When determining the best way to track Google Ads conversions, there are two choices: Data-Driven and Last Click attribution. Google Ads recommend Data-Driven, but is that the best option for you? Here is what we have found.

How Do Attribution Models Affect Car Dealer’s Google Ads?

Before we dive in, what exactly are these attribution models and how do they affect a car dealer’s Google ads? So glad you asked!

Attribution models in Google Ads help advertisers understand how different touchpoints contribute to a conversion. In the context of automotive PPC, where customer journeys can be complex, attribution models allow marketers to assign credit to various ad interactions that lead up to a sale, AKA a lead.

Data-Driven Attribution Model

Data-Driven attribution will spread the conversion credit across all of the search ads in the path. It uses advanced machine learning algorithms to analyze historical conversion data and determine the most effective touchpoints in driving conversions. This model adapts to changes in consumer behavior and search patterns, offering insights into how different ad interactions contribute to the final conversion. It’s particularly useful in understanding the holistic impact of your dealership’s advertising strategy.

How Many Conversions Are Needed for Data-Driven Attribution?

Google requires a minimum number of conversions to use the Data-Driven Attribution Model effectively. Typically, for a car dealership, this means having at least 600 conversions within 30 days across all PPC campaigns, with at least 15,000 clicks. These thresholds for car dealer Google ads ensure there’s enough data for the machine learning algorithms to analyze and make accurate attribution decisions.

Last Click Attribution Model

Last Click attribution will only assign credit to the last search ad in the path. 100% of the credit for a conversion is given to the last touchpoint a user interacted with before converting. It’s popular for its simplicity and direct approach, especially in scenarios where the sales cycle is short or when immediate conversions are a priority.

What is a Potential Drawback with Last Click Attribution?

A significant drawback of Last Click attribution is its tendency to ignore the influence of initial touchpoints in the customer’s decision-making process. For a car dealership, this means undervaluing the impact of early-stage ads, like those raising awareness about new models or offers, focusing only on the last ad that drove the conversion.

What is the Difference Between Data-Driven Attribution Model and Last Click Attribution Model?

The Data-Driven Attribution Model for car dealer Google Ads distributes conversion credit across all search ads that played a role in the conversion path, using machine learning to evaluate which ads were most influential. For a car dealer, this could mean attributing credit to various ads showcasing different car models or promotions. In contrast, the Last Click Attribution Model credits the final ad clicked before the conversion. For example, if a customer clicks on an ad for a specific car model and then converts, that ad receives full credit, potentially overlooking earlier interactions.

Should I Switch to Data-Driven Attribution Google Ads?

Data-driven attribution provides a more accurate representation of the customer’s path but can be complex and may require more data to be effective for car dealer Google ads. Last Click attribution is simpler and easier to understand, but it may not accurately reflect the role that other keywords played in the conversion.

If time is of the essence in your reporting, it’s important to note that Data-Driven conversions can take up to 14 days after the month has ended to get a true count. Meanwhile, Last Click conversion takes closer to 5-7 days after the month has ended for a true total.

For this reason alone, we lean more towards the Last Click model, so we can quickly review the monthly report shortly after the month has ended. Not everyone wants to wait up to two weeks to get a true conversion total.

As a marketer, the path the customer took to convert may be helpful to know, but if you just need to report on monthly numbers and see them as quickly as possible, we recommend going with the Last Click attribution model for car dealer Google ads.

Are There Other Attribution Models to Consider for Car Dealer Google Ads?

Once upon a time there were a handful of other Google Ads attribution models that advertisers could use to understand how different touchpoints contribute to conversions, but those days are gone.

The search engine giant discontinued all but two attribution models in June of 2023, leaving behind Last Click and Data-Driven as the only two options.

The Fallen Google Ads Attribution Models Included:

First Click Attribution: This gave all the credit for the conversion to the first ad that a customer clicked on.

Linear Attribution: The credit for the conversion is evenly distributed across all the ads that the customer clicked on during their journey.

Time Decay Attribution: This model gave more credit to the ads that were clicked on closer in time to the conversion. Ads that a customer interacted with days or weeks before the conversion receive less credit.

Position-Based Attribution (or U-Shaped Attribution): This model assigns 40% of the credit to both the first and last clicked ads and the remaining 20% is distributed evenly across the other clicks in the middle.

May these sunsetted attribution models ever rest in peace.


Choosing the right attribution model for your automotive PPC and Google Ads strategy is crucial. While the Last Click model offers simplicity and quicker reporting, the Data-Driven model provides a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey.

For car dealerships, where purchase decisions are often influenced by multiple touchpoints, understanding the full path to conversion can be invaluable. Consider your dealership’s specific needs, the complexity of customer interactions, and your reporting timelines to make the best choice.

Worried about staying on top of Google’s ongoing updates and making the best decisions for your dealership’s paid search ads? Our dedicated team of PPC experts is ready to kick your campaigns into overdrive. Contact Dealer Authority today!

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