Posted on Nov 29, 2023

Beyond the Screen: CTV Attribution Essentials and Tactics

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The number of CTV users among Millennials (only in the US) has already reached almost 57 million, and by 2025, this rate is expected to exceed 62.5 million. 

This statistical fact proves the growing importance of connected TV in advertising. However, to understand and increase the efficiency of ad campaigns, you need to apply CTV attribution tactics. 

This article is here to guide you through the CTV attribution process, as well as to explain the most efficient strategies to follow in order to reach stable advertising income.

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CTV Attribution: Definition and Its Role in Measuring the Effectiveness of CTV Campaigns

CTV refers not only to smart TVs but also to gaming consoles and other Internet-connected devices used to deliver television content. To ensure the effective performance of ad campaigns, you need to understand where users come from; this is exactly what CTV attribution is aimed at. 

CTV attribution involves measuring the impact of every specific campaign on consumer behavior and tracking where users come from. Unlike traditional TV, connected devices allow precise data collection and measurement. Therefore, thanks to attribution, you can make data-driven decisions, learn from your mistakes, prioritize the most effective channels, and, as a result, generate more income.

At the same time, you should remember that most CTV ads are not clickable. For instance, a user may see an ad on their smart TV and then use a smartphone to find the product, so measuring the effect of CTV ad campaigns can be challenging.

To perform attribution of CTV effectively, you need to match the devices used for viewing the ad and devices leveraged for shopping (or taking any other desired action). 

Key Metrics for Connected TV Attribution

Some of the most essential advertising metrics for connected TV attribution are as follows.

View-Through Rate (VTR)

VTR is the percentage of users who watched an ad to the end. Most often, it is tracked for skippable ads since the unskippable ones will most likely have a 100% VTR (unless users just stop watching the video). Measuring VTR can help create more effective ads, as you will know how many people found them engaging.

Watch Time 

Watch time measures the amount of time users spend watching the ads over a specific period of time. This metric allows you to understand how long ads are keeping users engaged, which ads users watch the longest, etc.

Conversion Rate

This metric specifies the number of users who took the desired action after watching an ad. Measuring the conversion rate is the way to assess the overall effectiveness of advertising efforts. Remember that for attribution of connected TV, it is essential to match CTV devices with those used for converting.

Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)

ROAS is the amount of revenue you earn for every dollar spent on CTV advertising. Basically, it measures the effectiveness of an ad in comparison to its cost. By monitoring ROAS, you can identify the most successful ads and improve your future campaigns.

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CTV Attribution Models

There are several CTV advertising attribution models to choose from, so let’s review each in detail.

First-Touch Attribution

This model gives all the credit to the first interaction with the brand. For instance, a user sees a paid ad on a social network, then a CTV ad is delivered based on their social media activity. After that, they see an ad on Google, explore your website, and finally, take the desired action and make a purchase.

Despite multiple touchpoints, the first-touch attribution model implies that a user decides to convert after the first interaction. In our example, this is a social media ad. 


  • Easy to implement and measure as it focused only on the initial touchpoint;
  • Helps to identify the most effective channels for driving traffic.


  • It is not always precise, as most customers need multiple touchpoints with the same brand before making the final decision.

Last-Touch Attribution

Unlike the first-touch attribution model, this one focuses on the last touchpoint. Let’s use the example of “social media ad — CTV ad — Google ad” one more time. According to the last-touch attribution model, Google ad is exactly what convinces a user to convert.


  • Ease of implementation;
  • Allows effective resource allocation, as you can focus on the touchpoints that immediately precede the conversions.


  • Lack of accuracy, as other touchpoints are ignored, which limits understanding of consumer behavior and intent. 

Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution is a more advanced approach since it takes into account multiple touchpoints involved in the customer journey. It can be divided into the following submodels:

  • Linear attribution gives every touchpoint the same credit;
  • U-shaped attribution focuses on the first and last touchpoints, giving them 40% credit. The remaining 20% is divided between additional touchpoints;
  • Time decay attribution prioritizes the touchpoints occurring closer to the conversion;
  • W-shaped attribution considers the first, final, and opportunity creation touchpoints (30% of credit to each). 10% is divided between any extra points;
  • Full path attribution divides the credit between the first interaction, opportunity creation, lead creation, and customer close touchpoints.

