Why Attribution is Important in the Search World


Posted by Sejal Sura, Senior Manager

Currently, paid search reporting and optimization is based on “last click” attribution. For instance, in the example below, “Brand x digital camera” receives full credit for this conversion, even though “digital camera” and “10 MP digital camera” both assisted in the conversion.  Attribution reporting tools and technologies enable the identification of assist terms so that advertisers can continue to invest in terms that may appear to be underperforming based on “last click” attribution.

"Digital Camera" >> "10 MP Digital Camera" >> "Brand X Digital Camera" >> Conversion

Attribution within paid search is only one part of the equation; attribution becomes even more powerful when expanded across other channels such as display, Facebook, and mobile. Cross-channel attribution enables advertisers to define the optimal media mix, which helps in creating consistent messaging to optimize cross-channel performance. Two tools in the marketplace that uncover the hidden value of keywords are Performics’ Clickstream and Google’s Search Purchase Funnel Reports.

Performics’ Clickstream vs. Google’s Search Purchase Funnel Reports

Performics’ Clickstream paid search attribution product and Google’s new Search Purchase Funnel Reports complement each other in providing optimization insights for overall paid search programs. This point of view will explain the differences between the two products, as well as how the two products can work together to drive conversions and increase paid search efficiency.

Background

Performics’ Clickstream

Performics’ Clickstream evaluates the series of paid search clicks for a given advertiser and from a specific user ID during a defined time period for both converting and non-converting data. Clickstream utilizes an equal attribution methodology, assigning values to all keywords within a consumer’s stream and evaluating the impact of assist keywords. The keywords are categorized into segments based on their values, which are tied to bid strategy recommendations. For one retailer client, Performics used Clickstream to identify keywords that assist in driving conversions. Based on the data, we then proposed a cost-neutral strategy to shift dollars from keywords that were not driving direct or assist sales to keywords that were driving direct and assist sales. This allowed the client to recognize $226,171 in cost savings in a 12-month period.

There are fourteen to eighteen reports available in the automated Clickstream interface, along with an excel file of keyword segment details.

Attribution2 

Google’s Search Purchase Funnel Reports

Google is launching its Search Purchase Funnel Reports in Q2 2010. The interface enables users to access reports on a daily basis and define the time period for the analysis. Google requires a conversion tag to be implemented to track the consumer search behavior and these reports will be available to any account. Google’s interface is user friendly, easily accessible and Google provides the ability to attribute credit to paid search impressions and provides average time to convert based on clicks and based on impressions. One of the more useful reports is keyword paths. This enables advertisers to identify the most common string of keywords resulting in conversions. However, Google’s reports only focus on converting data; for the majority of advertisers that is less than five percent of the data set and client’s click costs.

Attribution3 

Performics’ Point of View

The main advantage of Performics’ Clickstream is the holistic view it provides to identify opportunities to increase investment in high performing direct and assist terms and to reduce investment on underperforming direct and assist terms. Performics’ product also showcases the data at the KID level so the recommendations can be implemented, whereas Google only displays the keyword and match type which becomes problematic when trying to differentiate national and geo-targeted terms or same terms within different campaigns.

Product Attribute Comparison

Google Search Purchase Funnel     

Channels:  Paid Search (excl. content and Facebook)

Data set:  Converting data only  

Time Period:  Any (start date based on when conversion tag is implemented) 

Level of Analysis:  Account level; some views at campaign, adgroup and keyword 

Differentiators:  (1) provides assist impressions; (2) defines avg. time to convert; (3) includes keyword paths   

Performics Clickstream

Channels:  Paid Search (including content and Facebook)

Data set:  Converting and non-converting data  

Time Period:  Based on cookie duration

Level of Analysis:  Account level; keyword type and KID

Differentiators:  (1) provides actionable recommendations; (2) analysis based on client specific KPIs; (3) delineates between national and geo-targeted terms; (4) includes Google, Yahoo! and Bing data, while the Google tool is Google data only

Advertiser Recommendations

Performics reviews the Search Purchase Funnel Reports regularly to gleam new insights to apply to our advertisers’ programs. Two specific reports that will be reviewed frequently are the Keyword Path and Top Click Assist reports. Both of these reports can be used to develop consistent copy and messaging across high frequency keyword paths and/or assist terms. Advertisers engaged in Clickstream analysis benefit from both cost savings and revenue generating opportunities as well as a mechanism to track the performance of these keywords after the recommendations have been implemented. Performics’ Clickstream reports can also be used to validate Google’s inferences based on conversion only data. Thus, a program that jointly leverages Performics’ and Google’s products provides advertisers with the most insight to drive paid search conversions and cost-efficiency.


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