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Keywords & AdWords Attribution: Give credit to the right keywords, at the right time


Google AdWords / August 25, 2017

In our third series on applying attribution to Google Adwords, we’re going to explain how the keywords you use affect attribution, and how to change your attribution settings in order to test different models live.

Early influence versus late influence

Adwords breaks keywords into two lists, based on their place in the click path. Each has a role and a unique value in the consumer journey.

Early influence keywords are generic terms, the keywords potential customers use when they want to learn about a product or service. These are the words people search on when they may not be ready to convert. Early influence keywords have a higher cost per click because more brands are competing against one another on keywords that reference products or services that they all have in common.

Late influence keywords are primarily brand terms, used by searchers once they’re familiar with a brand, or who are closer to purchasing. People search on these keywords when they are evaluating or comparing specific products, brands or prices. Late influence keywords are generally less expensive because they only apply to a specific brand or product name that’s relevant to fewer advertisers than a generic term may be.

Now apply your attribution model

Here is where Adwords Attribution Modeling Tool comes into play: Go to Tools > Attribution > Attribution Modeling in your account and explore how the different available attribution models affect your cost per conversion for your brand and generic keywords.

You very likely will find that last click attribution is ideal for your brand keywords but that other attribution models are more suitable for your generic keywords. You may ultimately opt for a combined attribution model that takes into consideration the contribution of keywords at different phases of a consumer’s journey.

Reconsider your early influence keywords

Since you were likely operating on a last click attribution model, it’s possible that you paused many of your early influence keywords because they didn’t appear to deliver enough value. We recommend that you revive your generic keywords and test them using an attribution model such as linear or time decay to see if this gives them more value. Remember: there will be a lag between first click and conversion. So be patient and give these keywords time to truly show their value.  

How to change and view your attribution model

To change your attribution model, go to Conversions in the top navigation, then click on the conversion type, in the Name column. When you click Edit settings on this page you will be able to adjust your Attribution type.

Now go to your standard campaigns report, click on Columns and select Modify columns. Under Select metrics, click on Attribution and select Conversions (current model). This column will apply your current attribution model to your conversions. Use this column to compare with your Conversions column to see how your current attribution model would impact historic conversion data.

Test, Test, Test!

Testing attribution models as they apply to your keywords enables you to uncover new opportunities in previously undervalued early influence keywords. Once you break away from a last click model, you will see how these keywords are in fact contributing to your campaign’s overall success. In turn, this will arm you with the data you need to bid based on the actual conversion value of your early influence keywords.


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Doriane Nasarre

Digital Strategist @ Bloom


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