Data-Driven vs. Last-Click Attribution in Google Ads. What's the Difference?

Data-Driven vs. Last-Click Attribution in Google Ads. What's the Difference?

I'm guessing your Google Ads account is recommending you switch your conversion tracking to data-driven attribution. Like most people, you are likely using last-click attribution at the moment and have no freaking clue what the difference really is. That is a pretty normal feeling. Let's dive deeper and help you make a more informed decision.


Attribution is the process of determining which touchpoints or interactions in a customer's journey contribute to a conversion. In Google Ads, there are two main types of attribution: data-driven attribution and last click attribution.

Data-Driven Attribution

Data-driven attribution is a machine learning model that uses the data from your Google Ads account to determine the value of each touchpoint in the customer journey. It takes into account a variety of factors, including the type of device, the location of the customer, and the time of day that the interaction occurred. Data-driven attribution can provide a more accurate picture of the customer journey and help you understand the role that each touchpoint plays in driving conversions.

Last Click Attribution

Last click attribution, on the other hand, gives all the credit for a conversion to the last ad that the customer interacted with before converting. This means that if a customer sees an ad for your product on their phone, but doesn't convert until they see the same ad on their laptop later that day, the conversion will be attributed to the laptop ad.

Pros & Cons

There are pros and cons to both data-driven attribution and last click attribution. Data-driven attribution can provide a more accurate representation of the customer journey, but it can also be more complex and may require more data to be effective. Last click attribution is simpler and easier to understand, but it may not accurately reflect the role that other touchpoints played in the customer's decision to convert.

Fortunately for all of us that are still confused, you can check the difference in attribution before deciding what is best. Go to "Tools & Settings" at the top of the screen. Then select "Attribution" under the "Measurement" column.

Review the different types of attribution

Next you will select "Model Comparison" on the lefthand side of the screen. The table on the screen will allow you to see the numbers of conversions Google is attributing based on the different attribution models. I typically go with the attribution model that shows the most conversions, but if you feel like that is not right for you, then go with the model that you believe is the most accurate.

model comparison google ads attribution
Choosing the right attribution model

Ultimately, the right attribution model for your business will depend on your goals and the data available to you. If you have a large amount of data and are looking for a more granular understanding of the customer journey, data-driven attribution may be the way to go. If you have less data or are just starting out with Google Ads, last click attribution may be a good place to start.

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