top of page
  • Dan O'Connor

First-Touch Attribution: An Affiliate’s Best Friend

We’ve all heard of Thomas Edison, the guy who invented the light bulb, right? Wrong. An inventor by the name of Heinrich Goebel patented the lightbulb some 25 years before Edison, but Edison simply bought the patent and claimed the credit for himself. 

Pretty annoying for poor Goebel. He put in the initial hard work and ingenuity, and all so that someone else could swoop in at the end and take all the credit. 

Well, that kind of injustice is what Everflow is here to put a stop to. Affiliates and influencers can spend hours working their magic to catch that precious first user engagement , only for traditional last-touch attribution models to give all the credit to the last ad placement visited before purchase.

Everflow’s first-touch attribution ensures that affiliates and influencers who generate leads and sales get the reward they deserve, while also arming brands with the ultimate tool for data-driven attribution insights.

What Is First Touch Attribution?

First-touch attribution is a model implemented by Everflow and other smarter affiliate tracking platforms that assigns credit for a conversion or sale to the first interaction a customer has with a brand or product. In the context of affiliate marketing, it refers to crediting the initial touchpoint that led a potential customer to discover and engage with a particular brand or product through an affiliate link.

Basically it ensures that everyone involved gets what they deserve. Content creators, influencers, or affiliates who introduce potential customers to a brand are recognized and fairly compensated for their role in bringing the lead into the funnel, even if the actual purchase occurs at a later stage in the customer journey. 

To put it plainly, the first-touch attribution model offers creators a fair day's wage for a fair day's work, and addresses the disparities in compensation that other models may cause.

What Problem Does It Solve?

In terms of recognition for the conversion, a more traditional and still widely used model is last-touch attribution, but it's a bit of a blunt instrument. It gives all the credit (and commission) to the last touchpoint in the customer's journey before the conversion occurs. Traditional last-touch attribution models fall short in acknowledging the pivotal role of affiliates, content creators, and influencers in introducing potential customers.

This unfair distribution of credit happens often when a user makes a purchase via a coupon site or through a coupon extension, a practice known as coupon poaching.

But if it is so substandard, then why do people still use it? The reason for that is simple - it’s still used by some performance marketing tools because it’s easy to understand and implement. It’s a surface level metric that provides minimal insight and data, and gives no credit to those involved at the beginning of the customer's journey.

The disparities in compensation for the content creator  can leave them feeling undervalued and unmotivated, but it also has huge consequences for the affiliate marketer. 

Last-touch attribution oversimplifies our understanding of the customer journey. It's vital that affiliates are able to identify where the initial lead is generated from. They need to know what caught the customers attention, what drew them in and what warmed them up. 

Having access to this kind of data and recognising these trends is what will revolutionize an affiliates process, and with last-touch attribution, they just don’t get that.

Know What Makes Your Customer Tick 

Being successful in this game is all about understanding your customer. With first-touch attribution you get a clear insight into exactly what got you that precious first engagement. 

  1. Identifying the Top Acquisition Channels: First-touch attribution allows affiliates to pinpoint the most effective channels for acquiring new customers. This information allows them to focus their efforts on the channels that have the highest ROI potential.

  1. Understanding Brand Awareness and Early Engagement: First-touch attribution highlights the marketing channels that initially introduce customers to the brand. By identifying these channels, marketers can optimize their content to resonate with their target audience during the early stages of the customer journey.

  1. Evaluating the Contribution of Multiple Channels: While first-touch attribution focuses on the first channel, it doesn't disregard the influence of other channels that may have contributed to the conversion. This allows affiliate marketers to recognize the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints and see how they work together to drive sales.

  1. Optimizing Landing Pages and Conversion Strategies: First-touch attribution data can be used to optimize landing pages and conversion strategies. By understanding the context in which customers first interact with the brand, marketers can tailor landing pages and messaging to resonate with the audience that initially discovered the brand.

  1. Measuring the Impact of Individual Affiliate Campaigns: First-touch attribution can be used to evaluate the performance of individual affiliate campaigns. By tracking which campaigns generate first-touch engagements, marketers can identify the most effective partners and optimize their campaign strategies accordingly.

  1. Identifying Audience Preferences and Behavior: First-touch attribution can provide insights into audience preferences and behavior. By analyzing the types of channels that attract first-time visitors, marketers can gain a better understanding of their target audience's interests and online behavior. 

Fair Compensation for Content Creation

Nothing destroys motivation more than not feeling valued, just ask George Harrison! People need to feel they are being seen, or they risk becoming disillusioned with the project. With last-touch attribution models, creators often feel they are not being rewarded properly for all the hard work they are putting in, such as when they review an affiliate product in their Insta story or on their podcast.

What good is putting all that time and effort into an amazing brand video or ad for TikTok that creates tones of engagement, if all that is not being recognised and rewarded when the sale or conversion is actually made?

First-touch attribution is a way of ensuring your creatives get what they deserve.

Enhanced Motivation for Content Affiliates 

By properly rewarding creatives for the effort they put in, you create a huge motivator for them to step-up their game even more. 

There is obviously the direct monetary benefit, which is the strongest motivator of all, but first-touch attribution also empowers creatives by giving them a sense of agency in influencing customer behavior. Knowing that their work is directly connected to business outcomes can motivate them to produce content that is not only creative but also strategically impactful.

It also encourages creatives to incorporate data-driven insights into their work. By seeing the direct fruits of their labour through analyzing attribution data, creatives will have the drive and tools to create even more kick-ass content for your campaigns.

Building Trust with Content Creators

At the risk of getting a bit too philosophical - trust it the basis of any strong professional relationship. 

Having a smooth, well-oiled relationship with an external content creator is priceless. First-touch attribution is the kind of data-driven, empowering model that can prevent disputes and foster a sense of equity between creatives and affiliates. By providing clear and transparent insights into how content influences customer behavior, you can establish trust with creatives.

By sharing attribution data and discussing performance insights, communication and feedback between the creative and the affiliate becomes simple, clear and effective. Both parties are on the same page and can identify opportunities for improvement and address any concerns or challenges.

Respect and understanding is important and by appreciating the value of each other's contributions, both parties can establish a more collaborative and trust-based relationship.

Long-Term Partnership Opportunities


It’s great to have an external creative you can count on every time. Skip the long, arduous and often frustrating process of finding a good, affordable creative. Instead you can have a go-to person that you know will knock it out of the park. 

Not only that, but if you have a history of working together your visions are more likely to be aligned. The affiliate and the creative will have an understanding of the requirements without needing a lengthy explanation. 

Both parties can ensure that their efforts are aligned and driving conversions. Making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction will lay the foundation for successful long-term partnerships. 

Everybody Wins!

First-touch attribution is a model where everyone's a winner. The affiliate marketer has the data to show them exactly where the important engagement is coming from, and is working with a motivated, well informed content creator that they have a trusting and understanding relationship with.

On the other hand, the content creator is being rewarded properly for the work they are putting in, are highly motivated, and feel as if they have more agency and involvement in the process. 

Everflow is one advertising platform that has been implementing first-touch attribution since its inception way back in 2016. They believe in giving the affiliate the best possible chance to see their campaigns skyrocket, as well as being fair towards creatives and giving them the compensation and credit they deserve. 

If you’re not already using Everflow, book a demo here and get one of their experts to walk you through the process and answer any more questions you may have. 

Like what you read? There’s plenty more where that came from. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter now to get our content free forever! Make sure to check out our Editorials and Latest News stories so you don’t just stay informed, you stay ahead! 

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Feb 02

Great summary, very well written. A must read for revenue leaders!

bottom of page