask for their industry's input via Facebook groups and personal pages


There's no business like word-of-mouth business, and there's nothing that can kill your business faster than negative word-of-mouth.

  1. Conversations about brand's social posts, content, affiliates: good or bad
  2. They read an article about your brand: external media attention can be quite heavy or helpful
  3. Discussions in meetings about insights, opinions, or education materials
  4. Podcast guests and tips are brought up over a business lunch or at the gold course
  5. Listeners want second opinions on what you've shared and ask about it in their industry's masterminds
  6. People are talking about your product itself over dinner
  7. They text their friends to complain (or boast) about your product

The Full Monty

Businesses need to re-evaluate how they do business and how they quantify that business.

There has been a lot of talk about mixed media modelling lately, and assessing your full marketing spend is a reasonable way to analyze your efforts. Read that again. Analyze your efforts.

People trust people, and your customers trust the people they know more than they trust you. Leaning into and acknowledging these considerations will only help you serve them better.