Guide to Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

Last Updated: June 29, 2022

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

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.

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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 Google Analytics 4 Intro

  1. What is GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – The Apps + Web Property?
  2. Key Benefits of Using Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Setup GA4 – Upgrade to GA4 – Implementation Tutorial
  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 & tutorial with FREE GA4 ebook
  8. Using the GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Test Property
  9. Google Analytics 4 Sub Properties Tutorial
  10. Google Analytics Account Hierarchy (Structure Explained)
  11. Roll up Property in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) – Tutorial
  12. GA4 vs GA4 360 – Pricing, Limits, Billing and More

#2 Google Analytics 4 Integrations

  1. How to connect GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Data Studio
  2. How to link GA4 (Google Analytics 4) with Google Ads
  3. How to link Google Search Console to Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. How to Install Google Analytics 4 on Shopify
  5. GA4 Firebase Integration – Correctly Add App Data Streams to GA4 Property

#3 Google Analytics 4 Events

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Event Tracking Setup Tutorial
  2. Understanding Event Parameters in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Recommended events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Enhanced measurement events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. Automatically collected events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  6. How to set up GA4 Custom Events via Google Tag Manager
  7. Events Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  8. How to rename events in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  9. How to use Google Analytics 4 Event Builder

#4 Google Analytics 4 Conversions

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

#5 Google Analytics 4 Dimensions

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Dimensions Tutorial
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Custom Dimensions Tutorial
  3. GA4 User Properties (User Scoped Custom Dimensions) – Tutorial
  4. Event Scoped Custom Dimensions in GA4 – Tutorial

#6 Google Analytics 4 Metrics

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Metrics Tutorial with Free Google Analytics 4 Ebook
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Custom Metrics Tutorial
  3. What are predictive metrics in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#7 Google Analytics 4 Ecommerce

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

#8 Google Analytics 4 Specialized Tracking

  1. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Enhanced Measurement Tracking Tutorial
  2. Cross Domain Tracking in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Setup Guide
  3. GA4 Site Search – Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics 4
  4. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Scroll Tracking Tutorial
  5. Self-referral Google Analytics 4 – Referral exclusion GA4
  6. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Data Import Tutorial
  7. Google Analytics 4 Content Grouping – Create Content Groups in GA4
  8. How to track single page apps in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#9 Google Analytics 4 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

#10 Google Analytics 4 Explorations

  1. Free Form Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Exploration Report
  2. How to use the user lifetime report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. How to use Path exploration report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Path analysis
  4. How to use Segment Overlap Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. How to use the Funnel Exploration Report in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) – Funnel Analysis
  6. Cohort Exploration Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  7. How to Create Landing Pages Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#11 Google Analytics 4 Advanced

  1. Understanding Google Analytics 4 Sessions
  2. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Measurement Protocol Tutorial
  3. How to build comparisons (advanced segments) in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Understanding Automated Insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  5. Understanding Channel Groupings in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  6. Understanding Data Sampling in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#12 Google Analytics 4 Reporting

  1. How to create custom insights in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  2. How to use Debug View report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

#13 Google Analytics 4 Attribution

  1. Guide to Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
  2. How to Change Attribution Models in GA4 (Google Analytics 4)?
  3. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Conversion Paths Report in Attribution
  4. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Model comparison report in Attribution
  5. Advertising Snapshot in GA4 (Google Analytics 4) Attribution

#14 Google Analytics 4 Audiences

  1. GA4 Audiences – Creating custom audience in Google Analytics 4
  2. How to create a remarketing audience in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  3. Understanding Audience Triggers in Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
  4. Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Predictive Audiences – Tutorial

#15 Google Analytics 4 BigQuery

  1. GA4 BigQuery – Connect Google Analytics 4 with BigQuery
  2. How to connect and export data from GA4 to BigQuery
  3. events_ & events_intraday_ tables in BigQuery for GA4 (Google Analytics 4)

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