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Google Analytics Attribution

Understanding Google Analytics Attribution Models

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has a new way of measuring and attributing data compared to the old version. In GA4, they use an "event-driven" approach for collecting data and attribution modelling.

Here are some key aspects of GA4 attribution:

  1. User-Centric Measurement: Google Analytics 4 (GA4) puts more emphasis on understanding how people interact with your website or app than just counting how many times they visit. GA4 tracks events, which are things that users do on your site like looking at pages, clicking buttons, watching videos, and so on. GA4 uses these events to attribute user behaviour, which means you get a better understanding of what people are doing on your site and how they're doing it.
  2. Data-Driven Attribution: GA4 uses machine learning algorithms to analyse how people move through your website and gives credit to different parts of the journey. It helps you understand what events and actions are most important in leading to the conversion or goal completion that you want. This is all based on data-driven attribution modelling, which means that you get a clear picture of what works and what doesn't so that you can make informed decisions about how to improve your website.
  3. Multi-Touch Attribution: With GA4, you have the ability to analyse the entire journey of your website visitors and give credit to multiple touchpoints. This means that you can take into account all of the events and interactions that led up to a conversion, rather than solely relying on the last touchpoint. It provides a comprehensive view of the user journey, allowing you to better understand how your website visitors are engaging with your content and ultimately converting.
  4. Exploration and Reporting: When you use GA4 for attribution analysis, you'll have greater flexibility and more ways to explore the data. One of the most exciting features is the ability to create your own custom attribution models, which you can then compare to see how different touch points affect conversions. GA4 also gives you lots of different reporting options to choose from, including the Conversion Paths report. This report shows you the exact sequence of events that led to a conversion, which can be incredibly useful for figuring out what's working and what needs improvement.
  5. Cross-Device Attribution: GA4 makes it possible for you to keep track of how people are using your website or app across various devices. This way, you can accurately give credit to the different touchpoints that contribute to a person making a purchase or taking a desired action, even if they switch from one device to another along the way.
  6. Conversion Modeling: GA4 is a super smart tool that fills in important gaps in data to give businesses a more complete picture of how users are interacting with their website. Using smart technology like machine learning, it can even estimate the impact of untracked events and show businesses the most likely paths to conversions. This means that companies can get an even better understanding of their customers and how to optimise their websites to increase engagement and conversions.

Attribution is an essential component in marketing as it helps advertisers understand the sources that resulted in a desirable outcome for a brand.

In most basic form, Google Analytics Attribution model is a method for attributing a conversion to marketing channels. It gives users better visibility into the full customer journey across all touchpoints from first interaction till purchase. This increased visibility helps users make more informed marketing decisions in an easy-to-use interface.

What is Attribution?

Each time a user visits your site, they come from somewhere, it could be by clicking on a search result link or clicking through an ad or directly typing the URL to your website. These are known as marketing channels. Knowing where your traffic comes from and where the valuable traffic comes from is key to valuing your marketing strategy and understanding your users.

What is attribution modelling?

An attribution model is a rule or set of rules that determine how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths.

One of the most critical concepts in Google Analytics is Attribution the practice of giving credit to the many marketing initiatives that drive traffic and conversions on a website. An attribution model in Google Analytics is a set of rules that determines how credit for conversion should be attributed or say distributed to various touchpoints in a conversion path.

Understanding Google Analytics Attribution
Google Analytics Attribution Models

What is an Attribution Model in Google Analytics?

Google defines Attribution as "Assigning credit for conversions to different ads, clicks, and factors along a user's path to completing a conversion. An attribution model can be a rule, a set of rules, or a data-driven algorithm that determines how credit for conversions is assigned to touchpoints on conversion paths."

So, while attribution modelling is the process of assigning value to touchpoints in conversion paths, an attribution model is the way that value is assigned. In short, attribution modelling is the "what," and an attribution model is the "how." The attribution models in Google Analytics fall into two categories: default attribution models and custom attribution models.

