Guide to Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

What is a GA4 attribution model?

A GA4 attribution model is a rule or set of rules or a data-driven algorithm that is used to determine how conversion credit should be distributed to various marketing touchpoints on a conversion path.

A conversion path is a path taken by users to convert on your website and/or mobile app.

Where you can find attribution models in a GA4 property?

You can find attribution models in a GA4 property by navigating to any GA4 advertising report (Advertising Snapshot report, Model comparison report, Conversion paths report):

GA4 Advertising Reports 1

What are the various types of GA4 attribution models?

Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

The GA4 attribution models can be broadly classified into the following four categories:

  1. Cross-channel rules-based models.
  2. Ads-preferred rules-based model.
  3. Data-driven attribution model.
  4. Reporting attribution model.

Types of cross-channel rules-based attribution models in GA4

Following are the various cross-channel rules-based models available in GA4:

  1. Cross-channel last click
  2. Cross-channel first click
  3. Cross-channel linear
  4. Cross-channel position-based
  5. Time decay
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What is the Cross-channel last click attribution model in GA4?

Cross-channel last click attribution model in GA4

The Cross-channel last click attribution model gives 100% conversion credit to the last touchpoint on a conversion path.

This attribution model does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

At present, the Cross-channel last click attribution model is the only GA4 attribution model that you can export to your Google Ads account.

Following are the examples of conversion paths that show how the Cross-channel last click attribution model assign conversion credit to touchpoints:

Direct > Organic Search > Paid Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

Organic Search > Paid Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Paid Search > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoints are ignored.

Direct > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Direct’ gets 100% credit for the conversion as the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits.

Direct > Paid Search > Organic Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘organic search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

What is the Cross-channel first click attribution model in GA4?

Cross channel first click attribution model in GA4

The Cross-channel first click attribution model gives 100% conversion credit to the first touchpoint on a conversion path.

This attribution model does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

Following are the examples of conversion paths that show how the Cross-channel first click attribution model assign conversion credit to touchpoints:

Direct > Organic Search > Paid Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘Organic search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Organic Search > Paid Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Organic search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

Paid Search > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoints are ignored.

Direct > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Direct’ gets 100% credit for the conversion as the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits.

What is the Cross-channel linear attribution model in GA4?

Cross-channel linear attribution model in GA4

The Cross-channel linear attribution model gives equal conversion credit to all touchpoints on a conversion path. However, this attribution model does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

Following are the examples of conversion paths that show how the Cross-channel linear attribution model assign conversion credit to touchpoints:

Direct > Organic Search > Paid Search > Conversion 

// Here both ‘Organic search’ and ‘paid search’ gets 50% conversion credit each. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Organic Search > Paid Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here both ‘Organic search’ and ‘paid search’ gets 50% conversion credit each. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Paid Search > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoints are ignored.

Direct > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Direct’ gets 100% credit for the conversion as the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits.

Email > Paid Search > Organic Search > Social > Conversion 

// Here each marketing touchpoint gets 25% conversion credit. So ‘Email’ gets 25% conversion credit. ‘Paid search’ gets 25% conversion credit. ‘Organic search’ gets 25% conversion credit. ‘Social’ gets 25% conversion credit.

What is the Cross-channel position-based attribution model in GA4?

Cross-channel position-based attribution model in GA4

The Cross-channel position-based attribution model gives 40% conversion credit to the first touchpoint on a conversion path and 40% conversion credit to the last touchpoint on the conversion path.

The remaining 20% conversion credit is distributed evenly to the remaining touchpoints on the conversion path.

However, this attribution model does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

Following are the examples of conversion paths that show how the Cross-channel position-based attribution model assign conversion credit to touchpoints:

Email > Paid Search > Organic Search > Social > Conversion 

// Here ‘Email’ gets 40% conversion credit. ‘Social’ gets 40% conversion credit. ‘Paid search’ gets 10% conversion credit. ‘Organic search’ gets 10% conversion credit.

Email > Paid Search > Organic Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘Email’ gets 40% conversion credit. ‘Organic search’ gets 40% conversion credit. ‘Paid search’ gets 20% conversion credit. 

Paid Search > Organic Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘Paid search’ gets 50% conversion credit. ‘Organic search’ gets 50% conversion credit. 

Direct > Organic Search > Paid Search > Conversion 

// Here both ‘Organic search’ and ‘paid search’ gets 50% conversion credit each. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Organic Search > Paid Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here both ‘Organic search’ and ‘paid search’ gets 50% conversion credit each. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Paid Search > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% conversion credit. The ‘Direct’ touchpoints are ignored.

Direct > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Direct’ gets 100% credit for the conversion as the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits.

What is the Time decay attribution model in GA4?

