As Google explains, the decision to switch to data-driven attribution is due to the evolving privacy landscape.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more data privacy protections from big tech companies, which has led the Googles and Apple's of the world to introduce new policies and tools that give users more say over how their personal information is used. Or so they say.


Why the Last Click attribution model is dead

It's vital that we advertisers have access to models and evaluation platforms that allow us to see not only how the last click contributed to the purchase, but how all touchpoints throughout the customer journey contributed.

This way, when analyzing the ROI of individual campaigns (e.g., "how did my unbranded Google Shopping campaign do this month?") we will have a better understanding of the performance of our campaign as a whole.

"For example: a retailer may see that one of their campaigns has a return of 0.7:1.  To the retailer, it appears that this particular campaign is not performing well, so they might think it best to pause it and reallocate that money to a different campaign with a better performance (example 5:1 ROI).

While this is part of the reporting that Ads provides, we should not forget that many potential customers who were probably not yet aware of our brand probably did an initial search for say "red jeans".

They then saw our ad, clicked on it and continued searching even though they were probably already looking for our brand specifically but ended up clicking on a branded text ad.

According to the last click attribution model, the Ads report will say that the branded text ad is the only campaign that gets credit for the conversion.

A good way to understand attribution is to imagine a basketball game. A point guard receives a pass from his teammate, shoots and scores. The point guard gets credit for points on the scoreboard, but the reality is that if his teammate had never passed him the ball, he likely would never have had the opportunity to score.

So, in this scenario, the point guard is the text ad for the brand and, if we follow the last click attribution model, unfortunately his teammate gets no credit for the pass and it appears that he is not a good player judging by the hard numbers.


Data-Based Attribution

Data-driven attribution evaluates, according to Google, signals across the entire customer journey - rather than just the last touchpoint - and offers a more obfuscated view of user-level data, thus offering greater privacy.

At the same time, the company says the new model has the potential to improve advertising effectiveness by analyzing all "relevant data" about interactions that lead to a conversion.

The new machine learning-based model evaluates everything from the length of time between interaction and conversion to ad formats.

In addition, according to Srinivasan, Google Ads evaluates the results of retention experiments to optimize the accuracy of its models.

The company says that "when combined with automated bidding strategies, data-driven attribution can drive additional conversions at the same cost per acquisition," due to the model's ability to "better predict the incremental impact a specific ad will have on driving a conversion, and adjust bids accordingly to maximize... ROI," according to today's announcement.      


New Default Attribution Model

The new attribution model, which is already available on Google Search, Shopping, Display and YouTube ads, will be expanded to accommodate other interactions, including offline and in-app conversions.

The update will roll out as the default model across Google ads starting next month, but the company will continue to allow users to select from five different attribution models.

In addition, it looks like the company will soon integrate data-driven attribution into Google Analytics 4 and plans to introduce additional privacy-focused ad measurement tools and products in the coming weeks.

Among these updates will be expanded access to Google Ads Enhanced Conversions and Engaged View Conversions, which allow marketers to measure conversions that occur in the days following a ten-second or longer viewing of a given ad.


Last click measurement is still available (but no longer by default)

-Despite the appeal of AI-powered data, last click remains a popular metric, especially for small and medium-sized advertisers that don't use third-party measurement providers or set aside budgets for testing.

Advertisers still have the option to turn off data-driven attribution and choose one of Google's five rules-based attribution methods:

The image shows the different Google Ads attribution models

  • Last Click
  • First click
  • Linear (crediting all impressions equally)
  • Decay time (crediting for the duration between an impression and conversion)
  • Position-based (40% credit for the first and last impression, and 20% for the rest)


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JOS (without the E)