Adapting to Google’s Game-Changer: A Marketer’s Guide to New Attribution Models
Google’s recent announcement to retire first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based attribution models has rippled across the digital marketing landscape. This strategic move has a significant impact on PPC marketers in terms of reporting and customer journey analysis within Google Ads and Google Analytics. Understanding the scope of this shift and the future of attribution modeling is crucial for marketers who want to effectively navigate an evolving digital environment.
Grasping the Concept of Attribution Models
Attribution models function as the basis for distributing credit for sales and conversions across various touchpoints in a conversion path. While Google continues to support last-click and data-driven models, it’s worth noting the key capabilities of the retiring models for comparative understanding.
Last-click attribution assigns the entirety of the conversion value to the last ad click. First-click, on the other hand, assigns the entire value to the first ad click. Linear attribution divides the credit equally across all clicks on the path, while time-decay gives more credit to clicks closer to the conversion. The position-based model apportions 40% credit each to the first and last clicks, with the remainder dispersed along the journey.
A Different Playing Field: A Football Analogy for Attribution Models
Imagine five different football players pass the ball several times and eventually score a goal. In traditionally adopted first-click and last-click models, only the initiator (the player who starts the pass) or the final scorer (the player who actually scores) would receive any credit. Linear attribution would accord each player equal importance. Time decay would favor players involved later in the play. The position-based model would value the initiator and scorer the most, with some credit attributed to the middleman. These varied perspectives highlight the singular lens through which the discontinued models looked at the conversion journey.
Addressing the Score: Google’s Preference for DDA and its Challenges
Google’s preference for the Data-driven attribution model (DDA) is the pivot around which its new direction rotates. Here, an algorithm determines the significance of each touchpoint based on its contribution to conversions.
However, DDA is not without its drawbacks. The complexity and opaqueness of the algorithm leave marketers with limited understanding of the factors being weighed for attribution, which could complicate the planning, analysis, and improvement of strategies. For smaller accounts or highly seasonal campaigns, there might not even be sufficient data for DDA, meaning marketers would have to fall back on Google’s remaining model, last-click, which provides an arguably oversimplified view.
Discovering New Tactics: Alternatives to Discontinued Models
In difficult circumstances come opportunities for innovation. Marketers must now seek alternatives to analyze their customer journeys. This may involve creating bespoke attribution models, focusing on micro-conversion steps in the sales process using tools like Google Analytics, or greater reliance on other platform-specific algorithms.
Adding third-party tools like MixPanel, Attribution, or Bizible that offer numerous modeling options could help marketers establish a broader and more nuanced understanding of their conversion paths. Relying on qualitative insights, such as surveys and customer feedback, can also inform marketers about the most influential touchpoints in their funnel.
Final Score: Navigating New Terrain
This new chapter demands marketers to adapt and evolve. To keep pace, they must continuously update and educate themselves about changes, experiment with alternative analytics approaches, and always maintain a nuanced, multi-channel perspective. Above all, keeping the customer journey as the primary focus, regardless of the attribution model in play, will ensure marketing efforts remain effective and efficient.
To recap, Google’s attribution model changes necessitate adaptation and resilience among digital marketers. Taking a determined step forward and integrating alternate tools and strategies is an effective way to navigate this challenging yet exciting shift in the PPC landscape. Every throw of the ball opens a new play and a chance for marketers to score. The game continues. In the face of changing rules and playbooks, the team that adapts and strategizes well ultimately wins.
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