It seems like there is an announcement every week about browsers and websites putting new privacy tools in place that limit tracking of online behavior. These changes provide users with more ownership of what data is shared about their online behavior and limit organization’s abilities to gain insight from those user behaviors – including important insights related to attribution and conversions. Google (and the industry) expects that there will be fewer and fewer individual identifiers that can be used for attribution over time, potentially leading to less insight about where your conversions are coming from.
For example, if a user’s browser removes all tracking attribution related to clicks from Facebook and then a visitor converts on your website, you will see one conversion but may not be able to identify where that conversion should be attributed to (Facebook).
To help provide organizations with insight into these mis-attributed conversions, Google introduced modeled conversions with GA4. Modeled conversions are conversions that Google attributes, even though the attribution wasn’t directly observed by Google Analytics tracking code. Google employs several different techniques to estimate the number of conversions that weren’t directly observed with attribution by the Google Analytics tracking code and then ties these modeled conversions in with directly observed conversions.
One method Google uses is to look for patterns between conversions where attribution was observed and then uses machine learning to apply the behavior modeling of observed conversions to those that weren’t observed. In an overly simplistic example, if 2% of all observed and directly attributable traffic from Facebook converts, Google Analytics might apply those insights to non-attributable traffic and assign a certain percentage of non-directly attributable conversions to Facebook. These modeled conversions will be present in several different areas of GA4 including Conversion Reports, Advertising Workspace Reports, and Explorations that include Conversions as a metric alongside Attribution Dimensions.
This is just one great feature out of many that is leveraged by GA4 (with more to come) that helps fill in attribution gaps. Although not perfect, it helps provide more insight into where previously un-attributed conversions likely came from.
If you are looking for help with improving your organizations tracking and analytics capabilities, please reach out to email@example.com.