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Criticism Surrounding Google’s Shift from Last-Click Attribution Models

By: McKenna Timoneri    October 29, 2021

Recently, Google has made efforts to move away from popular last-click attribution models for conversion measurement. This shift has been met with some criticism from advertisers, as well as raised some concerns. Last-click attribution defines what led a user to convert as the last thing they clicked on, whereas what Google seems to be moving toward looking at every touchpoint in a user’s journey when considering why they converted.

Many believe this change contradicts much of what Google has been working toward regarding user privacy. By adopting attribution models that take a deeper look at users’ activity, Google is not exactly aligning itself with its recent privacy protection advocacy efforts. Since Google is still trying to maintain privacy protection for users, these models can only be fulfilled using users who are opt in or through advertisers offering up first-party user data to Google. Google is of course prompting advertisers to assist in this process, essentially gaining even more user data and posing the incentive to advertisers that they will in turn receive more accurate attribution models.

Advertisers are also displeased with the notion of having to rework established measurement tactics. Those that measure their business using last-click attribution potentially face having to adopt new ways of measuring and reporting with Google’s multi-touch attribution model shift. Although this new measurement model certainly has the potential to give more accurate insight into ad performance and conversions, companies and advertisers may feel comfortable in their current means of measurement or find last-click attribution to be simpler or more fitting to their measurement needs. This shift also furthers the challenge of comparing data across different popular platforms. Google’s recent measurement changes call for advertisers to practice some caution and trust with the company moving forward.