As a paid-search analyst at Boomerang , one of the most fascinating and challenging aspects of my role is auditing potential Google Ads accounts. I find it exhilarating to delve deeper and uncover the real story behind the metrics.

The first area I focus on is the account’s conversion actions, as this forms the foundation of Google’s algorithm. Accurate communication of data is essential to leverage Google’s powerful machine-learning-based tools.

Surprisingly, the accounts my team and I audit often lack conversions set to best practices. The most frequent issue is that conversion actions utilize a last-click attribution model.

What Is Last-Click Attribution?

Last click attribution is a method of measuring which touchpoint a customer last engaged with or clicked on before making a purchase or providing their contact information. It assigns 100% of the credit for the sale or conversion to that touchpoint.

For instance, let’s assume a user discovers your website through an organic source and spends 20 minutes adding products to their cart but doesn’t complete the purchase. Later that day, the same user clicks on one of your ads and completes the purchase within two minutes.

In this scenario, which channels do you think should receive more credit?

With a last-click attribution model, Google Ads would assign 100% of the conversion value to the paid-source, despite the organic source being the true reason for the purchase.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Last-Click Attribution

To ensure optimal results with machine learning-based bid strategies such as tROAS, tCPA, maximize conversions, and maximize conversion value, it is crucial to gather accurate data. Last-click attribution fails to account for earlier touchpoints in the customer journey, such as upper-funnel searches that guide prospects towards closer-to-conversion searches.

Moreover, basing budget allocation decisions on last-click attribution models can negatively impact campaign outcomes. Simply increasing spending on a source with a high number of last-click conversions while decreasing spending on a source with a low number of last-click conversions could result in an overall decrease in results.

Google has even introduced “non-last-click attribution” (NLC) for new conversion actions to discourage advertisers from relying on the outdated last-click attribution model.

What Attribution Model Should I Be Using?

In almost all cases, Google recommends using data-driven attribution (DDA) instead of last-click attribution for conversion actions. DDA is distinct from rules-based attribution models and instead utilizes conversion data in your account to calculate the actual contribution of each search ad click along the conversion path. DDA analyzes the paths of customers who convert and those who don’t, to determine what truly matters for each conversion path or source.

With DDA, your account can more effectively learn which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns are crucial in helping you achieve your business goals. It accurately displays the right attribution for each conversion without any guesswork.

How To Set Up Data-Driven Attribution

1.Log in to your Google Ads account.
2.Click on the tools icon and choose Measurement > Conversions.
3.From the table, select the conversion action that you want to modify, and then click Edit settings.
4.Choose “Data-driven” from the “Attribution model” drop-down menu.
5.Click Save and then click Done to complete the process.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of your Google Ads accounts, relying solely on last-click attribution won’t suffice. Instead, choosing a non-last click model like DDA will provide a more reliable foundation for your campaigns.