Pro Tip: Why you should stop using last-click attribution in Google Ads

December 10, 2019

When was the last time you searched for something, clicked an ad and purchased immediately?

Probably never. That’s why it’s time for marketers to stop using last-click attribution for measuring success in Google Ads.

Often, people are searching on multiple devices and do extensive browsing and research before making a purchase. Understanding the impact that higher-funnel keywords have on conversions can help better utilize spend, cut out waste and inform other digital marketing channels such as SEO and social media.

As Google continues to push automated bidding strategies like maximize conversions, maximize conversion value and target ROAS (just to name a few), using non-last click (NLC) attribution becomes even more important.

These algorithms are designed to optimize ad spend based on specific criteria, but if they’re only seeing a small slice of the pie, you could be missing out on valuable traffic and giving too much credit to lower-funnel searches, like brand terms.

The Model Comparison Tool report in Google Analytics looks at historical data and gives estimates for how many conversions you would have had if you leveraged a different model. This tool can help you decide which model (Position-Based, Linear, or Time Decay) aligns best with your user flow.

Making the change to NLC is simple:

  1. Log into Google Ads
  2. Navigate to the Conversions tab, then click on the conversion action you want to change
  3. Click “edit settings” and then choose whichever attribution model is right for you

If you have multiple conversions being counted, make sure to change all conversions you’re tracking in the account.

So, how much does NLC improve performance? For one lead generation client in a competitive industry, we saw conversions increase 16% and CPA decreased by 12% just one month after switching to linear attribution. On the e-commerce side, one account saw a 5% increase in ROAS just 2 weeks after switching from last-click to position-based.

Note that if you’re using smart bidding strategies, moving to NLC could disrupt your campaigns for a few weeks while the algorithm adjusts, so be patient if things don’t improve immediately.

You want data that paints a full picture, and last-click attribution simply won’t cut it anymore. By opting for the right non-last click model instead, you can set yourself up for a huge performance spike.

Pro Tip is a special feature for SEOs in our community to share a specific tactic others can use to elevate their performance. You can submit your own here.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

pro-tip-why-you-should-stop-using-last-click-attribution-in-google-ads Pro Tip: Why you should stop using last-click attribution in Google Ads
Justine is a Lead Strategist at HawkSEM and has experience managing PPC and social media campaigns as well as executing SEO strategies.

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