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Free Google Attribution At Long Last

Free Google Attribution at last image
Free Google Attribution - image courtesy of Google

Google Announcement

So now we hear that Google will provide a free version of Google Attribution, and it should go down well with all marketing teams.

Last click attribution was always the weak factor in Google Analytics. It is common to acknowledge that most users will browse, or be interrupted by varying channels, before deciding to return, most likely on a brand term, to complete their purchase or complete an enquiry form and the like.

Sure, there have been many “paid” tools about for several years that enabled marketers to see beyond the last click and gain a better insight into the customer journey. But with Google being the Goliath of the search world that it is, Google providing this tool for free is a much more attractive proposition.

Customer Journey

Several years ago, my team at the time developed our own tool to gain a much better understanding of the customer journey. In principle, it was based on hijacking the Google cookie and creating our own cookie-based system which was deployed on every client website. This allowed us to view visits from emails, adverts, organic search etc. which were all time stamped by date and exact minute and second.

We could build up the precise customer journey and extract the latency time (in months, weeks, days, hours) between someone receiving and viewing an email (or multiple emails) through to clicking on an Ad (which Ad creative, with which keyword and its position in the SERPs), and then in most cases, which organic search keyword they used (and it’s ranking position) to return to the website and complete their transaction.

Granted, it wasn’t the best at tracking cross-device visits from the same user (what tool was back then), but it certainly was better than last click attribution that Google Analytics offered. Of course, the tool became a bit unstuck when Google went fully https and all the data they previously supplied in their own cookie or through their search URL and query string started disappearing.

Think With Google

As marketers, we had the “Think With Google Customer Journey” tool to provide some reassurance of what our experience was telling us (or data if you were lucky to have it), so we could base our digital channel selection and budgets on depending on where in the journey each sat.

Think with Google example image

In reality, this was only an estimation and fair warning was given by the tool through the use of words such as “tend”, “typical” and “likely”.

So I for one, am happy to hear the news of the free version of Google Attribution.

With AI and ML becoming more intertwined in Google’s own search engine and I am sure most systems in the future, we digital marketers continue to need real insight into customers so we can offer real ROI results for clients - Google Attribution will go some way to facilitating this.

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on the free version, I sure Google will happily take your money for the enterprise version of Google Analytics 360, which is where it all started after Google acquired Adometry in 2014.

About the author

David Reid

David Reid

David previously worked with Europe’s No.1 Marketing Agency & the World’s No.6 biggest Integrated Marketing Agency, seeing first-hand how £150 million+ campaigns are executed to create household brands. Now he is the CEO of a specialist marketing agency helping companies of all sizes.

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