The Conversion Question

Google recently put attribution back in the forefront thanks to their emphasis on the topic during the recent Google Marketing Next event, an annual meeting to promote the company’s plans for ad products and analytics. Their goal? To end the focus on last click attribution.

What is last click attribution?

With last click attribution, the last click or last digital touchpoint before a conversion receives full credit. For example, if a consumer is exposed to or interacts with a video ad and then later searches for the brand, clicks on the paid search ad and then converts, in a last click attribution model, the paid search ad receives 100% of credit for the conversion and the video ad receives none.

Why should I avoid using a last click only approach to measurement?

If you have a multi-channel marketing program and are using a last click approach to gauge performance of campaigns, this puts you at a disadvantage as you’re looking at an incomplete picture of what helped that user convert. This could lead to uninformed decisions of budget allocations or campaign optimizations that could negatively impact conversion performance in the long run.

Take the travel industry for example. In the visual below, Google illustrates the most common tactics to play an assisting role in a conversion and those most likely to be the last interaction before a conversion. If using a last click model, an advertiser might decide display dollars aren’t valuable and remove the tactic from the plan, which could negatively impact conversion performance considering that tactic is likely what inspired the consumer to begin their journey to convert.

Attribution Model Diagram

In my experience with evaluating paid media campaigns, using a last click model can often times be the easiest option, but has proven to be the least rewarding in terms of driving performance. By using a more advanced approach – and the advanced measurement and reporting tools available to advertisers – understanding the full story behind the conversion has helped me to make smarter, more informed decisions with how advertising budgets should be spent, yielding greater returns for clients.

The digital landscape is more advanced than ever and the path to conversion is becoming more and more fragmented, so taking the time to understand the nuances of the industry and the typical consideration length and research period before a decision is made will help promote smarter planning decisions. In my opinion, what influenced and assisted a conversion is just as valuable as the last touchpoint before the conversion happened.

But don’t just take my word for it: A study conducted by eMarketer and ClickZ found that customers interact with a brand 4.3 times over a multi-day period before they finally make a purchase. In addition, the average U.S. shopper consults a total of more than 10 digital and traditional media sources prior to purchasing.

Think of it this way – if you’re making advertising decisions based on last click only performance but your competitors are using a more advanced approach, who will win in the long run?


[Kelsey Schneider is the Media Director at Greenhaus. With nearly 12 years of experience in the industry, she loves staying on top of the latest Ad Tech advancements. When she’s not at Greenhaus, you can find her exploring Southern California’s beaches and wondering why she didn’t move to San Diego sooner.]

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