Why you should move away from last click attribution

08 Nov 2017

  • Strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Search Marketing

By: Rick Elenbaas, Salmat

The digital space is rapidly changing. With the increase in mobile phone and tablet ownership and usage, more than half of all website traffic is now coming from these devices. However, this mobile traffic doesn’t always result in direct conversions. Nowadays, it’s rare for searchers to complete a conversion in one session, on one device, resulting in very complex consumer paths.

In fact, data shows that 75 per cent of online users begin an activity on one device, but continue or finish it on another. It’s crucial for you as an advertiser to understand this change in user behavior and adapt your approach to measuring and analysing it.

The vast majority of advertisers and marketers are still using last-click models to make strategic decisions in their accounts, which only measure a user’s final touchpoint. Given the changing user landscape, it’s time to revisit our approach. Using attribution to truly understand the impact of each touchpoint in the user journey will shed light on the entire user journey, and provide more valuable, actionable insights.

The key to unlocking these new growth opportunities is to accurately measure all conversions, attribute conversion credits across multiple touchpoints and act on this data through bidding, budget and targeting decisions.

Measure all conversions

Do you know what happens after a users clicks through to your site?The only way to know if your advertising efforts are paying off is to measure whether site visitors are actually completing the actions you want them to take when they land on your site. If you’re not tracking each of their actions, you’re playing a guessing game with your performance.

google search

Why digital marketing can be so effective is that advertisers don’t have to guess how they’re performing. We can determine exactly how searchers interact with your ads and what percentage of those who have clicked-through to your site actually complete the actions you want them to take. However, many advertisers limit their definition of success to online purchases.

But to get a more holistic, accurate understanding of the impact of your online ads, you need to track every moment that matters to your business.


Knowing whether your goal was completed is a good start, but understanding the path your users took that led them to complete this goal is even more eye-opening.

Attribution modelling

Attribution can help you to connect the various touchpoints consumer conversion journey. An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit is assigned to touchpoints along the conversion path.

attribution modelling

There are various attribution models, each of which distributes credit differently across search conversion paths. Deciding which clicks equate to credit for a conversion can be tough. Marketers use various attribution models, each of which distributes credit differently across the conversion path.

However, the vast majority of marketers are still using outdated last-click models that assign full credit to a single touchpoint, like first click and last click. These are not ideal because they don’t account for multiple interactions within a customer journey. So stop using them!

first and last click

Google Adwords now offers a data-driven model to leverage your account data, as well as Google’s machine learning capabilities to determine which user touchpoints are most influential. It then allocates credit based on the actual contribution of each keyword across the user path. Even better, it’s always getting smarter. It learns and adjusts over time, based on your performance.

However, not all AdWords accounts have sufficient data to qualify for the data-driven model. If your account falls into this category, you should select from one of the three remaining rules-based, multi-touch models; time decay, linear or position-based.

multi-touch model

Once you’ve selected your attribution model, you’ll need to rethink your timeline for analysing this conversion data. Remember, your new attribution data is only powerful when you act on it.

Find out more about Salmat here or call 1300 725 628.

*All images courtesy of Google
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