Google Attribution: What you need to know

Over the next few months, Google will be rolling out Google Attribution, the new and free alternative to their enterprise offering Attribution 360. It’s the biggest attempt yet to make holistic attribution more available and accessible to everyone.

What is Google Attribution

The new offering looks to show the full picture of the customer journey and enable marketers to see multi-device and multichannel attribution. This is another step away from last click attribution, with Google already introducing the data-driven attribution model to Analytics in 2013 and attribution modelling for search funnels in 2014. Both have limitations, with the data-driven attribution model requiring a substantial number of clicks and conversions in a 30-day window and the attribution modelling for search funnels only accounting for interactions across ads, not across channels.

Google Attribution aims to solve these limitations by looking across both devices and channels with even more touch points. After finally replacing converted clicks with conversions, which support attribution modelling, in September, Google Attribution will be another welcome addition.  

How it works

Google Attribution uses a range of data for a more in-depth look, taking information from Analytics, AdWords and Double Click. Many will also be pleased to know that this doesn’t require any additional site tagging.

The collective data is then analysed across devices and channels with a selected attribution model. This includes the new data-driven attribution model, which uses machine learning to analyse to what extent each touch point increases the probability of a conversion. This essentially highlights the most important interactions along with customer journey, assigning fractional conversion credit to each touch point. While this attribution model was introduced to Google Analytics 360, Google Attribution 360 and then eventually AdWords, it will now include all the touch points to show a more complete customer journey.

Finally, the results are automatically sent back to be used for analysis and decision making.

The new Google Attribution will allow more marketers than ever to get a clearer idea of the customer journey and attribute credit to top and mid funnel interactions across channels and devices.

What this means for marketers

Being able to assign credit to unseen top and middle funnel interactions and getting a more complete look of the customer journey has long been a key problem for marketers. Google Attribution will now allow marketers to ensure important early interactions don’t go unnoticed. This should mean fewer decisions based on the last click that produce unexpectedly negative results.

For example, if a particular keyword or keywords seem to be costing a lot through high CTRs but disappointing in the conversion column, a marketer may choose to pause or reduce bids in favour of a better performing campaign. If, however, Google Attribution reveals that those keywords are inspiring the conversions in your better performing campaign, pausing them would probably be the wrong decision. In this instance, Google Attribution prevents conversion rates taking the hit from the loss of overlooked but important interactions.

This holistic approach to attribution will also empower marketers to make the most of their most important touch points, inspiring better-automated bidding strategies. This means more decisions that make the most of underutilised ads or keywords, nurturing the right interactions to encourage more conversions and better conversion rates. In the same example above, rather than pause those keywords we might instead adjust our bids in favour of them and feed more traffic to our converting campaigns.

The benefits of Google Attribution

By finally taking a step to solve these key attribution problems, we think Google Attribution will be able to deliver vital benefits to marketers and PPC strategies. All of these benefits either directly or indirectly impact conversions or conversion rates, and savvy marketers will no doubt see ROI improvements as a result.

Less guess work

The most basic benefit of Google Attribution is less guess work. With last click data only ever revealing a fraction of the story there just isn’t enough data to make a truly informed decision. Marketers are forced to take last click data as the whole picture out of necessity and can eventually lose sight of the full picture altogether. No guess work is good work, whether it’s a decision that results in plummeting CTRs or a one that results in a sudden uptick in conversions. If you don’t know why it’s happening, you can’t do anything with it.

Google Attributions takes a lot more of the guesswork out of decision making, meaning marketers can see why a decision has produced certain results and work to avoid or repeat this in the future. Even more importantly, it’s now possible to make more accurate decisions from the start and avoid any unexpected results from discrediting a quietly successful interaction.

Strengthen top funnel interactions

Although they’re early in the process and not ready to convert, that doesn’t make top funnel customers any less valuable. In fact, they could be even more valuable, in the long term, then last click customers. Nurturing these interactions will help to expand reach, improving top funnel activities to encourage more traffic and keep the funnel full.

Additionally, strengthening your top funnel interactions means that your best converting campaigns can continue doing what they do best, but with even more traffic. That’s good news for your conversion rates and ensures good converting campaigns are made the most out, resulting in an all-around stronger funnel.

Stay competitive

Most importantly, working to improve top and mid-funnel interactions also helps keep these customers from going to competitors. Missing people who are just starting out on their journey means they’ll likely go elsewhere to purchase. Long term that could mean not only losing out on customers but also giving them to the competition. This can become a dangerous cycle that sees the competition stealing precious market share and impacts overall business performance.

Most of the picture

While Google Attribution opens this type of data up and enables analysis to the wider industry, the treasured data-driven attribution model still has substantial click and conversion requirements. Currently, it requires 15,000 clicks and a conversion action with at least 600 conversions within 30 days. This is an improvement on the requirements for the model when it first became available in AdWords, and we can only hope that it may drop again in the future.

Attribution will probably always be an imperfect science; accounting for every touch point on the customer journey accurately is only getting more difficult. Not only is the multichannel landscape more complex than ever, but new GDPR regulations will also see tracking the customer journey threatened by privacy concerns. Even with Google Attribution marketers may still find themselves relying on some guess work to help fill in the entire customer journey.

If you want to take a more holistic approach with your PPC and drive the actions that really matter talk to one of our team today. Alternatively, why not take a look at our AdWords training and take charge of your AdWords strategy.

Katy Smith

Katy Smith

Digital Marketing Executive

Katy is a Digital Marketing Executive at Netmatter with a degree in Marketing. She has so far gained experience in various areas of marketing including email, copywriting, social media and SEO.

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