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Let’s geek out on attribution

by

Google / February 15, 2018

Slow down big fella. Let’s all understand attribution before applying it to our Adwords campaigns.

You’ve probably started to hear a lot of talk about attribution: the practice of applying a conversion to different phases in a customer’s journey. Traditionally, in paid search campaigns, advertisers have credited conversions to the last click. In other words, they assume that the sale resulted 100 percent from the last ad a visitor clicked on, and they optimize accordingly.

A new feature in Adwords enables you to view your conversion data and adapt your bidding based on your attribution model of choice. Depending on your marketing mix, this may be crucial to understanding how different Adgroups keywords contribute to your revenue in order to adapt your bids and ad spend accordingly.

Let’s go back to basics for a minute

But before you start playing around with adjusting your bids based on attribution, it’s important understand the basics of attribution as it applies to your marketing ecosystem.

We know that the conversion often begins down the line, that a keyword search is just one step in a sometimes circuitous consumer journey. It often looks more like this:

  1. Erica sees a jacket on social media that piques her interest.
  2. A month later, she sees a display ad featuring the jacket, but doesn’t click
  3. However, she does a few searches and visits websites to compare prices
  4. These websites retarget her; she sees ads featuring the very jacket she wants
  5. A week later, Erica searches on the brand name, clicks on a search ad and buys the jacket

If we only credit the conversion to that final, branded search, we miss out on some critical data (and tactics) that led Erica to make that purchase.

Understanding your conversion path

If you are using a mix of display, retargeting, search and other ad types, you need to understand how each phase in the journey contributes to your website’s conversions. This is where your analytics data comes into the process. You can see detailed information about your conversion paths by viewing the Multi Channel Funnels Reports in the Conversion section of your Analytics account.

Preview of multi-channel attribution report.

Once you see how your own data contributes to conversions, it will be easier for you to understand and compare various Adwords attribution models. In the next post, we’ll outline the different attribution types used by Adwords, and show you how to figure out which attribution model best applies to your campaigns.

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