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From Last Click To Position-Based: An Attribution Test



An Attribution Test

Whodunit” is more than just a popular detective narrative, it is an important question in PPC as well. Attribution seeks to answer that question. So, choosing the right model for your account is important. In this blog, we’ll cover a quick overview of Google’s attribution, what led us to consider testing a different attribution, what changes you can expect, our results, and advice for future tests.

Attribution – Quick Overview

As defined by Google, “an attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths.” When deciding which model to employ, there a several to choose from:

  • Last Click
  • First Click
  • Linear
  • Time Decay
  • Data-Driven
  • Position-Based

The two different attribution models that we will cover here are Last Click and Position-Based. For more information about attribution models, for both your search and social platforms, check out the article about solving attribution woes written by our very own Mary Hartman.

Before diving in, here are two working definitions for Last Click and Position-Based.

Last Click –  This model will give all of the credit for a conversion to the ad that was last clicked and the corresponding keyword. This is the most common model.

Position-Based – This model will give 40% of the credit to both the first and last clicked ads and corresponding keyword, with the remaining 20% spread out across other clicks on the path.

Why make a switch?

I work with an Ecomm client that specializes in selling high-end products. The Last-Click model we had been using was not giving us the best picture to guide our decision making. Knowing that this product does not prompt impulse buys, we knew that we were overvaluing the last touchpoint on the customer journey. In fact, when we compare this client to a lead gen client we see that it takes the average customer about nine days before committing to a purchase compared to lead gen’s one day.

Here is an example of a lead gen client. 96.69% of conversions are completed in a day or less.

Google Ads Lead Gen Time Lag

In this example, our Ecomm client selling higher-end products has 25% of their conversions and 19% of revenue come in after 12+ days.


Google Ads E-Comm Time Lag

Using the Top Conversion Path report from Analytics as a guide, we can see that a Last Click attribution model could lead to the undervaluing of Display.

Google Analytics Channel Grouping Path

While customers may not end their journey with Display, it does play a significant role in the journey to conversion. Especially as this is often a customer’s introduction to the business. In the example above, if you receive a lead that is generated by display and closed by paid search and you are using the Last Click model, you risk undervaluing display while overvaluing paid search.

We landed on the Position-Based attribution model because this specific account was not eligible for Data-Driven. Here is more information about the data-driven attribution requirements. If Data-Driven is not an option, Position-Based attribution modeling is the next best option.

What Will Change?

After making the switch, you will begin to see partial conversions in your account.

Position-Based Conversion Breakdown

This means that there were interactions with these campaigns that did not result in a full conversion. They were, instead, a stepping stone on the customer journey.

Another change you can expect is for Brand conversions to marginally decrease. Before making any lasting changes, you can use Google’s nifty Attribution Tool.

Google ads Conversion Breakdown

For this account, moving from Last Click to Position-Based would result in 2.56 fewer conversions and a $1.42 increase in Cost / Conv in the Branded campaign.

 Non-Brand campaigns would result in about 3 more conversions. Again, don’t expect major shifts in data. This switch serves as a guidepost in determining which ads, keywords, ad groups, and/or campaigns are a part of the customer journey.



As expected, there weren’t major data changes. In this specific example, there were two extraneous factors at play:

  1. Seasonality
  2. Budget shifts

With this client, their business operates under heavy seasonality. Because of the extreme variations in MoM performance, we have found YoY data comparisons to be more helpful. Large and unforeseen budget shifts were also a factor. YoY we spent 28% more on paid search. MoM we shifted the budget down by $5,000. With spend varying so drastically, it is difficult to decipher the true impact of attribution changes.

YoY Google Ads Cost

Even with seasonality and budget changes in mind, we did see some changes in conversion rates. Non-brand conversion rates increased by 21%. This aligns with Position-Based attribution as we would expect Non-Brand to fall in the first to mid click path range.

Google Ads YoY Conv. Rate

Brand, however, had a decrease in conversion rate. Again, this is to be expected as Brand will typically be the last click before conversion and as we have shifted away from the Last Click model, we expect Brand conversions and rates to reflect this change.

Google Ads Brand YoY Conv. Rate

Conclusion & Advice

Seeing as how hindsight is 20/20, I have some advice for those of you hoping to test out a new attribution model. Firstly, begin the attribution test at the start of a month. This will give you fresh data and will allow you to compare new data to a whole, completed month. Next, if it is in your control, hold off testing this switch when going into any kind of seasonal downturn. It makes judging the overall effectiveness of the test complicated. Mitigating other major account shifts, such as large restructures or budget shifts will also help when concluding testing.

Overall, making the move to Position-Based caused us to value our Non-Branded campaigns more and to keep keywords we might have turned off with the Last Click model. With all things in PPC, happy testing friends!


Article updated by Tanner Schroeder (prior post date: 1/18/18)



5 Social Media Advertising Tips to Nail Your Efforts and Get Your Expected Results



5 Social Media Advertising Tips to Nail Your Efforts and Get Your Expected Results

Do you want your social media advertising efforts to succeed?

Of course, you do. 

According to data, brands saw 33% more purchase intent from exposure to LinkedIn ads.

The figure highlights how ads are more than just one of the social media marketing trends of 2022

With the right strategies, social media ads can help you raise awareness, boost website traffic, generate leads, and grow your sales. 

