Why Last Click Attribution Modeling Is Dead

I first considered multi channel attribution 7 years ago while I was managing paid media accounts for one of the nations largest car dealerships.  Google Analytics was set up in a way that we could see the affect advertising on Cars.com, Bing, Google, Auto Trader and a number of other channels had on lead volume.  If the company was using last click attribution they would have undoubtedly ceased all advertising on Auto Trader.  However, they were smarter than that.  Through conversion funnels that a development team had put together in Analytics we could see that by not advertising on Auto Trader our traffic would potentially decrease by as much as 20%.  Research and reviews are two reasons consumers might start their journey there.  Looking up the trade-in value is another.  Listing their vehicle for sale is also a possibility.  The point is not every consumers journey is the same.

Get a better understanding of your campaign performance as a whole and over time you will save a lot of money on your ad spend.

For example branded search terms often seem like high converting keywords when using Google Adwords.  I’m not talking about trademarked terms that no one else is allowed to advertise on.  I’m talking about the name of your business or product name i.e.  “BrandXYZ red jeans” shows a 15% conversion rate in Adwords and “red jeans” is converting at just 6%.  You may want to consider taking a look at Analytics to determine whether or not you should pause the keyword “red jeans” or pump more money into it even though it converts nowhere near as well as your keyword “BrandXYZ red jeans” does.  Your customer probably searched for “red jeans” then saw your ad, clicked on it and later returned to the search (this time using your brand name) and clicked on a branded text ad instead.  Make sense?

According to the Last Click Attribution model – what AdWords will report is that the branded text ad is the only campaign to get credit for the conversion.  So be careful!  Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!

A good way to think about multi channel attribution is that no one team member should ever be given all the credit.  In basketball no on likes a ball hog.  In baseball there are outs that get attributed to errors.  A point guard gets a pass from his teammate, then he shoots and scores.  His point gets added to the total score and he gets all the credit using last click attribution.   In this scenario the shooter is the branded text ad and unfortunately his teammate gets zero credit for the pass and looks like he’s not a good player.   However, the league is aware that the teammate passed him the ball and gives him credit for the assist.
If your paths to purchase are direct enough, the default last-click approach may be the right choice but the reality – this is usually not the case.  AdWords has taken big steps towards providing advertisers with more metrics to base decisions on.  For example, there are “assisted conversion”, “view through conversion” and “cross device conversion” columns.

Adwords also has attribution models available.  Advertisers can easily see how their campaigns stack up and compare attribution models.  You can look at last click versus first click 0r last click versus a linear path.  One campaign could be performing poorly according to last click but does a good job introducing traffic (first click attribution).

In conclusion, it is vital that advertisers have access to models and evaluation platforms that allow them to see how all of the touchpoints contributed along a shopper’s journey from awareness to purchase.  Successful brands focus on developing a seamless experience that ensures each touchpoint interconnects and contributes to the overall journey.  Successful paid media strategists understand the customer journey and use paid media to reach more customers where they are.

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