Google’s Attribution Reporting is Changing the Game…and it’s Easy

By: Caitlin Garcia and Samantha Bedford

Over the past year, Google has been working to improve the way they attribute performance from AdWords pay-per-click campaigns. They recently made updates to the way advertisers can set-up conversions allowing you to choose from a variety of new options.

Attribution Reporting in Google AdWords

For those of you less familiar with attribution, Google’s model allows advertisers to choose how much credit each click gets for their conversions. This setting is only applicable to the Search Network and Shopping conversions.

Anyone familiar with the age-old attribution discussion knows about the constant battle between first and last click. For years, those were the only options for reporting and the only ways advertisers were able to try to tell the digital performance story. If a user clicked on my ad first and eventually made a conversion action, give me credit…if a user clicked on my ad last and eventually made a conversion action, give me credit. Unfortunately, we’re missing a pretty big piece of the puzzle- what happened in between?

While you still have to rely on 3rd party tools to fully tell the story, Google is now allowing advertisers to be more strategic about the way they track conversions. Let’s run through the settings.

Attribution Settings

Let’s run through the attribution setting options.

Last Click: Gives all credit for the conversion to the last-clicked ad and corresponding keyword.

When using the last click model, you might notice a slight time lag between what’s reported in the “Conversions (current model)” column and the “Conversions” column for recent time periods. This lag eventually corrects itself.

First Click: Gives all credit for the conversion to the first-clicked ad and corresponding keyword.

Linear: Distributes the credit for the conversion equally across all clicks on the path.

Time Decay: Gives more credit to clicks that happened closer in time to the conversion. Credit is distributed using a 7-day half-life. In other words, a click 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as a click 1 day before a conversion.

Position-Based: Gives 40% of credit to both the first- and last-clicked ads and corresponding keyword, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other clicks on the path.

Data-Driven: Gives credit for conversions based on how people search for your business and decide to become your customers. It uses data from your account to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on your business goals. You can use data-driven attribution for website and Google Analytics conversions from Search Network campaigns.

Pico’s Attribution Recommendation

We have adopted a dual approach to attribution. If a client has enough historical conversion data, we absolutely recommend moving them to the data-driven setting. This will provide a much more clear picture of the way AdWords helps drive performance. However, as we’ve learned, a lot of clients just don’t have the volume to be able to use that feature yet.

As a back up to data-driven attribution, we recommend that you switch your setting to position-based. This will allow Google to provide partial credit to more than one role in the conversion funnel giving you a fairer picture of performance.

If you’re nervous about making the switch, you can compare your current conversions against any potential update. Go to Attribution reporting in the interface and play with the numbers based on your preference.

The best part outside of new more data-driven reporting is how easy it is to make these updates. Once you’ve selected the setting that makes the most sense for your business, it only takes a few clicks to update each conversion event you’ve created.

To change your conversion settings, drill into your current conversions under Tools – click on each Conversion – scroll down to Attribution Model and update…done!

Google Attribution Settings

As always, if you are looking for consultation or a digital marketing partner, Pico is here to help. Contact us to discuss your specific brand goals.

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