Jumpstart your efforts to optimize social media advertising with the five tips below. 

Let’s get right to it. 


1. Set Clear Social Media Advertising Goals

Reaching your goals is challenging if you don’t have a clear set of objectives to run your social media ads. 

You need to know what you want your social media advertising efforts to achieve since this will shape and inform your strategy. 

It can also help you choose the right tools, audiences to target, and the best platforms to run your ads.

For example, if your goal is to boost your engagement rate, you could run ads with trending or popular quotes on TikTok

It’s one way of drawing more eyeballs to your ads while engaging audiences with familiar content.   

Your social media advertising goals can include the following:

  • Raise awareness
  • Expand your brand’s reach
  • Drive traffic social traffic to your website
  • Boost your engagement rate
  • Generate more leads, clicks, and downloads
  • Increase your conversions and sales 

Once you’ve identified your goals, you can start looking for the best-fitting tools to help you implement your ad strategy and reach your targets. 

Consider platforms such as Vista Social. 

The social media management platform helps you plan, organize, prioritize, and schedule your content posting with its content calendar and auto-publishing features. 


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Identify your social media advertising objectives to determine how to best implement your strategy. 

Your goals can also tell you what metrics to track and measure to assess your ad’s performance. 

2. Understand Your Audience and How They Spend Their Time Online

Get the best bang for your buck by targeting audiences who need or want your products, services, and offers in your ads. 

After all, you’re not likely to achieve your social media ad campaign goals if you advertise to the wrong audience. 

For instance, running ads about your UI/UX software to people looking for reliable security testing tools won’t get you conversions. 

Know your target audience by developing personas (or refining your existing ideal buyer personas). 

It can help you understand the people and segments to target and focus your social advertising efforts on. 

Use Facebook Audience Insights to get an overview of your target audience demographics, interests, liked pages, activities, etc. 


Understanding your ideal buyers can help you to tailor your social media ads to their pain points and needs. It can increase the chances of your audiences clicking on your ads and acting on your offers. 

It also helps to know how your audiences spend their time online, including the social media platforms they frequent. 

Doing so gives you a good idea of the social media channels you should focus on and the content types that appeal to your potential customers. 

For instance, most younger audiences (teenagers to early 30s) are on Instagram. Visual elements such as images and videos work best for running ads on the platform. 

Determine your ideal buyers’ preferences, main interests, and the platform on which they’re most active.

Use the information to create social media ads that cater to your target audience’s needs, making your content irresistible. 

3. Learn About Your Social Advertising Options

While casting a wide net by advertising on multiple social media platforms can have certain benefits, it can also be tedious and resource-draining.

The key is to focus on at least three social media platforms to run your advertising campaigns. It can help you avoid stretching your team and resources too thin while getting results.  


Run ads on the following platforms depending on your social media advertising goals, target audiences, and campaigns.

  • Facebook. You can run various ad formats on Facebook, including videos, photos, and carousels that display on users’ news feeds. Other FB advertisement options are Messenger and Story ads. 

Facebook also offers the Lookalike audiences feature that lets you create targeted ads based on your known audiences or existing customers.  

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  • Instagram. Instagram offers similar ad formats and audience targeting features as Facebook under Meta Business.

For example, you can run an IG Story ad on how customers can buy SEO articles as part of your efforts to promote your SEO marketing services.

  • Twitter. Select or create a tweet that you want Twitter to show people who are not following you to advertise on the platform. You can choose audiences to target based on user behavior, demographics, interests, and who they follow.  

The Twitter Promote option can advertise your tweets with a monthly charge. 

  • TikTok. You can run TikTok video ads with brand filters and branded hashtags. TikTok also provides an automated creative optimization feature. It tests combinations of your video, copy, and images to the ads that work best for you.  

Focus on running ads on the social media platforms that make the most sense for you. 

Follow content writing time-tested tips to help you create compelling ad copies and Calls-to-Action (CTAs). 

4. Test Your Social Media Ads

Test your various social media ads to assess and improve their performance. 

Start A/B testing several ads initially with small audiences. It can help you determine the ads (and ad elements) that work best and use the top-performing ad in your main campaign. 

You get instant feedback with social media, so you can learn what ads work (and don’t) for your brand faster. 

Use a reliable social media ad analytics tool to test your ads and make improvements efficiently. 

For instance, Facebook offers a built-in A/B testing feature for your ads.  

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A/B testing takes away the guesswork on what ad element or variation you need to tweak and improve to get better results. 


5. Track and Measure Social Media Ad Results and Performance

Tracking and measuring your social media ad performance can tell you if you’ve reached your targets. 

You’ll know whether your social media ads perform well (or not) and what aspects worked and didn’t work. It gives you the information you need to improve your ads moving forward. 

Measure your results to get reliable data about your ad’s value to your company, such as leads and purchases, and prove Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). 

Develop a well-thought-out content tracking strategy to help monitor and assess your social media ads’ performance and returns. 

It can also help you determine if your ads contribute to your entire social media marketing efforts. 

Nail Your Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising isn’t as easy as pie, but it’s not rocket science. 

Kick off your efforts with this guide’s social media advertising tips to set you on the path to success. 

Continue learning, testing, and improving to run effective social media ads that help you reach your targets and get the results you expect. 


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