Straight From The Pros

Understanding AdWords Attribution Models and How They Can Improve Your Conversions

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Paid Media

Updated Date: February 2, 2024

No individual player can win a team sport game by themselves, victory is always the result of a team effort. Yet how many games have sports fans watched and then gave credit for a win to one superstar player?

We often forget to recognize that the superstars have a whole team behind them. With the right teammates, every superstar player can get the assistance needed to win games and it is the same with PPC (pay-per-click) advertising — success is always a team effort!

In AdWords, we can now measure each keyword on their contribution to your overall goal. Yes, you will have your superstar keywords, but the question many advertisers don’t ask themselves is what keywords are assisting our high-converting keywords. In other words, which keywords are crucial to the supporting team behind the superstar keyword?

Yes, all of us would like every click to result in a conversion, but we all know this is not, and never will be, the case. It takes multiple clicks prior to a conversion. This is why it is critical to find your contributor keywords. Once you find the keywords assisting your superstars you can increase their bids or implement an automated bidding strategy that will do it for you.

Six Attribution Models with Six Different Purposes

Attribution modeling is the best way to find and sort these contributors and superstars to implement an effective bidding strategy. The six attribution models available in AdWords will attribute credit to the keywords within the conversion path.

  • Last click attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the last keyword that was clicked on prior to the conversion. This is our default attribution model within AdWords.
  • First click attribution model gives 100% credit to the first keyword that was clicked on within the conversion path.
  • Linear attribution model distributes the credit for the conversions equally across all clicks on the path.
  • Time decay attribution model heavily credits the clicks closest in time to the conversions.
  • Position based attribution model gives credits based upon the click’s position in the path.
  • Data-driven attribution distributes credit for conversions based on past data for conversion actions. This is only available for accounts with sufficient previous data.

For an example, let’s look at the Awesome Electronics online store when the AdWords default last click attribution model is used.

Last click conversion model

In this scenario, the search for “great tech gifts,” “highly rated tablets” and “nexus 9 tablet” are all in within the conversion path but “nexus 9 tablet” is credited 100% for the conversions since that is the last click prior to the Nexus 9 tablet purchase.

If Awesome Electronics decided to switch their attribution model over to the position based model, then the credit for the conversions would be spread out among the conversion path based on its position.

example of position based attribution

In the position based attribution model, Awesome Electronics can give more credit for their Nexus 9 tablet sales based on the first and last clicks within the conversion path, while everything in the middle evenly splits less of the credit.

This is a great attribution model for Awesome Electronics online store if they want to focus on the clicks that begin and end customers down the conversion path.

If Awesome Electronics has a sufficient amount of data, they can become eligible for the data-driven attribution model which compares the paths of customers that convert to the paths of those that don’t convert.

The model identifies patterns among the clicks that lead to conversions. There may be certain steps along the way that have a higher probability of leading customers to conversions. The model then gives more credit to the valuable clicks that lead customers down the path toward a purchase.

data driven attribution model

In order for Awesome Electronics to be eligible for this model, they will need to have at least 20,000 clicks and 800 conversions within a 30-day time frame.

The biggest question advertisers have is which is the correct attribution model to use and the answer is: it depends on the focus of the account.

Think of a spectrum where one side is more conservative compared to the other side that is more growth-oriented.

different spectrums of attribution modeling

If the advertiser wants to focus on getting as many customers as possible started down the conversion path, then the first click model will be best. On the other hand, if the advertiser wants to focus only on the clicks that take place before the conversion, then the last click model is the best option.

V Digital Services

Many advertisers in the PPC world tend to only focus on the superstar keywords while forgetting about the supporting team of keywords behind them.

If you find yourself struggling with conversions in any AdWords accounts, V Digital Services can help you understand the full picture of your keywords. For example, there may be some keywords that have less last click conversions, but many assisted conversions.

By attributing more value to the entire “team” of keywords, we can assist those “superstar” keywords to win more conversions for your business.

Please contact us for more information.