Gain insight on last-click attribution and the functionality of attribution in Google AdWords through our search experts at Rakuten Marketing.

Last-click attribution is the next Blockbuster Video—something everyone used to use that slowly (or not so slowly) faded away—and Google AdWords is suspected to help push it in that direction. With a large focus on attribution for 2018, many industry leaders anticipate Google AdWords shifting from last-click attribution, to a complete attribution model and we want to be ahead of the curve in making the move too.

Rakuten Marketing Search has already been in deep talks with Google this year regarding the attribution functionality in AdWords, and it is certainly a top priority for our team. Sarah Martin, Senior Account Manager at Rakuten Marketing Search, feels that last-click attribution is an outdated system for evaluating digital campaign performance. “We cannot dismiss the evolution of consumer behavior & the ever-changing path-to-conversion by only giving value to the last touchpoint. We have to make data-driven attribution a part of our daily optimizations so that we are best maximizing our digital marketing budgets and ensuring all parts of the conversion funnel are represented,” she says. After attending Google’s recent Peak Performance training where they discussed the value of attribution, Sarah said, “It was refreshing to see Google re-emphasize this thinking.”

Moving away from last-click attribution brings many questions. How do we think these changes will affect our clients? What are the risks and rewards associated? Do we agree with moving forward to adopt this? And if so, why? How soon do we adopt? The below questions helped our team decide to shift and can help each client feel confident in our decision.

Why should we move away from last-click attribution now?

Living in Tampa, Florida during 2017 taught us that being prepared makes a difference (thank you, hurricane season). If we wait to make the transition until Google forces us, we’ll have only a short window to accommodate the new model and align optimizations accordingly. So rather than encountering what I refer to as “Scramble City” where rapid changes lead to hectic decision-making, we’re making the change now to give ourselves time to approach this in a calm, collected manner.

How are accounts affected?

It’s not as scary as you think! Remember how long it took us all to get to automated bidding? This isn’t quite that scary. Changing the attribution model in AdWords won’t change the account performance—it’s more about how the data is sliced and diced to show the impact through the full journey. In the past, a last-click model gave a conversion to only one keyword. This new model may divide that conversion among a few different keywords, but the actual value of that conversion will not change.

What are the risks and rewards?

You may see a difference in keyword performance—some keywords that were labeled as “top revenue drivers” with last-click attribution may shift downward while new keywords that weren’t on the radar in the past may move up as top-performers. And while it may take time to adjust the performance being split at the granular level, it’s supposed to be that way. The exciting part of this change is being able to look at your performance through a new lens that you haven’t been privy to before. This lens might help you discover an untapped opportunity for new optimizations and strategies. It will allow you to approach your account with holistic data, which can actually empower your decision-making. And, to top it all off, it will allow our Kenshoo and AdWords data to be tracked in the same way, creating better alignment when we layer them together for optimization.

When are we getting our makeover?

We’ve started talking with clients already and changes will be coming soon.

To prepare for this, our search team is working closely with Google to ensure our approach to moving toward this new attribution model not only makes sense but that it aligns with the client’s goals.

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