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It’s a Corker: Google AdWords Gets the Data-Driven Attribution Model3 min read

3 min read

Today reveals a highlight among Google’s recent measurement product announcements: a data-driven attribution model for calculating AdWords conversion metrics. Google will make it available in all AdWords accounts over the next seven days.

It will attribute conversions across all AdWords paid search clicks. It doesn’t matter if you measure conversions with the AdWords conversion pixel, or with goals linked from Google Analytics.

Conversion paths that include clicks from the Google Display Network or TrueView (i.e. YouTube) will remain attributed on only a last-click basis.

Google innovate their product as feverishly as any ad tech company, but they also buy technology to excellent effect. The tech powering Google’s data-driven model was inherited from marketing attribution business Adometry, in a May 2014 acquisition.

Today’s announcement is significant, because…

Measuring digital marketing campaigns using only a last-click model means your numbers are wrong.

You might realise that some keywords or ads are assisting, higher up the funnel, and driving conversions that complete elsewhere in the mix – but without using a data-driven attribution model in your measurement, you can’t claim to be doing much more than estimating the extent to which this is happening.

I’d argue actually that any single rule-based model is equally wrong. Let’s say a keyword is a popular first click, but only converts when followed by a specific second keyword. A first-click or position-based model misses the genuine conversion driver. It fails to credit that second keyword.

The beauty of the data-driven model is that it is both accurate as a stand-alone model, and easy to use. A single, solid measure for success.

Getting used to attribution-modelled conversions might not always be easy. Keywords will get credit for the conversions they drive later on, which could be tomorrow, or next week. The metrics for a given date range can (for good reason) have a habit of changing.

Google launched the Analytics 360 Suite nearly two months ago. The industry has been justifiably excited about Audience Center 360 and Attribution 360. But we’ve heard less noise around Data Studio 360. For me, Data Studio might be the most exciting element. Data is meaningless without a message, and the action that results. When metrics have a habit of changing, the concept of a static weekly Excel report is on its way out.

The industry’s pace of change can sometimes lag behind its leading agencies’ ambitions. Over two years ago, Ben Knight, Croud’s co-founder, blogged about the launch of Google Analytics’ multi-channel funnels. He even recalled the modelled conversion metrics he’d been using in BidBuddy (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth).

“Is last click in search finally about to die?” Ben asked. But note his sign off: “By dead, I’m hoping it will die very quickly – death in reality will be a number of years.”

We’re already guiding our clients about the benefits of data-driven attribution modelling. It’s not just about reporting, it changes budget allocation and optimisation too. We’ll write about our discoveries here, but if your business would like help, please get in touch.