Attribution Modeling Overview

An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, Last Interaction attribution assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (i.e., clicks) that immediately precede sales or conversions. First Interaction attribution assigns 100% credit to touchpoints that initiate conversion paths. These are two examples of attribution models.

The calculated conversion value (and the number of conversions) for each of your marketing channels will vary according to the attribution model used. A channel that predominantly initiates conversion paths will have a higher conversion value according to the First Interaction attribution model than it would according to the Last Interaction attribution model.

Example: A customer finds your site by clicking one of your AdWords ads. She returns one week later by clicking over from a social network. That same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly and makes a purchase.

Last Interaction model icon In the Last Interaction attribution model, the last touchpoint -- in this case, the Direct channel -- would receive 100% of the credit for the sale.
Icon for Last Non-Direct and last AdWords Click In the Last Non-Direct Click attribution model, all direct traffic is ignored, and 100% of the credit for the sale goes to the last channel that the customer clicked through from before converting -- in this case, the Email channel.
Icon for Last Non-Direct and last AdWords Click In the Last AdWords Click attribution model, the last AdWords click -- in this case, the first and only click to the Paid Search channel -- would receive 100% of the credit for the sale.
First Interaction model icon In the First Interaction attribution model, the first touchpoint -- in this case, the Paid Search channel -- would receive 100% of the credit for the sale.
Linear model icon In the Linear attribution model, each touchpoint in the conversion path -- in this case the Paid Search, Social Network,  Email, and Direct channels -- would share equal credit (25% each) for the sale.
Time Decay model icon In the Time Decay attribution model, the touchpoints closest in time to the sale or conversion get most of the credit. In this particular sale, the Direct and Email channels would receive the most credit because the customer interacted with them within a few hours of conversion. The Social Network channel would receive less credit than either the Direct or Email channels. Since the Paid Search interaction occurred one week earlier, this channel would receive significantly less credit.
Position Based model icon In the Position Based attribution model, 40% credit is assigned to each the first and last interaction, and the remaining 20% credit is distributed evenly to the middle interactions. In this example, the Paid Search and Direct channels would each receive 40% credit, while the Social Network and Email channels would each receive 10% credit.

Model Comparison Tool

The Model Comparison Tool allows you to compare how different attribution models impact the valuation of your marketing channels. Select an attribution model (for example, Last Interaction) in the tool, and the table shows the number of conversions (or value, depending upon your selection) for each channel, as calculated by that model. You can select up to three attribution models at a time and compare the results from each model in the table.

For examples of model applications, read About the Attribution Models.

Creating a Custom Model

In addition to the basic models, you can use the Model Comparison Tool to create, save, and apply a custom model that uses the rules you specify. This allows you to tailor models specifically to the set of assumptions you wish to evaluate in your conversion path data.

To create a custom model, click on the model drop-down selector, and choose Create new custom model. You then name your model, choose a baseline model, specify a lookback window, and apply custom credit rules. The baseline model defines how credit is distributed to touchpoints in the path before the custom credit rules are applied. You can choose Linear, First Interaction, Last Interaction, Time Decay, and Position Based as baseline models.

In the Apply custom credit rules section, you can define conditions that identify touchpoints in the conversion path according to characteristics such as position (first, last, middle, assist) and campaign or traffic source type (campaign, keyword, and other dimensions). After defining the touchpoints you wish to identify, you can specify how these touchpoints will be distributed conversion credit, relative to other touchpoints.

Note that the rules all specify relative credit distribution. For example, the Linear model divides conversion credit evenly across touchpoints. So, in a conversion path with four interactions, each touchpoint would receive 25% credit. However, if you apply a credit of 2 to the Paid Search channel, and the third touchpoint in the path was Paid Search, credit would be applied as follows:

1. Referral gets 20 percent, 2. Social Network gets 20 percent, 3. Paid Search gets 40 percent, 4. Email gets 20 percent

Note that if you create multiple rules that apply to the same touchpoint, the credit weighting for the overlapping rules will be multiplied. As in the example above, if a second rule were applied that Branded Search was to be credited 0.1 as much as other touchpoints, those Branded Search touchpoints that also match the rule defined for Paid Search would receive 2 x 0.1 = 0.2 times as much credit as other touchpoints.

For examples of custom models, read About the Attribution Models.