Attribution in Google Ads conversion upload

Marketers can use etracker Analytics to efficiently manage their Google Ads campaigns and automatically synchronize conversions with Google Ads. This allows the success of the ads to be analyzed directly in Google Ads and the automatic bid optimization to be used. You can choose between these attribution methods for the conversion upload:

  • attribution in etracker Analytics (external attribution model).
  • attribution in Google Ads

Prerequisite: An etracker Analytics Pro or Enterpise license providing the conversion upload.

Two different attribution methods

Attribution models can be used to determine how ads and organic sources contribute to conversions. The different models differ in how much is attributed to each contact on the path to conversion. Attribution requires that journeys can be accurately measured, which is severely limited due to analytic cookie consent requirements and browser protections from Apple & Co. Therefore, data quality is crucial for effective campaign management.

Sufficient data quality can be established for attribution in etracker Analytics as well as in Google Ads, because

  • with etracker Analytics, all campaign and website interactions and conversions can be attributed, regardless of user consent, and
  • with Google Ads all Google Ads advertising interactions

can be measured.

So there are two types of customer journeys:

  1. Overarching customer journey: all contacts from the respective click across all sources that led to a visit to the website and to a conversion (measured with etracker Analytics).
  2. Platform-specific customer journey: the advertising playouts and interactions in the Google universe (measured in Google Ads) and the website conversions (measured with etracker Analytics).

The overarching customer journey enables a precise allocation of success in comparison and interaction with other channels and measures. The platform-specific customer journey is less about the value contribution of ads and keywords than about the optimal display of ads, i.e. the question of when and how often ads should be displayed.

These are therefore two fundamentally different methods for optimizing Google Ads bids.

Attribution in etracker Analytics

The following attribution models are available for attribution in etracker Analytics:

  • Last ad (last click): the conversion is only attributed to the last non-direct contact (unless only type-ins were measured).
  • First ad (first click): conversion is attributed only to the first non-direct contact (unless only type-ins were measured).
  • Linear (equal distribution): conversion is distributed evenly among all non-direct contacts in the path (unless only Type-Ins were measured).
  • Position (“bathtub model”): 40% of the conversion is allocated to the first and last contact each. The remaining 20% is distributed among the other contacts in the journey. Type-ins are only taken into account if no non-direct contacts were measured.

In the last ad and first ad model, conversions are only assigned to Google Ads campaigns if they are clicked in the journeys at the appropriate points on the way to conversion.

Caution. If one of the above four models is selected in the settings in etracker Analytics for conversion upload, the attribution option Use external attribution model must be selected when configuring conversions in Google Ads.

Attribution in Google Ads

For attribution in Google Ads, only the data-driven attribution model can be used in conjunction with etracker Analytics.

Google Ads Attribution
Fig.: Attribution setting when configuring conversions via external data sources in Google Ads.

The data-driven attribution model works by analyzing all available data from the Google Ads account, such as clicks, impressions, conversions, device types, browsers, locations, and time of day. It uses a statistical algorithm then to find patterns and trends in how visitors convert after viewing and interacting with ads. Based on these patterns, the model calculates the likelihood that an ad insertion will result in a conversion.

To be eligible for this model, websites must have at least 3,000 Google Ad clicks and 600 resulting conversions within 30 days.

Attention. The data-driven attribution model must be selected both when configuring conversions in Google Ads and in the conversion upload settings in etracker Analytics. The conversions are attributed in etracker Analytics according to the last ad model and transmitted appropriately without distribution model assignment.

The agony of choice

Since both attribution methods take very different approaches, it is impossible to say whether one or the other method fundamentally leads to better campaign performance. For smaller clients, the data-driven model will be out of question simply because of the amount of data required and thus the high Google Ads budget. Otherwise, factors such as the marketing mix and Google Ads targeting are likely to play a role. Attribution in Google Ads ignores other marketing channels that can contribute to the conversion path. On the other hand, the attribution in etracker Analytics cannot take into account possible ad views without a click.

Regardless of the attribution method selected, with etracker Analytics marketers benefit from the best data quality for controlling their Google Ads campaigns thanks to:

  • consent-free measurement of conversions without content-related data loss and data distortion,
  • measurement of all visits and conversions despite ad blockers when tracking via a separate domain and
  • automatic upload of measured conversions to Google Ads.
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