Your Guide to Attribution Modelling

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Recently, much of the focus within Google Analytics and AdWords has centred on attribution modelling. Attribution modelling is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how much credit for a sale or conversion is assigned to a particular medium or touch points.

The main models used by AdWords are highlighted below. I will go through each one in more detail, along with a new data driven model, which will be rolled out over the coming months.

AdWords Attribution Models



Last Click Attribution


This model has previously been used by the majority of advertisers, and will likely be the most familiar to many. It is also the default attribution model for Google Analytics. Using Last Click Attribution gives all the credit to the last clicked ad and corresponding keyword that led to a conversion.

The benefit of this model is that it is the easiest model to apply, as it just looks at the user journey between the last click and the conversion. However, with this, you might be ignoring all of the other clicks your customer has made along the way. Using a more integrated attribution model will not only allow you to fit a better model to business, it will also assist you in reaching customers earlier in the conversion path and improve your bidding strategy.

First Click


If last click goes to the very last click, then first click is the opposite. First click attribution gives all the credit to the first clicked medium and corresponding ad or keyword. With this line of thinking, whichever medium started the journey, gets all the credit.



If first and last click models are too black and white for your business, you might consider linear attribution. In this model, all clicks that lead to the conversion are given the same amount of credit.

Liner attribution allows for a team orientated model. All who played in the game get equal credit for the win. For example, if when you reviewed a linear attribution model and 30% of the middle of the funnel converts, you should consider building a +30% revenue into your model for assisted conversions. Bear in mind,

Bear in mind, with the previous models, the values have only been in integers- with linear modelling and the others that will follow, you can find conversion figures with fractions and decimals, as particular mediums (e.g. AdWords) may only get 0.3 of the conversion, rather than 1 in the first or lack click models.

Time Decay


Time decay offers a unique perspective, especially if your business has a longer conversion cycle. Time decay allows a weighted attribution, meaning clicks that happened closer to the conversion are given more weight than clicks that happened further away from the conversion.

AdWords has a 7-day half-life built into this model. This means that if a click happens 8 days before a conversion, it is given half the credit as a click would receive if it happened the day before a conversion.



Position-based attribution does not mean the average position of an ad, but rather the position of click on a timeline. As an example, the first and last click ads and corresponding keywords are both given 40% credit, while clicks that happened in between the conversion path window are given 20%.

The actual values can be tailored to give a higher percentage to a specific click within the conversion path (e.g. 1st gets 40%, 2nd gets 25%, 3rd click gets 35%), but a popular setup for this is to give the most credit to the first and last click in the path (due to the first click being the first touchpoint of the brand, thereby creating the first impression and the last click being the last touch point before the conversion was actually made.

Data-Driven Attribution

This is a model that is currently still in beta, it is worth mentioning, as it will be rolled out over all AdWords accounts over the next few months. Data-driven attribution models automatically give conversion credit based on past data performance.

Data-driven attribution gives credit for conversions based on how people search for your business and decide to become your customers. It uses data from your account to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on your business goals. AdWords looks at all the clicks on your Google Search ads and compares the click paths of customers who convert to the paths of customers who didn’t.

Therefore, the model identifies patterns among those clicks that lead to conversions. There may be certain steps along the way that have a higher probability of leading a customer to complete a conversion. The model then gives more credit to those valuable clicks on the customer’s path.

The benefits of this are:

  • You can learn which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns play the biggest role in helping you reach your business goals.
  • You can optimise your bidding based on real data for your account.
  • You can choose the right attribution model for your business, without guesswork.

If you have any questions about attribution models or how it can impact on your account, drop us a line at or give us a call at 02890683790.


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