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Custom Attribution model increases ROAS by 93% YoY


  • 6.6%

    YoY revenue increase for UK market 

  • 47%

    Increase in ROAS in the UK

  • 93%

    Increase in ROAS in the US

  • 47%

    Increase in conversion rates 

Key to Success:

  • We increased conversion rates by 47% by developing bid adjustments based on the attribution model
  • We then used our attribution model to inform the budgets for Paid Search, Metasearch, and Display across multiple of their key markets
  • Our work with SAS and their agencies was recognised with the UK Biddable Media Award 'Best use of Attribution'


Scandinavian Airlines wanted to move away from a last-click attribution model enabling them to understand the incremental revenue and ROAS of all marketing channels for each of the key international markets (UK & US). The new custom attribution model should be visualised in a comprehensive dashboard making it easy to action performance insights in an agile way.


To meet this challenge, Merkle hosted an attribution workshop to ensure all parties (including two different media agencies) understood the purpose and crucially the benefits of an attribution model. They analysed customer journeys and channel performance to understand when and where to reach users (right time, channel, device etc.) while considering the position of each channel in the funnel.

They developed a custom attribution model in Google Analytics based on the customer journey insights and created a cross-channel dashboard to visualise and report on attributed channel performance.

Finally, they built an agile process to review performance with the media agencies to identify opportunities for media optimisation whilst obtaining direct feedback on media delivery.


  • Revenue for UK market increased by 6.6% YoY
  • ROAS increased by 47% (UK) and 93% (US) YoY
  • CPA decreased by 32% and Conversion Rate increased 47% by developing bid adjustments based on the attribution model.

Taking Attribution further

As we have successfully moved SAS away from last click attribution with the attribution dashboard combined with monthly insights and recommendations, we have taken attribution further to influence bigger business decisions.

How so?

We used our attribution model to inform the budgets for Paid Search, Metasearch, and Display across multiple of their key markets. This adds a level of sophistication to the high level budget planning process, allowing their media teams to split the budget in the most efficient way and drive incremental revenue at a consistently strong ROMI. 

The Results

As of February 2019:

  • Revenue is 23% higher YoY, and 19% above target (with key markets surpassing targets).
  • Spend is down 7% YoY
  • ROMI is up 32% YoY
  • Additionally, the forecasted revenue from our budget plan was only 0.1% off actual revenue generated. 

Big Picture

Using our attribution model to inform decisions such as the quarterly paid media budget planning is a big win for the business. 

It further proves that attribution can add sufficient rigour to generate an optimal budget allocation among digital marketing channels and generate an accurate revenue forecast on a global scale and in a complex and ever-changing industry such as the travel industry.

Further to that, it demonstrates how Merkle, SAS, and their agencies collaborate to deliver complex projects across different channels and markets. This was possible because of the strong relationship and trust created between all parties over the last couple of years. It also demonstrates the client’s data maturity, ROMI-driven decision-making, and high level of data competence.

Winner: UK Biddable Media Award - 'Best Use of Attribution'

UK Biddable Media Award image


“Understanding the true performance and contribution of our digital media and optimising media spend accordingly is a priority for SAS to reach our commercial goals. This has been easier to say than do. Merkle have enabled us to implement both a robust attribution solution and effective way of working, involving stronger collaboration between SAS and our media agencies, in how we can continuously and collectively improve the business, through allocation of media spend and application of ROMI thinking in all that we do. Importantly the revenue and ROAS performance goals are being met and we will therefore roll out this solution in other key international markets.”

Will Reed, Head of International Marketing, Scandinavian Airlines

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.