Google to Sunset Four Attribution Models in Ads and Analytics

The tech giant retires first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based attribution models due to low adoption rates.

April 6, 2023, 12:03 EDT

Google has announced plans to retire four rules-based attribution models in Google Ads and Google Analytics later this year. This change will impact marketers who still rely on these models for their ad campaigns. The decision comes after the company observed increasingly low adoption rates for these models.

Overview of the Changes

The following attribution models will be deprecated:

  1. First-click
  2. Linear
  3. Time decay
  4. Position-based

According to a Google spokesperson, fewer than 3% of conversions in Google Ads use these models. With the sunsetting of these models, marketers will have to adapt their strategies and adopt new approaches to track conversions that are not last-click.

Impact on Marketers

The change will significantly affect marketers who utilize these models in Google Ads. Greg Finn, Director of Marketing for Cypress North, stated that the data-driven attribution formula is different for each advertiser and not visible. He said, “In the past, you could use linear and give each touch the same credit. You will no longer be able to do so. There will be no impact on last touch, as that is still available. But finding some of the first-touch information will be much muddier because there will no longer be a way to see the formulas that compute the attribution scores.”

Timeline for Sunsetting

Google will begin phasing out the first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based models in Google Ads and Google Analytics starting in September . For newly created conversion actions, these attribution models will no longer be available in:

  • GA4 starting in May.
  • Google Ads starting in June.

Data-Driven Attribution as the Default Model

Google announced its shift to data-driven attribution in September 2021. For advertisers who did not want to use data-driven attribution, Google Ads made five rule-based attributions available – last click, first click, linear, time decay, and position-based.

Switching to the data-driven attribution model typically results in a 6% increase in conversions for advertisers, according to Google. This shift highlights the company’s focus on providing more accurate and tailored solutions to help businesses make better data-driven decisions.

Adapting to the Changes

As marketers prepare for the changes, they should consider the following steps to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Review current attribution models in use and identify any dependencies on the retiring models.
  • Assess the potential impact of the change on reporting and optimization efforts.
  • Explore alternative attribution models, such as data-driven attribution, to replace deprecated models.
  • Train marketing teams on the new models and best practices for their use.

In conclusion, Google’s decision to sunset four attribution models in Ads and Analytics reflects the company’s focus on data-driven solutions for advertisers. Marketers need to adapt their strategies to the new models, ensuring they can continue to optimize their campaigns effectively.

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