Why Last Click Is Dead


The simple answer is because AdWords conversions shouldn’t be attributed as simple as an assist in a game of football.

Sure, it was Juan Mata’s corner that allowed Didier Drogba to score that headed equaliser for Chelsea in the Champions League final in 2012, but what about Fernando Torres who won the corner? What about the players involved in the passage of play leading up to that? Did Chelsea score just because of Drogba? Or did the corner play a part? Whilst in football this accreditation is simply given to the last involved party, tracking within Google AdWords and Analytics is not quite as simple.

Using these three steps, we can understand why last click benefits no one:

  • Measure [the conversions]
  • Attribute [who gets the credit]
  • Act [optimising]

If you measure all your conversions, whether that’s the purchase of a product or a site goal competition, using last click, you potentially miss out on correctly assigning credit to the correct data source.

Let’s use the example of someone who purchases a sofa for their new home; they first searched ‘red recliner sofa’ on their PC in their lunch hour at the office and browsed a few they liked, however they then went a week before coming back to the site through a dynamic remarketing display ad on their mobile that took them back to that specific product page, and then later that day they went back to the site through a branded keyword and purchased said sofa on their laptop. So the path, in this instance for the sake of argument remaining within AdWords clicks, goes:

Click 1: Ad click from keyword search for ‘red recliner sofa’

Click 2: Dynamic remarketing ad click

Click 3: Ad click from branded keyword search for retailer

Using the last-click attribution model, the branded keyword gets all the credit, meaning at face value you don’t see the benefit of your dynamic remarketing campaign, and you have even less chance of seeing the benefit of bidding on the keyword ‘red recliner sofa’.

While this is an extremely basic explanation, it explains the premise of why last-click isn’t useful. When changing to non-last-click attribution models, you’ll often reveal a slight shift in the credit going to mobile devices and upper-funnel keywords, which makes sense.

When measuring, you want to know that what you’re measuring is reliable and correct. There’s so much more complexity to measuring than just ‘this is where the conversion came from’. Take cross-device conversions and path length for example, these are not to be underestimated and forgotten about when measuring, as seen in the red recliner sofa example earlier.

Where attribution is concerned, the Google AdWords platform allows you to change your attribution model for the most suitable one to you.

Google AdWords Statistics

The no goes are last-click and first-click. We’ve looked at why you shouldn’t use last-click, but you shouldn’t use first click because it gives all the credit to the first clicked ad, believe it or not! This attribution model is like asking to give your school crush all of the credit for you marrying your wife. Just not the done thing.

This leaves the following attribution models:

– Linear

– Time decay

– Position-based

– Data-driven

Our recommendation would be, providing you have enough data, use Data-driven (DD), which gives credit for conversions based on how people have searched for your business and have decided to become your customers. It, therefore, uses data from your account to determine which ads, keywords and campaigns have the greatest impact. It’s the most reliable and should be your number one attribution model providing you have enough frequent conversion actions to qualify. After Data-driven, Position-based and Time decay are where you want to be looking, should your account not be eligible for DD.

Data graphic

For more information from Google on the various attribution models, check out this document. You can also use the Google Attribution model to help you see how changing your attribution model would affect your conversions.

Lastly, the third step we mentioned; act. This is the optimisation. The bid adjustments and management, based on performance, based on the goals you have for your account. Stay tuned for more on this topic, as in June we’ll be releasing a white-paper on this very topic.

Do you feel you miss the latest Google AdWords updates and feature releases? If so, then contact Mabo today to see how your PPC advertising could benefit from working with our team of PPC management specialists. 

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