Embracing Data-Driven Attribution in Google Ads

Monica Simmons - August 8, 2023

Back in 2021, Google announced that data-driven attribution would become the default attribution model for all new Google Ads conversion actions. So, why does this matter now? Up until recently, advertisers still had the option to use several rules-based attribution models for their conversion actions – but this is about to change.

The Consumer Journey

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, the path to purchase has become increasingly complex. Advertisers strive to understand the impact of each touchpoint on a consumer’s journey towards conversion. This is where attribution models come into play, assigning value to these touchpoints, and helping to shed light on the effectiveness of advertising efforts. Let’s dive into the difference between rules-based and data-driven attribution models.

What Are Rules-Based Attribution Models?

Rules-based attribution in Google Ads refers to a method of assigning value to different touchpoints or interactions that a user has with your ads along their journey to conversion. It involves predefined “rules” that determine how credit for a conversion is distributed among these touchpoints. Traditionally, rules-based attribution models have been the go-to choice for assigning value to different conversion touchpoints. However, these models have limitations when it comes to adapting to the dynamic nature of consumer behavior, since each rule for a specific touchpoint is set up manually. Recognizing the need for a more versatile and accurate approach, Google introduced data-driven attribution which relies on machine learning and artificial intelligence to dynamically allocate credit to these different touchpoints.

Why Embrace Data-Driven Attribution?

Data-driven attribution leverages the power of Google’s AI (rather than manual, pre-set rules) to comprehensively understand and analyze the impact of each advertising touchpoint on a conversion. This AI-driven approach, coupled with automated bidding strategies, enhances overall campaign performance by providing a granular understanding of attribution.

What’s Next?

Google has announced a phased transition away from traditional rules-based attribution models; June 2023 marked the deadline for advertisers to have the option of selecting first click, linear, time decay, or position-based attribution models for setting up new conversion actions in Google Ads. Most recently announced, by September 2023, any remaining conversion actions using these models will be automatically switched to data-driven attribution.

It’s important to note that this shift does not affect any conversion actions currently set up under data-driven attribution, last click attribution, and external attribution models. Advertisers who prefer not to utilize data-driven attribution can still opt for the last click model. The removal of these rules-based models from the platform will also affect reporting features across Google Ads, including the Overview page and the Model comparison report within the Attribution tab.

The move towards data-driven attribution marks a significant leap forward in accurately understanding the impact of advertising touchpoints, especially in omni-channel campaigns (i.e., Performance Max). As we bid farewell to traditional rules-based models, we eagerly anticipate the enhanced insights and capabilities that data-driven attribution will bring to the forefront of digital advertising strategies. To learn more, contact the digital advertising experts at MoreVisibility.

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