Sneaky-Useful Google Search Attribution Features
Published: September 23, 2019
Author: Joe Stanton
You’ve probably heard of the Attribution Modeling Tool, but Google offers tons of other attribution insights that can help inform your budgeting and creative decisions!
Last-click attribution has long been a staple of paid media; it allows advertisers to track goals and events based on the most recent interaction users had with an ad. It’s a simple, consistent way to view performance at a high level around the ad that ended up converting a potential customer. That said, industry leaders have been pushing to move beyond last-click in favor of a more holistic attribution model that allows the advertiser to look past one interaction and instead see a conversion journey: from the ad that brought the user into the funnel, to the ones that pushed them into the consideration phase, all the way to the ultimate conversion driver.
However, these alternative models are often hard to implement, whether it’s a matter of volume limitations or client loyalty to the tried-and-true last-click model. Luckily, there are Google Ads tools in the UI that allow advertisers to analyze conversions beyond just the last-click event.
Start in the Tools & Setting feature in Google’s UI and navigate to “Search attribution.” Use these tools to supplement your performance data, and you’ll have a much clearer view of the journey your customers are taking to convert!
Re-Evaluate your Budgeting Strategy with Attribution Modeling
This feature models conversion volume by campaign, keyword, or ad group based around different attribution methods. Here you’ll be able to compare how campaigns perform against each other on different models that you choose, allowing you to determine if certain campaigns may be under or over-valued. For example, Brand campaigns often get the lion’s share of conversion attribution on a last-click model because the user is already familiar with the brand by the time they are ready to convert. However, the user may have already journeyed through the funnel on non-brand terms, so a model such as data-driven or even first click assigns more value to those campaigns (whose results are pictured below) that have contributed to the conversion path.
This isn’t to say you should immediately funnel your budget into these under-valued campaigns, but it can be useful to see where users have first been exposed to the brand or transitioned into the consideration phase.
The Top Paths report demonstrates the campaigns or keywords a user passes through before the ultimate conversion event. This tool offers great nuggets of insight by showing what is essentially the user funnel.
One great example of actionable insight from this feature would be a path in which a user is clicking on a term—particularly a brand term—as many as 3, 4, or 5 times before converting. This may be an indicator that your ads are driving to a landing page with shallow conversion goals and need to have stronger CTAs, or that the user is getting served the same asset many times without getting pushed down the funnel.
You may also find patterns in non-brand terms, such as searches for one product are followed by searches for an associated product, meaning there is potential for cross-selling.
Inform Content Creation with Device Activity
Similar to the Top Paths report, the Device Paths report offers a view into, you guessed it, the devices that ultimately play into a conversion. This is useful in obvious ways, such as evaluating your device bid modifiers (maybe you’ve underestimated the role mobile or tablets play in the customer journey).
However, this report can also help guide advertisers to consider how best to utilize a cross-device customer journey: Do most converters first search on mobile and then decide to submit a lead or make a purchase on a desktop? Consider offering mobile-friendly top-funnel assets or interactive features, or ask yourself if the purchasing process is too difficult on mobile.