We're hiring

We love digital - Call
03332 207 677
and say hello - Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm

Call 03332 207 677

Anna Lewis

First Click v. Last Click Attribution in Google Analytics and AdWords

26th Jul 2011 Analytics, Paid Search, Google AdWords 2 minutes to read


ConversionsThere is a fundamental difference in the way that Google Analytics and AdWords report traffic mediums and which mediums lead to conversions; one of reasons why the numbers will always vary. To understand which medium will be counted when, you need to know that Google Analytics uses Last Click attribution and Google AdWords uses First Click attribution.

But what does this mean in real terms? Well, when a user comes to your site several times before converting, as is common, they may use different media to get there.

Google Analytics Conversion Attribution

The following table shows which medium will be attributed the conversion in Google Analytics when the visitor comes in through each combination of mediums – assuming three visits and a conversion on the third.

Click Attribution in Google Analytics

Although it’s not quite that simple, so I’ve highlighted the occasion on which the last click attribution is overwritten and instead the penultimate medium is reported as the converting medium. This is because Direct visits do not overwrite the utmz cookie that passes on this data, so if Direct is the final medium used before a conversion the conversion will actually be attributed to the previous medium.

AdWords Conversion Attribution

Within the AdWords interface conversions are reported on based on an ad being the first point of contact – this means that if a user comes to the site through an ad and then comes back organically or through other mediums, AdWords will attribute this conversion to AdWords.

If a user clicks one ad and comes back to the site via a different ad to convert then the attribution is given to the final ad, the medium is still AdWords. In order to see the details of conversions like this you can use AdWords Conversion Funnels. To find this information, go to Reporting and Tools > Conversions and on the left hand side click Search Funnels. This takes you through to an area with a number of extra ways to analyse your conversions. Assisted clicks is the area relevant in this situation as this can show all the clicks that led to a conversion.

In this section I like to look at Top Paths, here you can go in to your campaign and then break down the assists by ad group, keyword or a wide range of other Dimensions:

 

Click path conversion attributions

Finally, if a user comes to your site via an organic search before they click an ad, AdWords will not pick up the information about previous visits and will attribute everything it sees to your clicks on ads.

Obviously this makes life difficult when you’re trying to put the whole picture together, which is why Google Analytics now has a funky new area called Multi Channel Funnels. This can tell you which mediums assisted conversions and give you more insight in to sources of conversions and user behaviour. To see this area you need conversion tracking in Analytics and you need to be using the new interface.

Share this post

Anna Lewis
About the author

Anna Lewis

Anna is unbelievably attuned to anything analytical and can fill you in on all the latest news, tips and advice to get ahead in this evolving market.

Free Whitepaper The Complete Google Analytics Guide For Business

10 Comments

What do you think?

  • aspect-ratio
    Nicola Churchill

    The Psychology Of Colour In Marketing

    When it comes to building a content marketing campaign, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may have an initial idea but bringing it to life and getting your message seen are always harder than initially thought.
    (more…)

    Nicola Churchill
    @with_nic
    30th Jun 2017
    Content Marketing
  • aspect-ratio
    Cat Birch

    Koozai Launches Free Breakfast & Learn Events

    We’re excited to announce that we’re launching a series of free Breakfast & Learn events for brand-side marketers. Our digital marketing experts will help you to boost your SEO, paid media, paid social and content marketing knowledge over breakfast.
    (more…)

    Cat Birch
    @MissCatBirch
    25th May 2017
    News

Digital Ideas Monthly

Sign up now and get our free monthly email. It’s filled with our favourite pieces of the news from the industry, SEO, PPC, Social Media and more. And, don’t forget - it’s free, so why haven’t you signed up already?