What is data-driven attribution?

What is data-driven attribution?
Driving relevant traffic to your website is a major marketing goal to grow your business. But a customer’s journey is often complex as they can have multiple interactions with your brand before making a purchase. So, how do you know which marketing channel is the most valuable? Which ads are getting you those all-important conversions? 

Before a customer actually makes a purchase on your website, the reality is that they may have clicked or interacted with several of your ads and it could have been from different devices over the day. You need to accurately track that. 

Traditional attribution models generally give credit for a conversion to the last ad that a customer clicked on, disregarding all other clicks that went before that ultimately got the customer there. Because you don’t have the entire click story of the customer’s journey or intent, you are not actually sure which ad actually made them choose your business or convert. 

(It is much like a hockey game: the player who scores the goal gets the credit – but what about the other team players and the journey the ball took on the field from player to player to get to the point where that final player could hit the ball past the goalie? They are all as important in contributing to the final result and should get some credit).

Data-driven attribution (DDA) is machine-learning technology that helps performance marketers by doing the heavy lifting of allocating the correct amount of credit to each touchpoint in the customer journey that leads to conversions. It clears the wood for the trees – giving you a holistic view and all the conversion insights you need in determining which ads, keywords and campaigns are having the greatest impact and assigning different values to the different touchpoints along the conversion path. 

Because the DDA algorithms evaluate converting and non-converting paths of a customer’s journey, they provide comprehensive and accurate data. By assessing each touchpoint (interaction between a customer and your marketing channels) along the customer’s click journey, you are able to better assess your campaign success and achieve your business goals. 

You can use the data-driven attribution model for website, store visits, and Google Analytics conversions from Search Network campaigns.

The Benefits of Data-Driven Attribution:

Having the comprehensive DDA info available to you will result in the following benefits:

  • Better budget allocation for your marketing campaigns.
  • Better understanding of how all your digital channels work together.
  • Better insights into your audience so you can make smarter decisions.
  • Better strategy as to which attribution model is best for your business.
  • Better justification and optimization of your marketing spend.
  • Better understanding of which channels bring you your best customers. 

The guesswork is removed because DDA helps you understand the customer journey whether they made a purchase or not, and you are able to ascertain which keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns are playing the biggest role in getting customers to convert and helping you reach your business goals.  

How Data-Driven attribution works:

The DDA model differs from the other attribution models in that it uses your conversion data to calculate the actual contribution of each ad interaction across the conversion path. Each data-driven model is specific to each advertiser.

Data-driven attribution doesn’t just look at the first interaction (giving 100% credit to conversions that initiated the conversion path) or the last interaction (giving 100% credit to the last click that converted the customer), it looks at all the clicks on your Google Search ads. 

The added value of comparing the paths of customers who convert to the paths of those who don’t mean that the DDA model identifies patterns among those ad interactions and customer journeys that lead to conversions. 

There may be specific touchpoints along the customer’s journey that may have a higher probability of leading that customer to convert and make a purchase. The DDA model then assigns more credit to those touchpoint interactions along the customer’s path – helping you get the whole story and helping you understand your audience’s interactions/clicks along their user journey and providing information that is invaluable for optimizing and creating effective marketing campaigns and boosting ROIs. 

As you evaluate the conversion data, you’ll quickly be able to determine which ads have the greatest effect in helping you grow your business. And if you use an automated bid strategy to drive more conversions, your bidding will use this important information to help you get more conversions.


You own a tour company in New York City, and you use conversion tracking to track when customers purchase tickets on your website. In particular, you have one conversion action to track purchases of a bike tour in Brooklyn. Customers often click a few of your ads before deciding to purchase a ticket.

Your “Data-driven” attribution model finds that customers who click your “Bike tour New York” ad first and then later click “Bike tour Brooklyn waterfront” are more likely to purchase a ticket than users who only click on “Bike tour Brooklyn waterfront.” So the model redistributes credit in favor of the “Bike tour New York” ad and its associated keywords, ad groups, and campaigns.

Now, when you look at your reports, you have more complete information about which ads are most valuable to your business.

For more detailed information on how data-driven attribution works, download the Data-driven attribution methodology PDF


Data-driven attribution requires a certain amount of data to create a precise model for how your conversions should be attributed. Because of this, not all advertisers will see the “Data-driven” model. As a general guideline, for this model to be available, you must have at least 3,000 Google.com search clicks in supported networks, and a conversion action must have at least 300 conversions within 30 days. We can start preparing a data-driven model from the moment you receive the minimum necessary attribution data. Once we have collected sufficient data for the model for 30 consecutive days, you’ll see the data in Google Ads. If you don’t have enough data, you won’t see an option to use data-driven attribution.

Because eligibility for data-driven attribution is determined by the data for each conversion action, you may see data-driven attribution for some of your conversion actions, and not for others.

Once you’re using data-driven attribution, you won’t be able to continue using this model if your data drops below 2,000 ad interactions in supported networks or below 200 conversions for the conversion action within 30 days. You’ll receive an alert when your data drops below this level, and after 30 days of continued low data, your conversion action will be switched to the “Linear” attribution model. If the decrease in data is unexpected, you may want to check your conversion tracking tag, the status on your “Conversion actions” page, your conversion action settings, and other account settings to make sure everything is working properly.

If data-driven attribution isn’t available to you, Google Ads offers other attribution models that don’t have data requirements. Learn more About attribution models.

When you’re trying data-driven attribution, or any new non-last-click attribution model, we recommend that you test the model first and see how it affects your return on investment.

Case Studies:

(e-commerce business in Europe)

Before 6/1-21/1 After 23/1-6/2
Conversions 519 598 15% Up
Revenue €22325 €31337 40% Up
ROAS 464% 564% 21.7% up
CPC €0.30 €0.29 3% down
Assisted conversions 297 371 25% up
Assisted conversion value 12585 19724 57% Up 


The biggest impact was seen on generic search campaigns with an increase of 24% in roas while shopping ROAS grew by 9.5%. On the other hand, shopping campaigns scaled up significantly in terms of volume driving significantly more revenue growth of 76% compared to 18%.  

For a lead generation client we saw the following results: 

Before 12/01- 01/02 After 02/02 – 22/02
Conversions 1,880 1,659 13.32% Up
CPL R88.01 R79.37 10.89% Up
CPC R11.00  R9.38 17.26% Up
Assisted conversions 903 946 4.55% Down

Slightly more conversions attributed to Generic and Competitor campaigns with slightly fewer conversion attributed to the Brand campaign

To learn more about DDA or how to select the relevant attribution model for your conversion actions, read about attribution models.

About Prebo Digital

Prebo Digital is a Performance-driven Marketing Agency and our finger is on the pulse when it comes to changes on the evolving digital landscape. As partners in growing your business, we are committed to developing your online marketing strategy and achieving your goals by blending innovation, expertise and efficiency. 

If you need help in the implementation of a DDA solution or in the streamlining of your digital marketing strategy, our dynamic team of experts can advise you.

Get in touch today.

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