What problems does Google Attribution aim to solve?

The main problem areas that Google Attribution model addresses are

  • how to check and credit upper- and mid-funnel interactions, and
  • how to quickly inform bidding decisions based on full-funnel attribution data

Earlier, only the last click gives all the credit to the user's very last touchpoint before converting. Whereas, Attribution is focused on understanding the full customer journey versus only last-click impact.

With analytics attribution, the advertisers have full-funnel attribution data, and they can see the conversion impact of keywords and ads based on multichannel and multidevice conversion path data.

What are the different types of attribution models?

Marketing attribution is a useful tool for understanding how your users interact with different channels before coming to your website. It is beneficial for valuing your marketing channels and understanding your customers' behaviours.

The various attribution models can be divided into two main categories, i.e., Single-touch attribution model and multi-touch attribution model:

Single touch Attribution Models

Single Touch attribution models focus on one component of the conversion process, giving you data surrounding the specific touchpoints that are interacted with at these stages. It means you will miss a large portion of the data, but you can focus on specific interactions with greater precision.

  • Last Interaction
  • First Interaction
  • Last Non-Direct Click
  • Last Ad Click

Last Interaction Attribution: The Last Interaction attribution model, also referred to as "last-click" or "last-touch," gives all the credit to a customer's final pre-conversion touchpoint. This model provides 100% of the credit to your business's last interaction with a lead before they convert. The direct traffic, in this instance, gets all of the credit for that purchase. 100% of the value is assigned to that last interaction.

First Interaction Attribution: The First Interaction attribution model gives credit to the often underappreciated first touchpoint. The first interaction is similar to the Last Interaction, in that it provides 100% of the credit to one-click/interaction. The first interaction (also called "First-Click") gives all of the credit for a conversion to your business's first interaction with the customer.

Last Non-Direct Click: The Last Non-Direct Click attribution model is effectively the same as the Last Interaction model. However, it ignores all direct traffic. 100% of the value is still assigned to a single interaction. With the last non-direct click, it eliminates any "direct" interactions that occur right before the conversion.

Last Ads Click: The Last Ad Click attribution model will recognize your final Ads interaction. If this touchpoint is at all present in your conversion path, it will receive all the credit. If it is not, it reverts to the Last Interaction model.

Multi-touch Attribution Model

Multi-Touch attribution models focus on the entire conversion process or part of the conversion path, giving you information on how parts of your marketing strategy work in tandem and allow you to see the big picture of conversions.

  • Linear Attribution
  • Time Decay Attribution
  • Position-Based Attribution

Linear Attribution: The Linear attribution model gives equal credit to each touchpoint in the conversion process. With a Linear attribution model, you split credit for a conversion equally between all the interactions the customer had with your business. Linear Attribution gives you a more balanced look at your whole marketing strategy than a single-event attribution model.

Time Decay Attribution: The Time Decay model gives more credence to the touchpoints that occurred later in the conversion process. Time Decay attribution is similar to Linear attribution - it spreads out the value across multiple events. But unlike Linear attribution, the Time Decay model also considers 'when' the touchpoint occurred. Interactions that occur closer to the time of purchase have more value attributed to them. The first interaction gets less credit, while the last interaction will get the most.

Position-Based Attribution: The Position Based attribution model is also commonly referred to as the U-Shaped model, due to the first and last touchpoints each receiving 40% of the credit, and the remaining 20% being shared evenly amongst the remaining touchpoints.

Once we understand customers’ activity leading up to a sale, we can focus resources on the most effective path to conversion. Using analytics attribution model can give you deep insights on which marketing channels are delivering the highest ROI and getting you the most customer engagement. The biggest benefit of analytics attribution is that it helps you improve your prospect-to-customer conversion path as well as lets you focus on the channels that are utmost important for the conversion.

The only right attribution model is the one that provides you with valuable information to increase ROI from your strategy. The key is to figure out which one is a good fit for your business or marketing campaign.