There’s been a lot of debate in the analytics community about campaign attribution and how to assign value to the various marketing touch-points that lead to conversions. If you’re new Campaign Attribution you should check out the book Web Analytics 2.0, it has a good, functional overview of the attribution challenge.
Throughout the discussion it has become clear that the classic first click and last click attribution models that many web analytics tools use are flawed. The problem is no one has come forward with a better solution to the attribution issue… until now.
Google has taken a very low-risk move by tackling campaign attribution for AdWords only. The new AdWords Search Funnel reports help marketers understand which cpc ads people see and click on prior to converting.
If you’re looking for details about the reports and how to use them check out the video below from Google. The new Search Funnel reports have not been rolled out yet so no one has had a chance to play with them. Hence no real description here :)
We’ve long known that people see a lot of different cpc ads during a sales cycle. Avinash Kaushik calls these keywords “upper funnel” keywords. They are used by people that are early in the buying cycle. While many of these keywords don’t always lead to a conversion they help educate a potential customer and move then closer to purchasing a product or service.
Even though they do not directly generate revenue there is some value in bidding on upper funnel keywords.
The Search Funnel reports are a well thought out way to understand how people interact with AdWords ads prior to conversion and thus help us understand the ROI of our AdWords spend. The reorts provide insight into which keywords
I think this is a good first step by Google. They took reliable set of data that was just sitting around a data center and created some reports that will help marketers understand the real value of different types of keywords. This is all very low risk for Google with very high potential (read: more AdWords revenue).
But these new reports are also a good test of how users, and the overall analytics market, will respond to Google’s version campaign attribution reporting. Real attribution models are very complicated to create. They involve a lot of data about different types of campaigns (banners, cpc, email, etc.).
[Side note: Why is it that we haven't seen any DoubleClick data in Google Analytics yet? Pulling that data into GA will be critical for real attribution measurement.]
In addition to the data complexities, every business will have their own way to weight certain marketing activities in an attribution equation. For example, some companies may value email more than paid search. This business logic will be difficult to implement. Not impossible, but difficult.
At the end of the day the new AdWords Funnel reports are exciting. But I’m excited to see how Google takes information about how these reports are used and tackles the bigger challenge of true campaign attribution!