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Julie F Bacchini hosted this week’s PPCChat session about attribution, client expectations around it, where it is working and not working well, how the platforms could make attribution better and a lot more was discussed by PPC experts.


Q1: Are you doing or attempting to do any kind of attribution currently? If so, what are you doing?


Every dang day, I wrap myself up in attribution mind puzzles! We do a lot of cross channel marketing. We try to perfect our Google Data studio dashboards to tell as much of the story as possible. We use Google Analytics as the base but the individual platforms to optimize accounts.  I love talking/discussing attribution. If anyone has a brain teaser feel free to message me any time. – @elevatedmrktng

Always! Basically, using a ton of tools like GA, FB Analytics, FB Attribution, Marketo, and Salesforce to understand the full customer lifecycle. – @jdprater

No I am not but would like to know some tips to doing so. – @fashionabletamy

Currently no, but greatly aware of the need.- @Mike_Jarmz

I agree about Google Analytics being the base of operations for attribution attempts. I find it involves pulling bits and pieces from other sources too, which is part of what drives me nuts. – @NeptuneMoon

Attribution is CRITICAL. At the end of the day it’s hard for us to have jobs if we can’t prove our worth. The modeling depends 100% from company to company. buttt I may be biased because I just joined a tracking/attribution company – @markpgus

Not as much as I would like us to be doing. – @adwordsgirl

Have gotten most clients moved either to DDA (where available) or Position-Based. No MAJOR changes as a result, but we FEEL like it’s a better view, at least – @akaEmmaLouise

Yes, looking at options around liner and position based with our tech and ecommerce clients. We know more then last click matters and it’s important to look at how people start on their journey. – @duanebrown

Yes but it’s never perfect…or anywhere close to perfect. Just interviewed someone today who only knew of because of a coffee mug! Try to track that in GA. – @jordonmeyer

We currently have Last Click attribution across our accounts and campaigns, and we’re looking into transitioning in Time Decay or Position-Based. – 

Yes. Attribution is one of those things you have to be constantly working on. I’ve yet to see someone “solve” it. – 

Yeah, we’re big on multi touch and view through conversions – 



Q2: What are your clients’ attitudes and expectations when it comes to attribution? Do you try to educate them on what can and cannot be done?


It depends, some clients are flexible and understandable and others what it now and know that they are some things you are unable to do and not willing to pay for the customization as well. We do try to educate them in the best on what can be don. – @fashionabletamy

Gotta set that expectation early that attribution will never be 100% accurate. I think some clients assume it can, so SET IT EARLY. – @ericdfarmer

I tend to see extremes: that you can “track everything” all the way down the line, or that “you can’t trust anything.” I try to explain some theory but it’s a hard route. – @ferkungamaboobo

We constantly educate on attribution on what can and can’t be done. It’s frustrating as those that are not knee deep in it daily think it’s a lot easier than what it is. You want all the credit you can get but at what cost of manually pulling information? Every call with a client, I feel like attribution is discussed just as a reminder of the limitations in place. A lot of challenges come into play of someone wanting to know specific results of specific channels. Explaining scenarious of how it can get lost on Google Analytics with last click attribution is a constant conversation.  – @elevatedmrktng

it varies client to client. Some have a ton of experience with it and help assist with tagging, CRM access, back-end data dumps = awesome. Others it’s a total 101 education exercise. Both sides are fun though. – @jordonmeyer

It depends on our relationship with the client. Some demand/desire to know as much as they can about what we do for them so they understand our decisions. Others are much more hands-off. We always try to choose the best forms of measurement for their business goals. – @ClkContrl

I feel like I do a lot of educating because of the perception that everything is totally 100% trackable in digital, cause we all know it is not. Agree on expectation settings. We have more data than other media, but not omniscient data. – @NeptuneMoon

We’re constantly working with our clients to educate them. – @adwordsgirl

I found the biggest barrier to getting clients on board was helping them to understand that a different attribution model doesn’t change any total conversion numbers, it just spreads the same total around multiple campaigns. – @marcusknight

Very few clients understand it, but the ones that do are the most helpful with putting the data puzzle pieces together. – @Mike_Jarmz

All clients want some form of Attribution. I like to have conversations about getting away from last click / in platform metrics. A lot of small companies aren’t sophisticated enough to really use it in their businesses though. Enterprises get it! – @markpgus

not even in pipeline of discussions unfortunately. – @mindswanppc

Our clients are more concerned with getting conversions and not so much with how they’re attributed. – @marccxmedia

Not sure it’s something many think about as they have a dozen balls in the same. We always try to educate the client when we can. – @duanebrown

“Why wouldn’t we do last click?!!!!” ~said by every single client I deal with  – 



Q3: Where is attribution working really well for you? And how is that happening?


