Real Madrid Football Club step onto the football pitch at the Champions’ League group stage ready for a blockbuster game. Nearing the end of the game with each team kicking against a brick wall of defence, there is a break in play…

A Real Madrid defender takes the position and flicks the ball back to the keeper. The keeper spots an opening and places the ball right in front of a midfielder. The midfielder shakes off an attack and passes onto a forward in full sprint, who finds the back of the net with a left-foot strike.

Who do you think should get the glory for the goal?

I’m sure 242 million Real Madrid fans will have various opinions, as did these three fans of the losing team who were talking about the sad state of their local club;

Fan 1… “I blame the manager; if we could sign better players, we’d be a great club.”

Fan 2… “I blame the players; if they made more effort, I’m sure we would score more goals.”

Fan 3… “I blame my parents; if I had been born in a different town, I’d be supporting a decent team.”

In marketing, we also often wonder who should get the glory, but from a perspective of which banner, article or search term drove the conversion. And in some instances, as with the losing team’s fans, what is to blame for a campaign not working?

Say you’re looking for new pair of football boots. You do a general search to see what boots are available and stumble onto the Nike website via a Google ad. A week later you’re back on the Nike website after clicking on an ad in your Facebook feed. The following day you click on an email with a great offer from the Nike store. A few hours later you decide to buy the Nike Mercurial Superfly 7 Elite MDS after watching a YouTube review, by typing the Nike URL directly in your browser.

Now which channel/piece of content should get the glory for your purchase? Is the content that initiated the sale the most important? Or is it the last touchpoint, where you typed in the URL in your browser?

Interestingly, based on the 2019 annual salaries of the top 10 footballers, it seems the clubs favour the Forwards – or in marketing terms the last touchpoint before the sale.

Here’s what they earn (in US$)

1 Lionel Messi – FC Barcelona – Forward – $127,000,000

2 Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus – Forward – $109,000,000

3 Neymar Paris – Saint-Germain – Forward – $105,000,000

4 Paul Pogba – Manchester United – Midfielder – $33,000,000

5 Andres Iniesta – Vissel Kobe -Midfielder – $32,500,000

6 Alexis Sanchez – Manchester United – Forward – $30,800,000

7 Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain – Forward – $30,600,000

8 Mesut Ozil – Arsenal – Midfielder – $30,200,000

9 Oscar Shanghai – Sipg – Midfielder – $29,000,000

10 Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid – Forward – $27,700,000

Back on the topic of marketing, there are several attribution models to consider when wanting to give credit, or in some instances the blame:

1. When working with the Last Touchpoint Attribution Model, as is Real Madrid Football Club, the value is given to the last touch point – based on the purchase of the football boots the direct channel would receive 100% of the credit.

2. Applying the Last Non-Direct Click Attribution Model, all direct traffic is ignored and 100% of the credit for the sale goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through from before converting—in this instance, YouTube.

3. Using the First Interaction Attribution Model, the first touchpoint — in this example the Google Search —would receive 100% of the credit for the sale.

4. Linear Attribution Model determines each touchpoint in the conversion path receives equal credit.

5. In the Time Decay Attribution Model, the touchpoints closest in time to the sale or conversion get most of the credit.

6. In the Position-Based Attribution Model, 40% credit each is assigned to the first and last interaction, and the remaining 20% credit is distributed evenly to the middle interactions. In our football boot example, the Paid Search and Direct channels would each receive 40% credit, while the Social Network and Email channels would each receive 10% credit.

Having said all that, I’m curious what would happen if Real Madrid Football Club used a time decay attribution model based on goals – what are your thoughts?