BREAKING: Google Launches Free Attribution

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Just as Google introduced analytics and tracking to the webisphere in 2005, the technology conglomerate has yet again released a free solution for marketers, advertisers and business owners alike. At the Google Marketing Next conference held in San Francisco in May, Google announced the launch of their new platform, Google Attribution, which is a simplified version of Attribution 360 (paid enterprise version of the Analytics 360 suite).

What is Google Attribution?

Google Attribution is a free platform that integrates with Google Analytics, AdWords, and DoubleClick to pull in data to better illustrate conversion actions across channels and devices, bringing online and offline data together. The current user path to conversion is exposed to several touchpoints throughout the consumer journey, and tracking has become vulnerable to relying on last-click attribution models. Google Attribution seeks to remedy this by unifying data streams to offer a holistic view of a campaign’s performance and impact.

What does Google Attribution solve for?

In true Google fashion, their new platform follows a slew of iterations that strive to solve for assigning proper attribution. In 2014, AdWords introduced attribution modeling for search funnels, which helped advertisers appraise the impact of their search ads using various attribution models. About a year ago, Google gave advertisers the ability to assign an attribution model to conversion events in AdWords.

When understanding the full scope of your marketing efforts, it’s important to see beyond just the last-click action. Often, a generic keyword initiated the conversation between a consumer and a brand, and Google Attribution aims to highlight the true influence of an advertiser’s search and display ads along the conversion path. Moreover, the immediate insight procured by Google Attribution (through automated, modeled conversion data fed into AdWords) can help inform bidding decisions based on full-funnel attribution data.

“Google Attribution is a great step in the right direction,” shares Staci Weber, Media Supervisor at Katana. “It’s difficult for clients to make the connection between how marketing across channel directly contributes to conversions, and this is just another tool to help marketers tell that story. However, I don’t see the argument for last-click attribution going away anytime soon.”

Google Attribution vs. Attribution in AdWords

Conversions and converted clicks coexisted in AdWords for the majority of the platform’s existence, but as of September 2016, Google got rid of converted click support to pave way for conversions only. ‘Converted clicks’ was the incumbent conversion tracking method, but it only tracked last-click attribution while conversions support other attribution models.

Search Funnels Attribution debuted in AdWords in 2014, but it only reports on whether online users interacted with multiple ads from the same advertiser. In other words, it lacked insight from how other channels’ ads interplayed unless advertisers had data-driven attribution models implemented.

Google Attribution vs. Attribution in Analytics

Through the current Analytics and AdWords integration, advertisers can evaluate paid search and Display Network performance in the platform’s multi-channel funnel reporting and the attribution model comparison tool. However, Google Attribution offers more in-depth insight, includes Google’s data-driven attribution model and offers additional information on more touch points.

Data-Driven Attribution Model

Since the very nature of attribution is an imperfect science, Google has earnestly tried to capture accurate data on each touch point a user interacts with prior to converting or completing an action. Google debuted its data-driven attribution modeling platform in 2013 (initially exclusively available to the paid versions of Analytics and Attribution) and then integrated with AdWords in 2016.

Because attribution can’t just assign credit to a channel where the conversion happened, there needs to be substantial data for modeling to occur. Modeling is executed at the conversion action level, requiring the conversion action to have at least 15,000 clicks and a minimum of 600 conversions within 30 days to be eligible for data-driven modeling. The new Google Attribution and Attribution 360 (paid version) include all touch points versus only the last four touch points in Google Analytics 360.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? Well for starters, you can have more knowledge around what’s working and gain insight to improve upon your campaigns. Unique attribution models that account for all channels and are built around your business’s needs will aggregate the most accurate insight. In turn, this will lead to improved performance and higher return on investment for cross-channel campaigns.