When and How to Change your Google Analytics Attribution Model

Take a read of our blog which provides you with all you need to know about the Google Attribution Model to gain in-depth understanding into your ad performance.

Digital marketing has undeniably risen in both popularity and effectiveness over the years, with businesses utilising online platforms, such as social media, to target their chosen audience.

However, with there now being so many platforms to choose from, it can be harder to know which one is benefiting your business the most regarding sales and increasing revenue.

Of course, Google Analytics is a useful tool for digital marketers and PPC managers, specifically the attribution model feature, which can tell you exactly which source or channel produced your desired results, such as signing up to newsletters, or sales.

If you haven’t got your Google attribution model set up, or you’re just currently using the default attribution model without taking advantage of custom reports, then keep on reading to find out how you can utilise this tool to gain further insights into the performance of your ads.

A quick refresher on attribution models

While on their user journey, customers will often interact with multiple ads from the same advertiser. Attribution models, which are a defined set of rules used to assign credit for conversions to certain touchpoints in a customer journey, can identify which campaigns are performing better, allowing you to make further optimisations to generate more success.

Additionally, attribution models let you choose how much credit each ad interaction gets for your conversions.
 

Graphic of the Default Channel Grouping in Google Analytics


This extra level of control allows businesses to reach customers far earlier in their purchasing cycle, as well as improves your bidding due to having a stronger understanding of your ads and how they perform.

What are the different types of Google attribution models?

There are various forms of attribution models available. For example, you can choose from:

  • Last interaction – this attribution model gives 100% credit to the last touchpoint a user interacted with, regardless of prior interactions.
Google Attribution Model Last-Touch Attribution Graphic
  • Last Google Ads click – in this model, 100% of the credit is given to the last interaction that was made with a Google Ad.
Google Attribution Model Last Interaction Attribution Graphic
  • First interaction – in this case, the first interaction or touchpoint, such as the paid search channel would receive 100% of the credit for the sale.
Google Attribution Model First-Touch Attribution Graphic
  • Linear – for this attribution model, each touchpoint would receive equal credit for the conversion. For example, the social network, email, paid search and direct channels would each receive 25% of the credit.
Google Attribution Model Last Linear Attribution Graphic
  • Time decay – touchpoints closest to the time of the conversion or sale would receive most of the credit However, the social network would receive less than other channels. If the paid search interaction occurred one week prior to the conversion, it would receive considerably less credit.
Google Attribution Model Simple Decay Attribution Graphic
  • Position-based – this attribution model gives 40% credit to the first interactions, 40% credit to the last interactions, and the remaining 20% is split evenly across the middle interactions.
Google Attribution Model First & Last Attribution Graphic
  • Last non-direct click – this attribution model gives credit to the last point of contact that was NOT from a direct visit to a website. This is actually the default attribution model used by Google, and so if you haven’t changed it, this is the one you’ll currently be using on your Google Analytics account.
  • Data-driven – data-driven attribution models distribute credits for the conversion based on the observed data for each conversion type. It differs from other models, as it uses your data to try to accurately calculate the contribution of each click interaction.
  • Rules-based – this attribution model uses a set of predetermined rules and formulas to allocate conversion credits across your touchpoints. Rules-based automation does not take historical data into account.

Which is the best attribution model to use?

The type of attribution model you choose depends on your business, and how closely the data from each attribution model aligns with your own marketing activity and what your unique end goals are.

If you have enough data, we usually recommend you use data-driven attribution models, as it can provide you with the most insight into your ad performance and paint the clearest picture for success.

If you do not have enough data, then rules-based automation is often the next best attribution model to use.

However, the key here is to play around with the different options available to find the one that suits you and your business the most – what works for some may not work for others.

How to set up Google attribution models

The following steps can be used to help you set up the Google Analytics attribution model feature:

Step 1: Log in to your Analytics account, then select Attribution from the navigation on the left.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reporting Option

Step 2: Open your campaign, then select the Keywords tab to view the reporting table.

Step 3: Now, click Columns, Custom Conversions and then Google Analytics.

Step 4: From here, click Create to build a new column. From here, you can choose an attribution model and your campaign data will be filtered by your chosen model.

Step 5: Next, you need to select your metric from the list of options provided. This will be the attribution model to be used for contextualizing your data.

Step 6: Click Save to save your change and continue using the chosen attribution model.

How do I change the Google attribution model?

Now you know how to set up the Google Analytics attribution model feature, it’s also important to know how to change this from the default.

Google Attribution Model Settings


To change the attribution model for an existing conversion action, you simply need to:

Step 1: Log in to your Google Ads Account.

Step 2: Click the tools icon in the upper right corner, then, under Measurement, select Conversions.

Step 3: Select the conversion you want to edit by clicking on the conversion name in the table.

Step 4: Next, click Edit settings.

Step 5: Click on attribution model, then select an attribution model from the drop-down menu.

Step 6: Finally, click Save, and then Finished.

When to change your Google Analytics attribution model and why

Now you know how to change your attribution model, it's important to know when to change it, and why this can positively impact your campaigns.

As you know, there is a close interaction between Google Ads and Google Analytics and changing your attribution model will also then change your metrics as a result. This will impact how you use the performance planner and how you optimise your campaigns going forward.

When you add and send conversions to Google Ads, the “last click” attribution model is automatically applied. In many instances, this is not the best model to use, as many conversions will not be assigned to your campaign, and it ignores other ad interactions that customers may have had along their journey.

For example, the default attribution model causes larger ecommerce advertisers to lose up to 20% of their advertising impacts, compared to a multi-touch attribution model.

And for ecommerce marketers, this is critical, as 1 in 5 pounds spent on digital advertising is not receiving the correct credit for the impact that it has on the sales. This means that 1 in 5 decisions about where to invest is misguided.

As far as when is the best time to change your attribution model goes, we recommend that you test different attribution models to determine which one is best for your business and delivers optimal results to report on.

There is no right or definitive answer to which is the right attribution model – by testing different models and analysing the results, you can find something that is more tailored to what you’re trying to achieve, instead of applying a one size fits all approach.

By changing your attribution model, your intelligent campaigns and automatic bid strategies will acquire more conversion data, and the more data they have, the better they can run and optimise your campaigns, ultimately affecting the number of new conversions.

Do you need help managing your PPC activity?

For PPC managers taking care of multiple accounts and monitoring a wide range of PPC activity, it can be tiresome to keep on top of it all. Contact the team at Diginius today to find out how we can not only help you to manage your accounts, but help you take them to the next level.