Analytics Attribution Modeling… Savvy?

By Nelson Hudspeth | Apr 18, 2013
More Articles by Nelson

Multi-Channel Attribution is a pretty big topic in our industry, and most of us aren’t as knowledgeable as we would like to be on the subject. Attribution modeling attempts to solve the problem of which channel gets credit when a user touches multiple channels prior to converting. The problem with attribution models historically has been that they segment attributes at the single channel level: paid search, social media, direct traffic, organic search, etc., and often lack the ability to simultaneously compare various models across a multi-channel format.


The good news, however, is that Attribution Modeling can go beyond the “First Interaction” or “Last Interaction” models that are typically used, giving marketers a much better method of tracking campaign performance across multiple channels. The new Google Analytics Attribution Modeling Tool aims to help marketers dissect and make sense of this data, allowing you to compare how different attribution models impact the valuation of your marketing channels. Select an attribution model in the tool (up to three at once), and the table shows the number of conversions for each channel, as calculated by that model. Below are the attribution models you can utilize with the tool, as well as some more information on each.


Last Interaction – All credit is given to the last channel that brought a visitor to your site.

  • Last Interaction is the default model for these reports, and serves as a benchmark for comparison with other results.
  • Last interaction is also helpful if your business is primarily transactional, with campaigns attracting customers ready to buy.

First Interaction – All credit is given to the first channel that brought a visitor to your site.

  • First Interaction models are helpful if you’re running awareness campaigns, and want to generate exposure.

Linear – Equal value is given to all channel interactions in the conversion path.

  • Linear models are great if each portion of a sales process is designed to maintain contact with the customer, making each touch point equally important.

Time Decay – More credit is given to a channel the closer the interaction occurs to the conversion (time wise).

  • Time Decay models are great if the sales cycle has a very short consideration phase.

Position Based – More credit is given to the first and last channel interactions while equally distributing the rest of the credit to the middle interactions.

  • Position Based models emphasize touch points that either raise awareness (First Touch) or result in sales (Last Touch).

Custom – Specify where to assign credit by creating your own model.

  • Custom models allow you to tailor models specifically to the set of assumptions you wish to evaluate in your conversion path data.


Currently, the Attribution Modeling Tool is available through Google Analytics via a public whitelist. This Attribution Modeling Tool was previously offered through the Google Analytics Premium product at an additional cost. The move to make the Attribution Modeling Tool available for everyone shows that Google is aggressively looking to extend analytics capabilities for all marketers. Google posted a webinar giving an overview of the tool’s capabilities.

Are you utilizing attribution modeling? Does the thought of dissecting multi-channel data make you want to run and hide? Drop me a line @Nhudspeth4 and tell me what you think!

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