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What Is An Attribution Model? How To Use It In Google Analytics?

What Is An Attribution Model?

According to google, this is what it says: “An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. 

For example, the Last Interaction model in Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (i.e., clicks) that immediately precede sales or conversions.”

Very very confusing, isn’t it? 

So let’s break it down.

An attribution model is simply a method used by marketers and advertisers to assign values to the different channels used in their marketing efforts. 

As an online advertising, you will know that you simply cannot have just one channel where you advertise, especially if you want your business or brand to grow. 

Now as you are using different channels, you will also want to know which of those channels gives you the most benefit. 

This is what an attribution model does. 

It assigns credits to those channels which did best at any of the touchpoints in conversion paths.

There are a few key terms to resolve here:

  1. A touchpoint is any point in the conversion path where the consumer interacts with the business. It could be by clicking on your ad, signing up, adding products to the cart, buying the product, contacting your customer service and more.
  2. Conversion path is the journey a person takes from being just an onlooker to become your consumer. From when they didn’t know about you, to after buying a product etc. they converted.

There are different kinds of attribution models depending on touchpoints. Here they are:

  1. First touch attribution: This model awards credit for an ad at the very first touchpoint – that is the first point of contact between the person and the business / brand.
  2. Last touch attribution: This model awards credit for an ad at the very last touchpoint – the last touchpoint will be the last form of interaction between the consumer and the brand for an ad campaign. An example of a last touchpoint could be the consumer sending a review on the website of the product she/he just bought. 
  3. Multi-touch attribution: This model assigns varying weights to different traffic sources for an ad campaign. This leads to multiple channels benefiting when a user interacts with the campaign.
  4. View-through attribution: suppose a specific link, feature or campaign leads to an app being installed, this model attributes specific impressions to installs. It may not end up in an install, but if it helps in the conversion path, then it receives credit!

First and last click attribution are single source attribution models – which means that a conversion is only attribution to the user’s first or last click. 

This is best explained through an example: If a user first clicks an ad on Google, then 100% of the credit will go to Google because it is the channel of the marketing campaign that got the business a conversion. 

Same goes with the last click. Only one channel will benefit in first and last attribution models.

Unlike these, multi-touch attribution models are different. 

As explained earlier, it takes into account every channel that has persuaded a user to click on the campaign or helped go through a step at all touchpoints in the conversion path.


You can use any of these models for your ad campaigns. Your model can even have a mix of the features of these models as well!


Why Is Attribution Model Important?

Have you ever heard of mobile measurement? 

Measuring the impact of your ad campaigns on phones has become extremely important. 


Because phones are an integral part of digital marketing now – as widely used as the internet, desktop computers and laptops.

When we as marketers launch campaigns, it is important for us to know which of our traffic sources or channels are delivering the best results and giving most value – best performing channels. 

An attribution model tells us exactly this information.

Without an attribution model, we won’t know where our traffic is coming from, i.e Which channel or link did the consumer come through? 

We also won’t know the quantity of traffic coming through, which sources are delivering us results, which sources are not (we might have to work on these or toss them aside later), 

how much we should pay for each source and even whether investing in this source is worth it in the long run.


But with attribution modelling, it becomes easy for advertisers to assign credit to all the channels. 

They can also assign certain responsibilities to all the users from different channels of marketing campaigns. 

This helps us analyse the quality of the traffic that is coming in to the website, social channels, apps etc. whether to continue investing in said channels is now up to the advertiser after seeing each channels result and contribution to the success of the ad campaign.


Google Analytics And Attribution Modeling

This is the final stage of attribution modelling. Google analytics has default and custom attribution models that you can us.


  • The default models – they are pre-built models that tell us how credits for conversions should be assigned to different touchpoints in the conversion path. Basically the credits are already given and all you have to do is follow the same credit scores for your own ad campaigns.


Google Analytics provides 8 different kinds of default attribution models:

  • First interaction attribution model
  • Last interaction attribution model
  • Linear attribution model
  • Time decay attribution model
  • Position based attribution model
  • Last non-direct click attribution model
  • Last Ad click attribution model
  • Data Driven attribution model
  • The custom models – as the name suggests, these models are custom built! By people like you and me – advertisers! If you think the default attribution models are not effective and precise enough for your brand or business, then you can create a custom one. The advantage of these is you can create your own rules to assign credits for different touchpoints in the conversion path.


The multi-touch attribution model that was discussed earlier is a very good example of custom built attribution models.


How to view attribution models in Google Analytics?

This is quite a simple task!

  1. Log in to your google analytics account
  2. Under conversions, click on attribution. Under attribution click “Model Comparison Tool”.
  3. A drop down menu will appear. It is “Select Model” drop down menu.


This drop down menu will show you the list of all available attribution models that google analytics provides.