Attribution Reports. Are You Using Them?

We talk a lot about conversions here in the Atria blog.

It’s mentioned as the most important element of managing your marketing budget. And it comes up often in talk about automatic bidding strategies.

In short, our professional marketing agents know the important role conversions play in your AdWords campaigns, so we talk about it whenever we get the chance. This is why we’re going to mention it again in today’s blog post about attribution reports.

What’s an Attribution Report?

Attribution reports show you the path visitors take when completing a purchase.

In order to use attribution reports, you must first set up conversion tracking, which comes in several flavors that define which part of a customer’s journey gets credit for their conversion.

Attribution reports come in a variety of styles as well, but they all use data derived from conversion tracking.

Conversion Tracking Options

You can find a detailed discussion about AdWords’ conversion tracking options in this Atria blog post.

As a quick recap, you should know the names of the six options – Last click, First click, Linear, Time decay, Position-based, and Data-driven – and how they affect your understanding of your ads’ performance.

Last click gives credit for a conversion to the final keyword a user clicked before making a purchase. First click gives attribution to the first keyword in that sequence.

Linear distributes credit equally to all keywords a user clicked in their journey. Time delay prioritizes those keywords clicked closer to the time of purchase. Position-based prioritizes the first and last keywords, but gives some credit to those keywords in between.

Finally, Data-driven uses data such as the time of an ad’s exposure or an ad’s creativity to make a judgment call about which keywords deserve the most credit.

You can change attribution options in two ways. If you’re using the new AdWords dashboard (the ‘tool’ icon, which looks like a wrench, will be in the top-right corner of your dashboard), do this:

  1. Click the tool icon
  2. In the tool’s dropdown menu, navigate to Measurement and select Conversions
  3. Click on the conversion you want to edit
  4. Click Edit Settings then Attribution Model, and select your desired attribution model
  5. Save your work

If you’re using the old AdWords dashboard (you will see a gear icon instead of a wrench), do this:

  1. Click the Tools tab and select the Conversions option
  2. Follow steps 3-5 above

For further reading, check out Google’ help page on the issue.

Back to Attribution Reports

Now that you’ve selected your conversion tracking options, you should wait a few days or weeks to gather some conversion data. Once you know your ads have converted a sufficient number of customers, you can dive into the various reports about those conversions.

To view the reports we’ll discuss here:

  • If you’re using the new AdWords experience, click the tool icon, navigate to Measurement and select Search attribution
  • If you’re in the old experience, click the Tools tab and select Attribution

Now you will find a list of reports, including one Attribution overview and multiple Conversions, Cross-device Activity, Paths, and Click Analysis reports.

The Attribution overview report offers the highest-level view of your conversions. It shows how many conversions your ads have generated, and it lays out the number of clicks and impressions that were necessary to create those conversions.

The multiple Conversions reports address the manner in which your clients have completed their conversions. For instance, the Click-assisted report shows which conversions were assisted by clicks. Similarly, the Impression-assisted report shows which ones were assisted by impressions.

Cross-device Activity reports split into individual selections about Devices, Assisting Devices, and Device Paths that provide you will a detailed look at where and when users interacted with similar ads on multiple devices. If you have ads running for desktop and mobile, this is the place to see if those ads have interacted with the same users.

There are a handful of Paths reports. You can use these reports to show the click or impression journey a customer took on the way to their conversion. For instance, you can see the last ten impressions a user saw. Or you can view that same user’s transition between different keywords on their way to a single purchase.

Click-analysis reports find out which keywords were most influential in getting customers to your website. Was it the first keyword they clicked, the last, or an intermediary?

Lastly, you can use the Attribution Modeling report to view the rules you have assigned for conversion credit. This report is a reflection the conversion tracking options you would have selected if you followed the instructions in the previous section of this blog post.

Be sure to also see the Google help page about attribution reports. If you search for ‘Attribution terminology’ in that page, there is a helpful glossary of terms used when addressing the various reports and their contents.


We know this is a lot to absorb. Our professional marketers here at Atria have years of experience in the industry, and we’re ready to help your business in any way we can.

Whether you want to begin a new AdWords campaign or just better understand your conversion tracking options, our office is only an email or phone call away.