Ep 7: Conversion Attribution Models In Google Ads

attribution conversion google ads models podcast Jul 17, 2020

On this episode of Marketing In 10, I’m talking about Google Ads conversion attribution modeling. What’s the best way to make sure that you’re assigning the conversions to the right campaigns? We’re going to talk about that. Now

Hey everyone, this is Jim Lastinger, hope that you’re having a great week so far. We’re going to be talking about Google Ads conversion attribution modeling and the different options that you have available there. So attribution models are all about making sure that you’re assigning conversion credit to the right campaigns. Okay, so the easiest way to think about this is if you have multiple campaigns in your account, say you have a shopping campaign, a remarketing campaign, a search campaign, and you have a customer that makes a purchase, but they’ve clicked on two different ads. Maybe they’ve clicked on the shopping ad, maybe they’ve clicked on search ad. How do you know which of those campaigns actually drove the sale? The attribution modeling tries to accurately assign credit for that sale to the campaigns that drove the customer to the site. So today we’re specifically talking about Google Ads.

You can go into a bigger discussion of attribution modeling across different channels, like search, organic search versus paid search, but we’ll leave that for another episode. If you’re unsure of what attribution model you’re using now, or if you decide that you want to change your model, then go into your conversion settings in Google Ads and you’ll click on the conversion that you’re using now, the primary conversion that records your revenue and click on that conversion and take a look at the attribution settings. That’s where it’ll tell you which attribution model that you’re using and give you the ability to make changes. So the way that I’m going to approach this, I’m just going to talk about all of the different popular attribution model options in Google Ads, and then give you a description of each of those, and then you can make sense of those and figure out which one makes sense for your business.

So the first attribution model is called last click. So this is the one that’s the default when you set up a conversion and it’s the one that most people are familiar with. So last click means that the last ad a customer clicks before they make a purchase is the one that gets 100% of the credit. For example, if you have a customer that clicks on five different ads across a bunch of different campaigns and then decides to make a purchase, the last click model will give all of that credit to whichever ad was clicked last. So if you have two different search campaigns, maybe a branded search campaign or remarketing campaign, and they click on four different ads or something like that over one week period, two weeks, whatever, the last one they click is the one that’s going to get all the credit.

So the next model is first click, which is the exact opposite. So first click gives 100% of the conversion credit to the first ad that the customer clicks on, regardless of what happens after that. So this one isn’t used very often, but I have come across accounts where customers favored first click for various reasons. And usually they have a very specific reason for doing that, such as they are only concerned with figuring out how customers first found out about their product or service, and don’t really care about any followup interactions. But that’s rare, usually I don’t recommend this option. So those are the two most basic attribution models. So next up are what I call the blended models. These attribution models spread out the conversion credit across multiple clicks. Okay, so instead of one campaign getting all of the credit like we had before, the credit here is going to be spread out across multiple campaigns.

So the simplest of these is called linear. So the linear attribution model takes that conversion credit and spreads it across all of the different campaigns and clicks that led up to that purchase. So if a customer clicked on three different ads, then all three of those ads will get equal credit, or if they just clicked on two ads, then those two ads will get equal parts of the credit. The next model is called time decay. This one gets credit to all of the clicks that led up to a conversion, but tends to give more credit to the most recent clicks. So for example, if four clicks lead to a conversion, the clicks would get credit depending on when they happened. The first click was a week ago and the other three were in the last two days, then the ones in the last two days we’ll get the vast majority of the credit with only a smaller amount going to that first click.

So that makes sense, the more recent the interaction is the more credit than that conversion is going to get. Next up is the position based model. This one takes a completely different approach and gives most of the credit to the first and the last clicks, with middle clicks getting less credit. With position based attribution, so for example, if you had four clicks, then clicks one and four would get most of the credit, with clicks two and three getting a lot less. So this is a good model to use if you’re interested in how people first found about your product or service, and then what actually made them convert. The last attribution model is one that most accounts don’t have access to. So if you get several hundred conversions per month, it’s something like five or 600, it’s a pretty good amount, then you have access to a different attribution model that’s called data-driven, which uses machine learning and then intelligently assigns credit to all the different clicks.

So that one’s a little bit more advanced and not one that most people have access to, but for my experience, it works really, really well and works a little bit differently from all the ones that we’ve talked about. Okay, so those are the different models that are available. So which one should you choose? As you know, I’m a huge fan of data and want that data to be as accurate as possible. So if a customer clicks on multiple ads before making a purchase, then I want to know about it and optimize for all of that behavior. That’s why I think that first click and last click probably aren’t the best way to go. I like to use position based. That’s the one that gives the most credit, or gives most of the credit to the first and last clicks. That tells you how people found your site or products, and also shows how you convert them.

So linear and the time decay models also work well, but really there’s not a whole lot of difference between all of those. You’re only going to see differences if you have click paths that have five, six clicks or something like that. So that’s an extreme case anyway. But for the most part, as long as you’re using one of these models that spread credit across multiple campaigns, then you’re going to get pretty accurate data. And you can use the conversion modeling tool in Google Ads to see just how much that particular model that you’re using is influencing your data. I recommend everybody to take a look at the modeling tool and see how much your conversions vary depending on the model that you’re using. So you can take a look at what you’re using now, maybe if you’re using last-click, you can use a conversion attribution modeling tool to see how much position base would change the credit around in your campaigns.

I’ve seen cases where the model makes up to 15 to 20% difference, especially if you’re comparing something like first click or last click to position based or time decay, but if you’re already using something like position based and you wanted to compare it to time decay or linear, it’s probably only going to make a small difference, maybe 1%, 2%, something like that. Ultimately, whichever model you decide to use is completely up to you, as long as you understand that there are options out there and you can make a choice based on which one makes the most sense for your business. And you can always change it later if you need to. And you can always use the modeling tool to kind of help explain any differences that you have.

That’s it for today’s episode. Be sure to take a look at the show notes at jimlastinger.com/7, that’s the number seven for screenshots and helpful links. And if you would please take a minute to leave a rating and review for the show. That’s super helpful and helps us to grow the podcast and serve more people, which is my ultimate goal here. If you know someone who operates a Shopify store, then feel free to share the podcast with them. And I’ll be back soon with another episode where we’re going be talking about SEO and specifically how to write page titles and meta descriptions. Until then, take care and have a great day. See ya.

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