We’ve become good at Google Tag Manager. It has really helped us carring over conversions from say Google analytics to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more. – @elevatedmrktng

I am hard pressed to say any attribution is working “really well”. I feel like what we have at this juncture does ok at shedding some light on some situations, but I don’t love making decisions based on incomplete data. –  I am hard pressed to say any attribution is working “really well”. I feel like what we have at this juncture does ok at shedding some light on some situations, but I don’t love making decisions based on incomplete data… – @NeptuneMoon

One of the best attribution wins for us is Store Visit metrics for large brick and click retailers. If Google, FB or Bing bring this to the masses it’s a game changer for SMBs. – @jordonmeyer

If I silo Facebook analytics then it has definitely helped me when testing objective, targeting, etc. to increase purchases. Trying to use it for cross-channel gets trickier. Ideas? – @ericdfarmer

Works best when we can integrate & access certain CRM data. Visualizing customer touch points, etc. – @Mike_Jarmz

We’ve been using GTM in a pretty basic manner so far but I’m hoping to learn more about it so we step our game up – @adwordsgirl

Works great on search… though Google has been working at it a longer time then other ad platforms. We try to make GA our source of truth for clients and where we pull data from. – @duanebrown

Attribution is always going to be confusing. Ensuring that you are working off of a single dataset is most important IMO. – @markpgus

It works, for one. We’re hoping that switching to Time Decay or Position will shed a little more light on search traffic. – @marccxmedia

Our view through is really helping to prove out GDN – 



Q4: Where is attribution NOT working really well for you? Why do you think it is not working as well as it could/should? (The frustrations question is coming next!)


Social ads are tricky. There are conversions that are only specific to their platforms that can’t be pulled into Google Analytics. That’s frustrating. Linkedin, Twitter, and Reddit have so many limitations when it comes to attribution for them at least Facebook is getting there – @elevatedmrktng

it’s not working well with cross-device and cross-channel, especially GA. Which is like FB Analytics because they focus on people not devices. – @jdprater

I think “geo fencing” and large aggressive buys in Display or YouTube throw attribution off the hinges and thus attribution doesn’t really “work” in those scenarios. Saturation is not causation. ?  – @jordonmeyer

Attribution gets tricky when you can’t pull all interactions into your single “source of truth” For instance FB Interactions, youtube views, Ad views. These all stay in their respective platforms which makes it hard to gauge their impact across the board – @markpgus

When Facebook reports an order of magnitude higher conversion value than Google Analytics. I get that last click isn’t the whole story, but that doesn’t feel like the whole story either – @JasonStinnett

Facebook … if you want to do GA as a source and not just what is in the FB platform. – @duanebrown



Q5: What is your biggest frustration with attribution?


Missing non-digital marketing changes. – @ferkungamaboobo

How manual it can be a and completely different for each client and their situation. Also how things just “disconnect” that were tracking something for no apparent reason. – @elevatedmrktng

*Not throwing shade* Biggest frustration is that people talk about it more than do anything with it. Truth. But…we talk about it because we want to figure it out.  – @jordonmeyer

The incredibly pervasive myth that everything is trackable. It’s not. It never will be (at least not until we all have chips implanted in us). Also, that branding & awareness campaigns & initiatives are not considered as valuable as they should be. . – @NeptuneMoon

I used to have a client who said “Look, I know the numbers aren’t going to add up. But it’s the best we got. It’s in the right direction, and we need to take action.” And we did. He was THE BEST. Not many clients like him. – @LisaSanner

Client acceptance – 

How custom & time consuming it can be. It’s never going to be perfect, and it’s not a one size fits all approach……but thats what makes this fun….right??? – @Mike_Jarmz

My love hate is that we will never 100% solve it – @duanebrown



Q6: Are there tangible things, in your opinion, that the platforms could do to make attribution better?


Share data? – @ericdfarmer

I would love to see assisted conversions, across multiple platforms (specifically GA) – 

I would gladly pay a monthly fee for Google Analytics if it would import data from other platforms with the level of detail it does for its own products. – @NeptuneMoon

Yes! If the platforms got out of the attribution game all together and let 3rd parties plug into the system… That’ll never happen though. – @markpgus

I’d like to see some agreeance across platforms on naming conventions but I know that won’t happen. For instance, Facebook’s infamous “clicks” that’s not the same as “clicks” in Google ads.  I am thankful for doing a great job pulling as much information as possible into Google data studio so you can have one reporting system. – @elevatedmrktng

Bot blocking. Take a look at how much traffic you’re getting from Ashburn, VA in GA. – @ferkungamaboobo

Other than creating a monopoly or collusion with other platforms? But really, we would need some type of universal cookie or a global system that connects everything to the final point of sale / conversion to make it work. Feels impossible right now. – @jordonmeyer

I’d love to be able to scrub the data within GA, especially when UTM’s are wrong or broken. Also, would be great to be able to add labels to conversions or sources or mediums or URIs. Something equivalent to dimensions in Google Ads. Let me mold my own data. – @timmhalloran

Make their platforms play nicer together. This is not a 100% winner take all game and never will be – @duanebrown

A metrics standardization data “warehouse”where everything is verified/standardized and tied to a single unique person. – @Mike_Jarmz



Q7: Are there general expectations about what the current capabilities of attribution that you wish would just go away?


Attribution has been a hot topic for years now, and each year the expectation for it to be 100% accurate increases. – @ericdfarmer

he concept it is only for display – @JonKagan

Let go of wanting to track every cent spent directly back to something. Seriously, marketing is about influencing people’s thinking and that can be incremental and slow. And, that is ok. I wish more people had the long view. Digital has evaporated a lot of it. – @NeptuneMoon



Q8: If a genie could grant you one wish re: attribution, what would it be? Side note, we have been watching Aladdin A LOT since Christmas at my house!


a switch to flip to activate it all  – @JonKagan

My wish would be for clients to get their acts together on their backends. We can talk about the data we access in platforms and Analytics all we want, but feedback from clients about their customers from our work is SO IMPORTANT & so many simply don’t have it.  – @NeptuneMoon

Would be great if someone could cleanup/organize all client data, CRM, CMS, GA, GTM, etc – @Mike_Jarmz


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