Google’s been working towards eliminating the ‘last click attribution’ in favour of a more realistic one for quite some time now. Over the years, it has made several advancements, two in particular being:

  • the attribution modeling for search funnels which Google added to Adwords in 2014 that helps advertisers evaluate the impact of their search ads using other models; and
  • the ability for search marketers to assign an attribution model to conversion events in AdWords, including Google’s data-driven attribution model added last year.

With Google’s new Free Attribution, these will still continue to be available in AdWords.

Furthermore, the data-driven attribution model, launched in 2013, uses machine learning to assign credit to each interaction along a conversion path. Google Attribution will also support this model.

However, in order to use it, accounts must have at least 15,000 clicks and a conversion action with at least 600 conversions within 30 days.

What is ‘Last Click Attribution?

In terms of marketers, the last click attribution is considered to be the last thing before a purchase and therefore money would go to that last click.

Why did Google decide to kill Last Click Attribution?

The reality is that every purchase made online is not determined by the last touchpoint that leads to a purchase, but is determined by different touch points made throughout the whole journey. In order to understand better how purchases are made and what prompts the user to make a purchase, we must understand the journey that the user takes. It is for this precise reason that Google has decided to focus more on the journey of a user, which consists of different touch points that eventually lead him to make a purchase.

To give an example, imagine a user who makes a purchase through search, technically speaking, the last step before making the purchase is attributed to him performing a search on Google. However, in reality, he could have been first exposed to the item or service through other means such as email, display impressions or generic search ads, which in turn would have led him to conduct a search. But according to the last click attribution, these different touch points are disregarded, and the conversion is attributed to search. Search is completely accredited with the purchase, and whatever might have prompted the user to make that search does not get a slice of the pie.

Therefore, in a sentence, last click attribution is a model which completely ignores any touch point made before the final point before a conversion.

With Google’s new Free Attribution, the tables are turned because now marketers will be able to track the different touch points a user makes along his journey which will help draw a path of beginning to end.

According to Marketing Land, ​director of product ​management​ at Google Kishore Kanakamedela has stated by phone that, the aim of this new attribution is thus to “simplify the complex problem of multichannel, multidevice attribution by leveraging data advertisers already have in Google Analytics, AdWords or DoubleClick Search”, whilst Bill Kee, group product manager at Google​, continued to add that “Google Attribution is focused on understanding the full customer journey versus being limited to looking at last-click impact”

How does Free Attribution work?

Free Attribution works with machine learning, as many other things nowadays. The way it works is that, a weighted value is given to every touchpoint made by a consumer along their journey, i.e. from the very first step to the very last step that led them to make a purchase. The goal of this new attribution is to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of ads across different channels and devices. For example, if a consumer’s last action before buying something is a Google search, with free attribution this information is not enough. It might result that an earlier email campaign led the person to make that Google search, and therefore the campaign may also get its share of the credit.

For this reason, Free Attribution is also referred to as ‘Multichannel Attribution’. Just like the data from ‘last click attribution, the data that is collected from this multichannel attribution also feeds back into Google AdWords and DoubleClick Search to inform bidding optimizations. With the AdWords and DoubleClick Search integrations, advertisers will be able to incorporate Google Attribution data into their automated bidding strategies. Advertisers don’t need to add any additional tags to their sites to use Google Attribution.

Although this “multi-touch attribution” is not an entirely new concept, it is by far going to be the most accurate and fast one yet.

Moreover, It’s also free in the version designed for small and medium-sized businesses.

When will Free Attribution be out?

At the moment, the service is still in beta, however Google should be releasing it widely later this year.

In addition, the company has also announced the release of a product called Attribution 360 which is aimed more at agencies that roll out large campaigns. Fundamentally, it does the same things as Free Attibution and more, and its an annual price starts at $150,000.

Once again, data is either gathered from Google’s Adwords and DoubleClick, but clients can also inform its results by uploading marketers’ own first-party data too.

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