Time decay attribution model in GA4

The GA4 Time decay attribution model gives more conversion credit to the touchpoints that occurred closer in time to the conversion. The conversion credit is distributed using 7-day half-life

So a touchpoint that occurred 8 days before a conversion gets half as much conversion credit as the touchpoint that occurred 1 day before the conversion. 

The time decay attribution model also does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

What is the Ads-preferred rules-based attribution model in GA4?

Ads-preferred last click attribution model in GA4

The Ads-preferred rules-based attribution model (also known as the Ads-preferred Last Click model) gives 100% conversion credit to the last Google Ads click on a conversion path.

If there is no Google Ads click on a conversion path then the last touchpoint on the conversion paths gets 100% credit for the conversion. 

However, the Ads-preferred rules-based attribution model does not give conversion credit to direct visits unless the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits. 

Following are the examples of conversion paths that show how the Ads-preferred rules-based attribution model assign conversion credit to touchpoints:

Direct > Organic Search > Paid Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

Organic Search > Paid Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoint is ignored.

Paid Search > Direct > Social > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion. The ‘Direct’ touchpoints are ignored.

Direct > Direct > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘Direct’ gets 100% credit for the conversion as the conversion path is made up entirely of direct visits.

Email > Paid Search > Organic Search > Conversion 

// Here ‘paid search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

Email > Social > Organic Search > Direct > Conversion 

// Here ‘organic search’ gets 100% credit for the conversion.

Note: You can not export the Ads-preferred rules-based attribution model to Google Ads. This model is available only for reporting purposes.

What is the Data-driven attribution model in GA4?

The data-driven attribution model in GA4 assigns conversion credit to marketing touchpoints on a conversion path based on the observed data for each conversion type from your GA4 property.

At this point, the data-driven attribution model is not available in a GA4 property. But according to Google, it will be available soon.

What is the Reporting Attribution Model in GA4?

GA4 reporting attribution model

GA4 uses the reporting attribution model to calculate conversion credit in all of your GA4 reports. By default, GA4 uses the cross-channel last-click model as the reporting attribution model. 

However, you can also use the ads-preferred last-click model as the reporting attribution model (not recommended).

To learn more about changing the reporting attribution model in GA4 check out this article: How to Change Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)?

#1 GA4 Intro

  1. What is GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – The App + Web Property?
  2. Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. How to upgrade to GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  4. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs Universal Analytics – What is the difference?
  5. Google Signals GA4 – See demographics (gender, age) in Google Analytics 4
  6. Understanding Google Analytics Measurement ID (GA4)
  7. Google Analytics 4 training and tutorial
  8. Using the GA4 test property

#2 GA4 Integration

  1. How to connect GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Data Studio
  2. How to link GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Ads
  3. GA4 BigQuery – Connect Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery

#3 GA4 Events

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Event Tracking Setup Tutorial
  2. How to set up GA4 Custom Events via Google Tag Manager
  3. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Enhanced Measurement Tracking Tutorial
  4. Events Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. GA4 User Properties (User Scoped Custom Dimensions) – Tutorial
  6. Event Scoped Custom Dimensions in GA4 – Tutorial

#4 GA4 Conversions

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Conversion Tracking Guide
  2. How to import conversions from GA4 property to your Google Ads account

#5 GA4 Dimensions and Metrics

  1. GA4 Metrics Tutorial with Free Google Analytics 4 Ebook
  2. GA4 Custom Metrics Tutorial
  3. GA4 Dimensions Tutorial
  4. GA4 Custom Dimensions Tutorial

#6 GA4 Ecommerce

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Ecommerce Tracking via GTM – Tutorial

#7 GA4 Specialized Tracking

  1. Cross Domain Tracking in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Setup Guide
  2. GA4 Site Search – Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics 4
  3. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Scroll Tracking Tutorial
  4. How to Install Google Analytics 4 on Shopify
  5. Self-referral Google Analytics 4 – Referral exclusion GA4
  6. GA4 Data Import Tutorial

#8 GA4 filters

  1. GA4 filters – Understanding data filters in Google Analytics 4
  2. How to create and test filters in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?
  3. Exclude internal traffic in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) via IP filter

#9 GA4 Analysis Hub

  1. Analysis Hub Google Analytics – Exploration Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  2. How to use the user lifetime report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. How to use path analysis report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. How to use Segment Overlap Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. How to use the Funnel Analysis Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#10 GA4 Advanced

  1. How to use Debug View report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  2. Understanding GA4 measurement protocol
  3. How to create a remarketing audience in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. GA4 Audiences – Creating custom audience in Google Analytics 4
  5. How to build comparison (Advanced segment) in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#11 GA4 Reporting

  1. How to create custom insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

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