Note that to get more precise control, you can create a custom attribution model combining the features of several approaches.


  • Higher accuracy since the model considers multiple touchpoints;
  • Helps to optimize budget allocation across different channels.


  • Requires more data, meaning this model is more complex to implement and analyze.

View-Through Attribution

As it is clear from the model name, the view-through attribution approach simply assigns the increase in traffic and conversion rate to CTV ads for a specific period of time after the campaign is launched. It focuses on users who watched the ad but did not click it.


  • Takes into account the unclickable nature of the majority of CTV ads;
  •  Ease of implementation.


  • Heavily relies on assumptions, so measuring campaign effectiveness can be challenging.

Note that there is one more popular option — a click-through model. However, since most CTV ads are not clickable, it does not work well with CTV advertising.

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5 Strategies for Precise CTV Attribution

For accurate and effective CTV attribution, consider implementing the following strategies.

IP Data Integration

When a CTV campaign is launched, it is essential to identify and store the IPs of households where the ads have been viewed. The next step is identifying other devices connected to the same IP within every household. 

When one of these devices is used to take the desired action, you should compare the data to identify matching IPs. This way, you can find out in which households CTV ads led to conversion and discover how effective the ads are. 

Incrementality Testing

To understand the real impact of CTV campaigns, optimize their performance, and ensure proper budget allocation, implement incrementality testing, which implies comparing exposed and unexposed audiences.

Basically, it works like A/B testing. For instance, you can deliver a branded ad to the exposed audience, while the unexposed one will watch an unrelated advertisement. You can also show ads to the audience in a specific region, while viewers in a different location will not see these ads.

Investing in Brand Safety Solutions

Launching CTV advertising campaigns can bring great results when performed correctly. However, the visibility into brand safety is often rather limited, while the data landscape is fragmented due to the variety of CTV devices. 

In terms of CTV attribution, it can be challenging for you to make sure that your ads are shown in a safe environment, as well as to compare the efficiency of different campaigns.

To deal with these challenges and protect your brand reputation, leverage first-party data and invest in your brand safety. For instance, you can use a programmatic platform with numerous filtering options to make sure that your ads are displayed on safe sources.

Perceiving CTV as a Complement to Linear TV

CTV devices are getting more and more popular, however, a lot of users still prefer linear TV. Therefore, you should not consider CTV as your only channel. Instead, perceive it as a complement to traditional TV — this approach is the way to extend reach and target unexposed audiences.

To ensure effective attribution, leverage ACR (automatic content recognition). It can help you identify households that were exposed to your ads across both connected and linear TV. 

Avoiding Excessive Attribution

CTV refers to multiple devices, not only to connected TVs. Besides, you are most likely to use an entire set of channels for advertising (for instance, social media). 

In terms of attribution, you need to avoid excessiveness and measure campaigns across various channels separately. Otherwise, you may assign some of your CTV advertising achievements to other channels, so the results will be misleading. 

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Optimizing CTV Campaigns for Better Attribution

  • Create a landing page for every specific CTV campaign so that it will be easier to measure the performance and collect attribution insights;
  • Equip ads with QR codes to increase conversion rate — users will be able to scan them right when watching an ad to get to a website or landing page;
  • Target the audience with consistent messaging across different channels, not only CTV, to generate multiple touchpoints;
  • Apply targeting settings to reach the right users at the right time and improve ROAS.

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How does CTV attribution work?
First and foremost, collecting data on consumer behavior (conversions or other actions users take after watching a CTV ad) is essential. Then, attribution modeling is applied to identify the most likely reason for taking action. The final step is measurement and reporting on the campaign results. 
What is the difference between CTV attribution and CTV measurement?
CTV measurement involves tracking and analyzing the performance of CTV ad campaigns. CTV attribution means identifying where users are coming from when they take the desired action (for instance, this can be a specific campaign or channel) and measuring the campaign’s impact on consumer behavior.
How to choose an attribution model?
Choosing the right attribution model depends on multiple factors, including business goals, the complexity of the customer journey, the number of marketing channels, and the type of promoted products or services. Besides, you need to consider the pros and cons of every model.
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