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November 29, 2017

Posted by: Claire Brzozowski


What's the Deal with Google Attribution?

For anyone who has tried to gain traction on their online content, they can relate to the aggravation of trying to measure the ROI of content and digital marketing. Since the very beginning of the digital marketing age, marketers have tried to convince business owners that a post on a social platform such as Facebook or twitter begins the long user and eventually leads to a blog post, which takes a consumer to a service or landing page, which contains a call to action, and finally, ends in a sale. This is all fine... if there were any numbers to prove this theory of the social posting as having started the process.


Up until recently, Google has relied on last click attribution to measure ROI. Last click attribution is a fancy way of crediting the last place the consumer clicked for a sale. While last click is a worthwhile tool and offers good insight, it can often obscure the entire journey that a consumer may take. For example, it takes multiple clicks before a customer will give their credit card number, reaches out to a sales team, or even contacts the store. Last click disregards all this effort.



Because of its limitations, business owners and marketers are becoming less and less satisfied with last click. Aware of this, Google began the transition to attribution in 2014 with the purchase of Adometry, a multi-channel attribution solution. Fast forward three years and Google has finally announced attribution at its Google Ads Keynote in May 2017.


You may be asking yourself, ‘how does Google know how much of the sale the Facebook post, blog post, or email deserves?’. It’s a good question with an interesting answer. You see, Google begins at the end. They start at the end of the sales cycle. Google has established relationships with credit firms which in turn provide the data for 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the US. With this data readily available, they have created a solid foundation for the extrapolation necessary to create purchasing models.


From here, purchase/conversion information feeds into a general algorithm which Google as created. This algorithm examines which click alienated the potential consumer and which engaged them. Google can examine this across social platforms, pay-per-click email, and organic and paid searches, as well as via desktop, mobile, and laptop platforms.


Even further, Google can use specific data from a consumer’s successful pathway to a sale versus an unsuccessful pathway for a certain company. By leveraging this information, they can then decide in which step on the user’s journey through multi-platforms deserves how much credit.



Once those models have been compared, the information is configured in to an algorithm that is uniquely engineered to that business. The benefit of this is that, while the program itself is all automated, the process is individualized to each user. This data-driven attribution model can deliver information that is beneficial to both the business owners as well as the marketers, which in turn allows them to spend their marketing budgets more effectively. In the end, this raises ROI for all channels.


While Google attribution is still in beta, with only a handful of Google partners currently using it, Google product managers say that this tool will be available for everyone by the end of the year. While Google’s definition of “everyone” may differ from yours, with Google asserting that the program is limited to companies with at least 15,000 clicks on a conversion offer and 600 fulfilled conversions within 30 days, attribution is still an interesting concept to keep in mind when devising your marketing plans in the coming year.


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