Or how Google unmasks assists to converting keywords for Adwords
Google launches AdWords search funnel reports last week. From their blog:
“Currently, conversions in AdWords are attributed to the last ad someone clicks before making a conversion, masking the fact that many customers perform multiple searches before finally converting. AdWords Search Funnels help you see the full picture by giving you insight into the ads your customers interact with during their shopping process.”
Multi touch campaign attribution explained
This is called a “multi-touch campaign attribution” in analytics land. So let’s take this geeky lingo apart to see what all the buzz is about.
Most web analytics software uses common methods to assign conversions to sources like organic search keywords, banners, email campaigns or AdWords. Google analytics uses the ‘last click’ method. Others use first click methods. A conversion is assigned to the source. The last click brings you to the site.
How Google Analytics report conversions with the last click count is shown in below figure: only the last search is counted as contributing to the conversion. In reality, this person visited the site 2 times before trough a banner click and another search
Research shows us that people surf the web, clicking back and forth. They leave, research, revisit and buy (or don’t buy. So, in assigning the conversion to the last step is the part of the whole conversion path that people clicked.
The assist to the goal
Let’s look at a team of hockey players. One player scores a goal. In the news, he gets all the credit for the goal. Yet he is playing in a team; defenders play a role in the goal as certainly does the player who assists with the goal. In team sport, it is common not only to acknowledge the players who make the goals, but also the players who assist.
On the Internet, campaign attribution acknowledges the assists to your goal conversions. Multi-touch campaign attribution tries to assign the conversions to all campaigns a user saw or clicked on their journey to fulfilling the conversion goals of your site.
Although AdWords search funnel reports only work for keyword searches in AdWords, it is Google’s first response to the multi-touch attribution debate that was started by banner vendors like Microsoft in 2009. Microsoft wanted to prove that the declining prices of banner views did not reflect assisted conversions. AdWords Search Funnel reports show impressions and clicks on AdWords before and on conversion. This video from Google explains how it works:[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwj5W0UzAlo]
These reports help you determine if main keywords (single word keywords such as ‘mortgage’ or ‘holiday’) contribute to a sale by generating views and/or clicks. As we all know, keywords used in the first steps of a search have very low conversion ratios. The new AdWords Search Funnel reveals if early views and/or clicks add assistance to your conversion goal like the assist of a hockey player.
Below figure reveals a click path by the new AdWords search funnel report. This reports answers questions like “Would this person have booked the hotel as he had not seen the first Ad when searching for ‘holiday’?”
Google leaves 70% of search in the dark
It’s a worthwhile first step and, although I don’t mean to be too grumpy about it, the AdWords Funnel leaves organic results (and other channels) out of the equation. That is a bit odd because 80+% of a searcher’s attention is spent on organic results. Whether or not your brand or product gathers some eyeballs from the searcher can have a profound impact on the funnel. So in real life the graphic shown above looks more like this:
Future of campaign attribution?
My prediction is that Google will role this out to Google Analytics and other channels like organic search as well as their own banner networks on the content network. Yet, the view will always be limited to what Google offers. Your presence in Microsoft’s ad-network will not likely be shown in these reports. Therefore, you need solutions like Nedstat attribution, Omniture Sitecatalist or Coremetrics. And what about the attributions from offline channels like radio commercials and print?
The good news is tough. The AdWords Funnel could give you some new insights to make smarter decisions on what keywords to advertise. But, is this equally important for everyone? Avinash Kaushik thinks not.
Avinash Kaushik: campaign attribution not an issue for all sites
Avinash Kaushik writes in his book ‘Web analytics 2.0′ about different ways to approach ‘Multi touch campaign attribution analysis’.
He first notes that it is important to look if – in your particular business case – there is a campaign attribution issue at all. To do this, look into the analytics report that shows if people convert to a lead or sale in their first session. In Google Analytics you can find the answer under ‘ecommerce’>‘visits to purchase’.
Figure 3: in this case 77% of the costumers convert in their first ever visit to the site. Campaign attribution is only an issue for the other 23% of clients. Note this is only the truth for clicks not views…
When more than 75% convert in the first visit, there are no other clicks contributing and the ‘last cookie count’ is good enough. There are only assists in 25% of the cases (remember the hockey team).
SEO and conversion attribution
In SEO, it is normal to look at different types of keywords used in different phases of the decision process. Very common keywords will not convert directly but are used at the start of the decision process. More exact search phrases are more likely to convert directly.
If you are lucky enough to have high ‘keyword traffic share’ for a keyword like ‘holiday’ or ‘holiday Florida’ for your Key West hotel, then a lot more people will visit your website later in their decision process and consider a holiday in your Key West hotel .
For SEO it’s always best to be present in all stages of this decision process. Use our keyword process to examine all these kinds of keywords. When we are live… 😉