Google Analytics Attribution Models: What They Are and How to Use Them


Brody Hall

 on May 25, 2022. 
Reviewed by 

Romi Hector

Woman working at a desk using a laptop and holding a sheet of paper

When you're trying to understand how different factors are affecting your website's performance, you can use Google Analytics attribution models to help explain how users arrived at certain pages and interacted with your site.

What Is a Google Analytics Attribution Model?

Attribution models categorize the sources of traffic to your site and assign a percentage of the credit for each visitor. Knowing which attribution model is being used can help you focus your analysis and optimize your website.

What Are the Objectives of Google Analytics Attribution Modeling?

One of the primary objectives of Google Analytics attribution modeling is to assign a value to each interaction that contributes to a desired outcome, such as a purchase. The model attempts to identify the most important interactions and allocate a proportionate share of the credit (or blame) for the outcome to each. This helps businesses understand which marketing channels are most effective at driving desired outcomes and make better decisions about where to allocate their resources.

How Does Google Analytics Attribution Modeling Work?

Google Analytics attribution modeling works by assigning a value to each interaction a customer has with a business and then calculating the total value of those interactions. Essentially a customer journey analysis, the model then assigns a portion of that total value to each interaction, depending on how likely it is that the customer would have made the purchase without that interaction. This allows businesses to see which interactions are most valuable to them and focus on improving those interactions.

Types of Google Analytics Attribution Models

There are seven core attribution models that Google Analytics leverages. These are:

  1. Last-Touch Attribution This model assigns credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint that was used before the conversion happened.
  2. First-Touch Attribution This model is a method of attribution that credits the first interaction a customer has with your business as the cause of any subsequent actions.
  3. Linear Attribution This value is based on the role that the interaction played in the overall conversion process. The linear attribution model assigns the same value to each interaction.
  4. Position-Based Attribution This model prioritizes the first and last interactions, placing 40% of its weight on the first and last touchpoints and 20% on the middle.
  5. Time-Decay Attribution This model assigns the most weight to the last touchpoint and decreasing weights to each touchpoint before the last.
  6. Last Non-Direct Click This model assigns credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint before the conversion that was not a direct click from the ad.
  7. Last Google Ads Click This model assigns credit for a conversion to the last ad click that was made before the conversion occurred.

If you’d like to read more about Google Analytics checkout behavior, check this out.

How to Create an Attribution Model in Google Analytics

How do you create an attribution model using a custom Google Analytics report? Here’s how:

  • Navigate to “Conversions > “Attribution” > “Model Comparison Tool” and then find the “Last Interaction” drop-down menu.
  • Select “Create new model”.
  • Assign your new model a name.
  • Determine your baseline model.
  • Set your attribution settings.

It's important to consider your business' goals when choosing an attribution model. If your goal is to reduce churn rate in e-commerce, then you may want to use a model like First-Touch or Linear that gives more weight to earlier interactions. If your goal is to increase conversions, then you may want to use a model like Last-Touch that gives more weight to later interactions.

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