GA4 & Attribution: Turn Your Old Thinking On its Head

by Joy Brazelle

You hear a lot of mixed reviews about GA4 these days.  But one of my favorite things about GA4 is it gives you the opportunity and ability to turn your old thinking on its head.

With GA4, you no longer focus on (outdated) things like page views and sessions. Now, everything is more interaction (event) based, so someone interacting with your website, and then your app, or vice versa.  It’s a different way of thinking, a current way of thinking.  And with it comes a different data model.  I won’t bore you with all of the details of why this needed to happen and how it did.  (But if you really want to know, you can see it here).

Plus,  rather than migrating everything over and just kind of bolting new functionality and new features on top, GA4, gives you the ability to really take a step back and think about how you should be thinking about tracking, analytics, and attribution.  It’s a great time to take this step back, and think about the world before it became so complicated, crazy, and so overwhelming with different types of options. Think about attribution like it’s 2010, before there was really the concept of attribution built into analytics.

With GA4 today, you can still pick your model.  But you only have two options. You have the  cross-channel last click model.  This gives all of the credit for conversions –  all the conversions, not just sales, to the last channel clicked before the conversion. Your second option is also based on last click, but what’s called Ads Preferred.  This is very specific, only focusing on Google ads. Both of these  models exclude direct traffic (anybody who typed your domain in the browser directly, or has your site bookmarked) UNLESS that’s the only option.  So there is still the last non direct concept. This  is a  good thing.

But some people might see this and say, ‘wtf where did all my choices go?’  Don’t worry, you can see them in the Model Comparison Tool in the Advertising section  And there are so many cool things being built in to the Advertising reports – like ‘days to’ and ‘touchpoints to’ conversions by path in the Conversion Paths report.  And, don’t get me started on what the funnel looks like now.  Spoiler alert – it may not be so funnel-ey anymore.  

Joy Brazelle

Solutions Lead

I’ve spent over 18 years helping clients use analytics to improve the performance of their websites , SEO, paid search and other marketing programs, with a brief detour to the FinTech worlds to see how alternative payment options impact the very, very bottom of the funnel.

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