How to Use the Google Analytics Model Attribution Tool

Posted on July 8th, 2013 by True Media

Google recently launched a new feature in Google Analytics allowing marketers to more accurately see how visitors are converting on their site. The purpose of this article is to help you identify when to use a default model and when a custom model may be more applicable.
Before we get into the tool, it’s important to understand why we use attribution. Let’s say you’re the owner of a furniture store and running an AdWords, Facebook, and display campaign for store. If I, an internet user, converted after clicking on an AdWords ad, the traditional Last Click Attribution Model would give 100% of the conversion credit to AdWords. That seems fair, right? What if I had seen one of your display ads 3 days prior, browsed on your site, and clicked away? Does the display ad deserve any credit for the conversion?
As much as attribution modeling is a science, in the end it’s up to the advertiser to determine the importance of that display ad or any other “channel” a visitor went through before converting. For this reason, knowing how each model rates a given touch point before a conversion is vital when using attribution.
Now let’s get into the tool! After you log into Analytics, scroll down to the conversion section in the left hand bar. Expand, and you will see the Attribution button. Expand once again, and the Model Attribution Tool appears.

Types of Default Attribution Models

Once you enter the tool, the default “Last Interaction Model” is shown. There are seven pre-made models for you to choose from. To get an idea of which one is right for your situation, here is a breakdown of what the model shows along with a campaign that would match your data.
Last Non-Direct Click Model– disregards direct traffic and gives credit to the last channel the consumer touched.

  • If you think users are going through one of your channels and later visiting your site directly (entering your URL, bookmarking your site, etc.), try this model.

Last AdWords Click Model– ignores any prior interaction and counts the number of direct conversions that came from users whose last channel before converting was an AdWords ad.

  • You can use this model if you want to see which ad group, keyword, ad, landing page, etc. had the highest number of direct conversions.

First Interaction Model– attributes the conversion to the first channel the consumer touched before converting.

  • This is a useful look if you’re running a campaign to raise awareness for a brand or one with no hard sell tactics involved.

Linear Model– evenly spreads the conversion among all touch points a user hits.

  • If you’d like to see which channels produce the most conversions, whether first, last or in-between, use this mode.

Time Decay– spreads the conversion among multiple touch points, giving more credit to channels closer to the time of conversion.

  • Advertising a limited-time deal? Use Time Decay to see which channels delivered the conversions close to that time.

Position Based Model– allows you to assign value to First Interactions, Middle Interactions, and Last Interactions (defaulted at 40:20:40 respectively).

  • Consider this the shortcut to Custom Modeling. Assign credit based on what you believe the most important interaction times are.

Custom Attribution Models

If you are looking to credit, or discredit, a certain aspect of a campaign or channel to a conversion, you can weigh the model to reflect it. Whether it’s a source, medium, keyword or behavior a user takes, the importance of that characteristic can be portrayed in a custom model.
For example, I ran a campaign that took users to a two-page microsite. One of the ways a user could convert drove them to a separate URL, registering that visit as a bounced visit. Unfortunately, the Attribution Modeling Tool wasn’t around then, but if it had been, I could have used a Custom Attribution Model to see what channels those converters who bounced were most likely to convert through. From there, I could have run a campaign through those channels taking users directly to the URL they bounced to from the old campaign.

Helpful links

For more information about Google Analytics Attribution Model Tool, check out these resources: