As most marketers who have been in the PPC game for a while know, attribution models in your data play a major role in tracking conversions and reporting. Attribution models are used to assign a specific interaction along the customer’s journey to a conversion. For example, in a First Click attribution model, the first interaction from the user would receive all the credit for the conversion.
In Universal Analytics, marketers had a selection between these attribution models:
- Data Driven
- Time Decay
- First Click
- Last Click
- Position Based
Now that Google Analytics (GA4) has taken over, several of the attribution models that we’ve become accustomed to have gone away. In October 2023, Google announced that calculated metrics will be replacing the first click, linear, time decay, and position-based attribution models.
What is a calculated metric?
Calculated metrics are designed to give business owners more customizations in their reporting based on their business needs. This can be created by combining a custom metric with a mathematical formula. If you have a standard GA4 property, you can create five calculated metrics, or if you have an Analytics 360 property you can create 50.
How will this impact conversion tracking?
You’ll need to adjust your attribution setups if you have first click, linear, time decay, or position-based attribution models in place. If you don’t adjust the setup, by default these will be changed to paid and organic data-driven models.
On the other hand, if you weren’t using any of the 4 retired attribution models, you don’t need to make any changes at this time.
If you are creating calculated metrics, set aside some time to test, document, and plan. Depending on your business goals, you may want to create and test a few different versions of calculated metrics to determine which is best for you. Also, make sure to note how you created the custom metric and discuss with your team how this metric will be used and interpreted.
What are the next steps?
With fewer predefined options to choose from, marketers who have utilized the retired attribution models will have to switch to another existing metric, or create their own. The good news is that it sounds like the most popular attribution models will be around to stay (for the time being at least!).
The next steps to consider are:
- If you have any of the retiring attribution models in place, change those in GA4 to one of the remaining models (data-driven and last click).
- If you want to have other attribution options, then you’ll need to create a calculated metric.
How to update the attribution models
Once logged into your GA4 account, click on the “Admin” button in the bottom left corner. Next, in the “Data display” card, select “Attribution settings”. Here you can select from data-driven and first click models.
Once you’ve completed this step, scroll down and link your Google Ads account if you haven’t already. Then, set your preferred conversion window. This determines the timeframe for which to apply an attribution to a conversion.
Lastly, click save.
How to create a calculated metric
Once logged into your GA4 account, click on the “Admin” button in the bottom left corner. Next, in the “Data display” card, select “Custom definitions”.
Next, select the “Calculated metrics” tab then “Create calculated metric”. Note: Calculated metrics will only be enabled if Google Ads is linked to the GA4 account.
At this stage, you’ll need to fill out the following information:
- API Name
- Unit of Measurement
Google provides examples of calculated metrics in this help doc, but we have another example below:
Pro tip: In the “formula” field, as you start typing, GA4 will automatically provide you with a list of predefined metrics:
Once this information has been filled in, don’t forget to click save!
Despite the growing pains marketers may be feeling with this latest GA4 update, the opportunities for customization and more specific data collection are growing. If a metric was not previously available, now marketers have the opportunity to create virtually exactly what they are looking for. This capability falls in line with one of the overarching goals of GA4 — customization of data measurement.
Latest posts by Madison Stevens (see all)
- Data Thresholding in GA4: Overview, Benefits, and Drawbacks - November 20, 2023
- GA4 Attribution Model Changes and What They Mean For Tracking Conversions - November 20, 2023
- Local Services Ads: Photo Guideline Updates - August 11, 2023