Attribution Model

Table of Contents

On the path to a conversion, a customer may do multiple searches and interact with multiple ads from the same advertiser. Attribution models let you choose how much credit each click gets for your conversions. You can attribute the credit to the customer’s first click, last click, or a combination of multiple clicks.

In this blog, I’m going to explain what attribution is and outline the different attribution models available to take advantage of.

What is Attribution

Attributions help you understand how people engage with   your different marketing channels before  they convert. And there are options that let you control how each of those different  marketing touch points receives credit after the conversion occurred. For example, if someone found your website by clicking on an ad, and then returned to your website via an organic search result before converting, In this case, which touch-point should receive the credit for the conversion? The ad? The organic search results Or both? The attribution reports help you to understand this path to conversion. And you can apply and compare different attribution models in Google Analytics.

Attribution Model

What is it?

When to use it?



Last click

100% attribution value to the last touch point.Useful for un-complex campaigns or as benchmark with assist conversion or advanced attribution models.Previous channels may have played an important role in the conversion. but by ignoring all touchpoints aside from the last, you cannot see the value they add, resulting in a skewed perspective of marketing efforts.

Last Paid Click

100% attribution value to the last paid touch point.To attribute conversion value to the budget spent. | Use it for understanaing channels that directly impact conversions.It’s still quite basic and doesn’t consider the varying performances of touchpoints.


First Click Paid

100% attribution value to the first paid touch point.

Used for branding campaigns and determine the look back window.

Use it for understanding channels that impact brand awareness

By assigning all the credit to just one touchpoint, you are unable to measure the performance of other channels that assisted the conversion.


Linear Attribution Model

This is the first model we’re looking at that makes use of multi or mixed attribution – or in other words – where we split credit across multiple touch points. The linear model is simple – credit is evenly divided across all of the different touch points used to find your website that led to the conversion.  

Time decay

Attribute more value to the touch points near the actual conversion in time.Used for special promotions. E.g. Black Friday.The model attributes little value to the touchpoints that introduced the customer to your brand and is unable to give you the full picture of your channel performance.

U-Shaped Attribution

40% of the credit gets assigned to the first and last touchpoints. Use it if you place higher value on awareness and conversion.Use it if you place higher value on awareness and conversion. 

W-Shaped Attribution

30% of the credit gets assigned to the first and last touchpoints, as well as middle lead conversion touchpointUse it if vou’re focused on lead generation 

Position based

Determine a manual-fixed contribution value, can be equally distributed (linear position based).Used to optimize budget after the on-air (or campaign history) measuring each touch point.U-shaped attribution largely ignores touchpoints in the middle of the sales funnel. This can be problematic if these touchpoints are important to your campaign, and if they perform better than you think.

Custom data driven

Dynamic Al driven attribution rules based on calculations and algorithms. Can be half-manual or automatic outputs.Computer aid optimization of budget after the on-air (or campaign history) measuring each touch point.Where budgets permit, this should be the first choice for any marketing team. The downside can be an additional cost, although this could easily be offset by the higher ROl on a marketing budget.





Google Ads Last Click Attribution Model

This is very similar to the last-click attribution model, but if there is a touchpoint from Google Ads in the conversion path then Google Ads will receive full credit for the conversion. I also wanted to mention, there are a couple of differences depending on the version of Google Analytics you’re using. If you’re using Universal Analytics, then there are two last-click attribution models. One that is called ‘Last Interaction’ and another called ‘Last Non-Direct Interaction’. The ‘Last Interaction’ model will give credit to direct traffic if it’s the final touchpoint. If you’re using Google Analytics 4 (GA4), then the last-click attribution model will ignore direct traffic for the final touchpoint. 
Attribution Models
Image Courtesy Searchengineland

About the Author

Zabi Niazi - Director of Search Marketing SEM and SEO

Hands-on execution & Revenue-focused digital marketer with expertise in Design & Operations centered around people, processes & technology engineering a Demand-Gen Engine capable of delivering innovative experiences that tell the brand story and map to the buyer's journey generating awareness, acquisition, retention, and advocacy.