Google has announced updates coming soon to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) properties.
As of mid-October 2023, specific attribution models will be removed from the platform.
At the same time, Google is introducing a new “calculated metrics” feature that allows you to create custom metrics tailored to your business needs.
According to a statement from Google, the First Click, Linear, Time decay, and Position-based attribution models will be phased out for all GA4 properties next month.
The default attribution will switch to paid and organic data-driven models for any accounts currently using those models. Other models like Last Click will remain available.
Removing the rule-based attribution models marks a shift toward automated, AI-driven attribution in Google Analytics.
Implications Of Removing Rule-Based Attribution
Removing the four attribution models could impact marketers who have optimized campaigns and strategies around those models.
This could push Google Analytics users toward Google’s AI-powered attribution models. This reliance on Google’s proprietary systems could make it harder to understand how attribution works.
To offset this change, Google Analytics is launching calculated metrics – a way for users to combine standard or custom metrics using mathematical formulas.
As an example, Google said a calculated “Item margin” metric could subtract “Item COGS” from “Item price.”
“You can adjust any metric to fit your business needs or logic,” explains Google’s announcement. Calculated metrics allow weighting, discounting, and combining other metrics.
Utilizing Calculated Metrics
According to Google, calculated metrics enable direct decision-making by letting users incorporate fundamental business logic into the metrics.
Users with admin access can build up to five calculated metrics per standard property or 50 for Analytics 360 properties.
The new feature will be available across reports, explorations, and the Analytics API.
While calculated metrics provide more customization, there are potential downsides.
Allowing users to create complex calculated metrics could lead to confusion or inconsistencies across teams and reports.
Proper governance will ensure that calculated metrics are well-documented and structured logically. Users will likely need training on how to build metrics that provide actual value rather than overly complex formulas.
Preparing For The Changes
To avoid these changes, Google recommends auditing your existing attribution setups. Any reports or strategies relying on the four removed models must be transitioned to alternate attribution methods.
Testing different attribution models ahead of time is advised. Marketers should develop a plan for how calculated metrics will be created, managed, and utilized in their organization.
Google’s advanced notice of the changes gives analytics teams time to prepare. However, adapting workflows and strategies to align with Google’s evolving platform will remain an ongoing balancing act.
The changes reflect Google Analytics’ continued evolution as it adapts to a post-cookie world.
While rule-based attribution goes away, custom-calculated metrics provide more flexibility to tailor metrics to specific business use cases.
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