What You Should Know About Conversion Attribution Models for Google AdWords

Attribution Model

Google AdWords use a number of attribution models giving you the power to choose exactly how much credit each click receives for a conversion. An attribution model can be assigned to a visitor’s first or last click, you can even use them to assign credit to a combination of clicks that lead the visitor in a certain direction.

Attribution models are worthwhile because they’ll give you a far better understanding of exactly how your advertisements are performing. You’ll also gain insight into what you can do to better optimise your site to make the path to conversions clearer.

Benefits of using an attribution model

Many advertisers will measure how successful their online advertising is on a ‘last click’ basis. This means all the credit for a particular conversion will be given to the ad and corresponding keyword that was last clicked. The problem with this method is that it ignores all the other clicks your customers may have made along the way.

If you use an attribution model, you’ll be giving yourself an extra layer of control over the amount

of credit each ad and keyword gets. The main advantage of this is that it lets you reach customers earlier. There are a number of searches and decisions a customer goes through before they commit to making a purchase, by influencing them earlier, you could have a better chance of them achieving a conversion.

Attribution modelling can also be matched to work in harmony with your business. No two businesses are the same and will have their own set of customers they want to appeal to. In order to reach them, you can pick an attribution model which works best for the way people search for your products or services. For instance, the way someone may search for a plumbing service will differ to the way someone searches for novelty gifts. Attribution models understand this and can help you target customers more efficiently.

The different attribution models

Google AdWords offers a number of attribution models you can choose from. The first one is ‘Last Click’. Using this attribution model will attribute all the credit to both the last clicked advertisement and its corresponding keyword. It’s worth noting that if you use this attribution model, there is likely to be a time lag between reports in the current model column and the reports in the conversion column. After a short period of time, the lag will correct itself.

The next attribution model available is ‘First Click’. This works in the same way as last click but gives credit to the first clicked advertisement and its corresponding keyword or keyword phrase.

If you don’t want to attribute all the credit to one specific click and keyword, you may wish to consider the ‘Linear’ option. Unlike first and last click, linear will distribute the credit for your conversion equally across all of the clicks that have led to the conversion.


The ‘Time Decay’ attribution model will give more credit to the clicks that occurred closer to the conversion. It uses a 7-day half-life credit distribution method, which means that a click that happens 8 days prior to a conversion will receive half of the credit that’s given to a click one day before a conversion.

The next attribution model is ‘Position Based’. This works by giving 40% of the credit to the last clicked and first clicked ads and keywords. The remaining 20% is given to the other clicks that occurred along the way.

The final attribution model is ‘data driven’. Only available to AdWords customers who have plenty of data already, it works by distributing credit for the conversion based on the past data you have for a specific conversion action.

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