With the release of GA4, four attribution models are being dropped. In this blog post, we have covered what exactly is happening, why these attribution models are being phased out, and what it means for businesses.
By Kirat Sandhu
12th May 2023
“An end is only a beginning in disguise.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
Attribution models are a godsend for any marketer with the gumption to not just do things right but prove that things are going right.
Marketing attribution models are used to measure the impact of each marketing and advertising touchpoint on a conversion. And Google is making a major change to its attribution models.
With the release of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), four attribution models are being dropped – Last-Click, First-Click, Time Decay, and Position-Based models.
Let’s explore exactly what is happening, why these attribution models are being phased out, and what it means for businesses. Shall we?
Google Ads and GA4 are saying goodbye to First-Click, Linear, Time-Decay, and Position-Based attribution models. These models assign credit/value to each touchpoint based on pre-defined rules and help businesses understand which marketing channels are driving the most value so that they can optimize their marketing spend accordingly.
The downside of these models is that they’re based on historical data and do not account for the complexity and diversity of customer journeys.
And what Google wants to do is make data-driven attribution the default model for web conversions because data-driven attribution uses Google AI to understand the impact of each touchpoint on conversion.
This change is happening because Google wants to provide more precise, accurate, and privacy-centric insights to marketers. Google will employ ML to assess data from the conversion pipeline, without having to rely on the customer’s last interaction alone.
Now, let’s look at why Google is phasing out these models.
Marketing attribution is a team sport, not an individual sport. The aim of attribution is to ensure that it’s not just the quarterback a.k.a. the last touchpoint that gets the MVP award each time but the contributions of the center, guard, wide, tackle, and end players a.k.a all the other touchpoints are recognized as well.
The models that Google is ditching do not give enough credit to campaigns. This is a problem for marketers, advertisers, users, and Google itself. Here’s a detailed look into why Google is phasing out these models:
The Last-Click attribution model, which gives all credit to the last touchpoint before conversion, has been the default attribution model in Google Analytics for a long time. However, this model doesn’t take into account the other touchpoints that may have contributed to the conversion. Similarly, the First-Click attribution model gives all credit to the first touchpoint, which may not accurately reflect the customer’s journey. The Linear and Time Decay models offer a more balanced approach, but they still fall short when it comes to capturing the entire customer journey. These models often result in overvaluing certain touchpoints and undervaluing others, leading to inaccurate data and poor marketing decisions.
With customers engaging with businesses through multiple touchpoints, including social media, search engines, email, and more, customer behavior has changed significantly over the last few years. For instance, a customer may have discovered a business through social media, engaged with them through email, and made a purchase through a search engine. In this case, the traditional attribution models would only give credit to the search engine, completely ignoring the other touchpoints.
Customers are now engaging with businesses from multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops. This makes it challenging to track the entire customer journey accurately, as traditional attribution models only track the activity on a single device. This can lead to inaccuracies in attribution and poor marketing decisions, as businesses may not be aware of the full customer journey.
Traditional attribution models are based on historical data, which means they cannot provide real-time insights into the customer journey. In today’s fast-paced business environment, real-time data is essential to make informed marketing decisions. The GA4 model uses ML algorithms to provide real-time insights into the customer journey, enabling businesses to optimize their marketing spend in real-time.
For Google Analytics 4 properties, linear, time decay, first-click, and Position-Based models will not be available for any new conversion actions.
For Google Ads accounts, linear, time-decay, first-click, and position-based models will not be available for any new conversion actions.
Google will sunset these four attribution models in both GA4 and Google Ads.
Data-driven attribution may be more complex and may require more data to be effective but it is sure to provide a more accurate representation of your customer journey. Without data-driven attribution, you could be making marketing investments in the wrong places.
The absence of data-driven attribution is a problem for marketers, advertisers, users, and Google itself. The users may be surfacing ads at the wrong touchpoint, leading to a lower conversion rate for marketers and advertisers.
It’s a problem for Google as it needs to ensure that ads on its platform are relevant to users, because, well, with every click they get paid. So, it’s in their best interests for users to engage with campaigns and ads.
The time to switch to data-driven attribution is now! And once you do, you’ll be able to get more precise, accurate, and actionable insights into how your campaigns influence conversions and where exactly you need to allocate your marketing budget.
If you’re the coach who enables this switch, your whole team is sure to love you, not just the quarterback. You can quote us on it!
Do You Want to Make the Switch to Data-Driven Attribution? Let’s Talk!
Our marketing analytics hotshots are suckers for data-driven attribution and they’d love to pitch in. Just write to us at email@example.com and we’ll take it from there!
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