An Open Letter to Google: It’s Time to Make a Change

Susan Esparza  /  
February 6, 2018
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The average customer journey before conversion is 6 touches. Or maybe it’s 13. Or perhaps 8.  Ask a dozen marketers how many times a customer interacts with their brand before purchase and you’re sure to get two dozen answers.

The one thing that every marketer from the newest intern to the most experienced CMO agrees on is that the answer is definitely not “one touch”.

Another thing that marketers agree on: every time a customer sees an ad, reads a tweet, likes a post, or watches a video, that contributes to their decision making.

This is not new information. Customer journeys have been growing longer and more complex for years. Today’s customer is a cross-device, multi-channel, multi-moment, sophisticated researcher who interacts with your brand many ways from search to social, to display to email before they purchase.

So why is the default attribution model in Google Analytics still “last non-direct click”?

Let’s be clear. Last click attribution is almost never the right answer. But marketers are fundamentally busy. They want to just get started and they trust Google’s expertise in analytics (quite understandably. Google is Really Good at Analytics.) If Google has set the default option to Last Click, well, there must be a reason.

The reason is ease (it’s really easy to track last click without setting up anything special.)

The reason is speed.

The reason is legacy.

The reason is it’s been good enough so far.

But Google, it’s not good enough anymore. Last click attribution hurts you. It hurts advertisers. It hurts publishers. It tells lies about the value of media (Did my YouTube campaign actually work? No one bought anything off it. Am I wasting my time on these programmatic ads? I don’t see any clickthroughs.)

Google, you can improve the lives of marketers and small businesses with just one simple switch.

Make some other model the default. You have seven models in Google Analytics (Free) alone, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Change the default from Last Touch to Linear Attribution. Or to Time Decay. Or to Position Based.  All of those are better for giving a marketer short on time a better idea of how their efforts are going. Yes, it won’t be as quick or easy to set up, but it will be closer to the honest, actionable, organized data that serves all parties.

Marketers, Stop Defaulting

Google isn’t the only one with a responsibility here. Whether you’re leading a massive team or you’re a one man show in a small business, whether you’re relying on Google Analytics free version or you have invested in Google Analytics 360, you must put in the time and effort to understand what your analytics is telling you and what it’s missing.

Analytics products are tools and a tool only works as well as the person using it. It is worth your time and budget to invest in making sure that you are getting the top performance out of your tools.

It’s been years since Last Click Attribution was the only available model. Customers have changed. Technology has changed. It is time now for marketers and Google to catch up to those changes.

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