Google Ads Attribution Models Explained With Best Practices

google ads attribution models

Attribution models and attribution reports can be a challenge at first, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for every business. As we get more and more data about our website and our conversions, we want to use it to our advantage.

I will cover all 6 attribution models in Google Ads below and when you should use each strategy. There are some best practices and reports you can follow as well for better campaign performance.

Important Note: Modeling is only available for Search Network and Shopping ad campaigns. It’s only available for website, Google Analytics, phone call, and import conversion actions.

Google Ads Attribution Models


6 Attribution Models in Google AdWords

There are 6 total attribution models in Google Ads that you can choose from. When you create a conversion and optimize your campaign for it, you can choose the attribution model when you are counting conversions for your campaign.

google ads attribution model


Data-Driven Attribution Model

Credit is given for conversions based on all of the data Google Ads has about each conversion path and past history of clicks that lead to conversions.

You need to accrue a certain amount of data before you can use the Data-Driven model. Google Ads will need campaign history and conversion data before you can use it. Credit will be distribution optimally based on the clicks that are most likely to lead to a conversion.

data-driven attribution model


Last Click Attribution Model

Credit is given for conversions for the last-clicked ad and the keyword that triggered the ad. 100% of the conversion and conversion value is given to the last click.

No other clicks or interactions, besides the final one, with your website get any credit with the Last Click attribution model in Google Ads. If someone clicks on 5 of your advertisements and converts on the final click, the first 4 clicks will not get any credit when you drive a conversion.

last click attribution model


First Click Attribution Model

Credit is given for conversions for the first-clicked ad and the keyword that triggered the ad. 100% of the conversion and conversion value is given to the first click.

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If someone searches your targeted keywords, and clicks on multiple ads along their path to a conversion, the credit for the conversion is only given to the first click. It is the complete opposite of the last click model above.

first click attribution model


Linear Attribution Model

The credit for a conversion is given equally for each click along the path.

If there are 5 clicks on the path to a conversion, each click will receive equal credit, which would be 20%. If there are 2 clicks, each click will receive 50% of the credit. If there is only 1 click, then it will receive 100% of the credit on the path to a conversion.

linear attribution model


Time Decay Attribution Model

The last clicks on the path to a conversion will receive the most credit. The first clicks on the path to a conversion will receive the least credit.

With the Time Decay attribution model, clicks are not distributed equally, but rather the final click will get the most credit and the first click will receive the least credit. If there are 5 clicks on the path to a conversion, the credit would be distributed from most to least from click 5 down to 1. From Google Ads help: “Credit is distributed using a 7-day half-life. In other words, a click 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as a click 1 day before a conversion.”

time decay attribution model


Position-Based Attribution Model

When a conversion occurs, Google Ads will give 40% credit to the first click and 40% credit to the last click, and every click in-between will receive the remaining clicks along the path.

If there are 5 clicks along the path, the 1st click and the 5th click will each get 40% of the credit for a conversion. Clicks 2-4 will receive the remaining 20% of credit.

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Position-Based Attribution Model


Google Ads Attribution Best Practices

The main thing when you are optimizing your attribution model is to understand how many interactions people have before they convert.

1. Use The Google Ads Search Attribution Report

1. Click on the Tools menu at the top of your Google Ads account.
2. Click on ‘Search Attribution’ from the menu.

google ads search attribution
 

Next, you want to view your Path Length report in Google Ads and your Time Lag report. These are important attribution reports where you can see how many interactions it takes before someone actually completes a conversion.

Attribution Report Google Ads


2. Use The Model Comparison Tool

1. Go to your Google Analytics account.
2. Click on the Conversions tab, then Attribution, then click on the Model Comparison Tool Report.

You are able to compare the different attribution models against each other based on the data for your website. By using this report, you can understand how conversions are driven on your website and choose an attribution model to test first.

Use The Model Comparison Tool


3. Use The Assisted Conversions Report

1. Go to your Google Analytics account.
2. Click on the Conversions tab, then Multi-Channel Funnels, then the Assisted Conversions Report.

You can understand how different traffic channels can lead to assisted conversions. Sometimes you will find that your Paid Search traffic leads to more assisted conversions than you realize. In addition, you can learn how different sources of traffic help drive the conversions on your website.

Assisted Conversions Report


4. Use The Top Conversion Paths Report

1. Go to your Google Analytics account.
2. Click on the Conversions tab, then Multi-Channel Funnels, then the Top Conversion Paths Report.

Last but not least, you can look at the different conversion paths that people take on your website before they reach a conversion.

Top Conversion Paths Google Analytics


5. Test Attribution Models

Even if you have data, I would still recommend testing different attribution models to see what works best for your business. I use the Time Decay attribution model frequently, but Linear might be useful for your business as well. In addition, once Data-Driven is available in your account, I would recommend trying that model because it is based on Google Ads data.

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About Attribution Models in Google Ads

If you are receiving hundreds or thousands of conversions in a given month, you understand that they can come from a variety of sources and interactions. Some people may click one ad and convert, while others may click an advertisement, click an organic search listing, and then click a Shopping ad before they finally convert. Attribution Models can use that data to improve your Google Ads campaigns. The attribution models were created to serve all the different types of advertisers that use Google Ads.

How Should Advertisers Distribute Credit?

Ideally, advertisers can find a model that drives more conversions within your budget. Personally, I like using the Time Decay attribution model until I can use the Data-Driven attribution model. I believe each click should receive credit on the path to a conversion, so I rarely use the first click or last click attribution model.

In Summary

As always, you need to test in Google Ads to see what works best for your business. When you are optimizing for conversions, you want to understand how to attribute your conversions to your advertisements. There are 6 options you can choose from, and you should give credit to all the clicks on the path to a conversion.



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