Paid Search Attribution

Solutions to getting Paid Search Attribution right

The Attribution Challenge

Marketeers want to know what works: the channels, campaigns and keywords that perform best to attract new leads and customers.

For Digital Marketeers, paid search attribution is key: making the link from an advert on Google, Facebook or Instagram to a business sale. Without attribution, Marketeers know total marketing spend and total business sales but have no way to know which campaigns are delivering and so optimise their activity. With attribution they can pause or re-focus activity that doesn't work, dial-up successful ads and attach a monetary value to each campaign. In short, attribution is the only way to have sensible conversations about marketing budgets and business outcomes because attribution demonstrates the direct linkage between the two.

Given this, it's surprising how often attribution is only partially in place. The 3 most common gaps are:

  1. No campaign tracking beyond an ad click - and an ad click is typically a long way off a sale
  2. Dropping the campaign or customer identifier when passing a lead to the CRM system
  3. Failing to send the conversion signal back to the ad source when a lead converts to a paying customer

Making the link between search and a paying customer is more simple when the whole journey is online - for example for an eCommerce website. However, when there are multiple steps in the process of a lead converting to a customer, and particularly when some of those steps are offline, this becomes harder and the link between the paid search campaign and the customer often gets lost.

Secondary challenges

For companies with end-to-end attribution in-place, some additional areas to get right:

  • Keeping campaign tracking information as customers browse around the website: The standard idea of a 'landing page' is that customers see an ad, click on it and then fill out a form. What happens when a customer browses around the website before submitting a form? Is the tracking data still passed to the CRM system?
  • Tracking prospects before they decide to find out more: A visitor might visit multiple times over multiple days before choosing to take the next step with a company. Before this happens companies want a way to track unique customers and how they interact.
  • Multiple searches and ad clicks before converting to a paying customer: Known as 'Multi-touch attribution', when prospects see multiple ads and, after clicking on a few, convert to a product sale companies want to track the different campaign interactions. This allows them to apportion the value created by different marketing and nurturing activity to get the right mix of marketing effort.
Making Marketing Work

All of these challenges can be readily addressed and this website is here to help. We have how-to guides and simple tools to connect-up common marketing and sales platforms to make modern marketing work.

Our first how-to guide: Google Paid Search Attribution

This website and the guides are currently in beta: please send any feedback to

Charles Allen