Optimizing for conversions made easy with Search Funnels data in your AdWords tabs

Search Funnels show you how users search for products before converting, allowing you to make better informed decisions in AdWords. Now, we're making it easier than ever to incorporate Search Funnels data into your everyday optimizations by introducing new Search Funnels columns that you can simply add to your campaign, ad group, keyword and ads tabs.  You should see this feature available in your account within the next couple of days.

If you’ve enabled conversion tracking, you’ll be able to see a new section within the column customizer for Search Funnels.  This section will allow you to add columns for many common Search Funnels metrics, such as assist clicks, click assisted conversions, and assist impressions.

If you’ve already enabled AdWords conversion tracking and are ready to get started, you can try some of our favorite optimization techniques:
  • Find keywords that are best at assisting conversions -  Look for keywords with low conversion rates and a high click-assisted conversions / last-click conversion ratio. These keywords contribute significant conversion assists, meaning they are important early in the buying cycle as they drive visitors who are still researching your site. Consider setting up automated rules to increase your bids when conversion assists cross a certain threshold.   Also, try creating a separate ad group for these keywords with ads that are geared more towards research than immediate purchase.
  • Pay your assist keywords their fair share -  Make sure you’re not underbidding for keywords with assist clicks. You could be missing conversions if your bid management strategy only accounts for last-click conversions. Keywords with assist clicks are in the click path of users who eventually convert, so it’s important to assign value to these keywords.
  • Update your underperforming ads - Consider revising ads that have impression-assisted conversions and have a strong average position. These ads were shown to users who eventually converted but who did not click. Entice potential customers to visit your site with stronger call-to-action phrases in your ad creative. You may also want to consider raising your bids on these keywords if your average position is low to ensure that people see your ads.
Success in action

Jimdo, an international Internet company helping people build their own websites, talked to us about their success using Search Funnels columns:

Using the Search Funnels columns in AdWords has allowed us to both improve the volume of sales and efficiency that AdWords delivers.

By using these columns, and in particular the ratio of assisted conversions to last click conversions, we are able to identify and value keywords that play an important role in the upper funnel. Now knowing their importance, we improved our bids for these keywords, and have seen overall conversions increase by 30% and our ROI increase by 16%.

For more details on how to enable Search Funnels columns in your core reports, visit our help center.

Posted By Dan Friedman, Product Manager, AdWords

lastminute.com Finds That Traditional Conversion Tracking Significantly Undervalues Non-brand Search

Understanding the true impact of advertising

Advertisers have a fundamental need to understand the effectiveness of their advertising. Unfortunately, determining the true impact of advertising on consumer behavior is deceptively difficult. This difficulty in measurement is especially applicable to advertising on non-brand (i.e. generic) search terms, where ROI may be driven indirectly over multiple interactions that include downstream brand search activities. Advertising effectiveness is often estimated using standard tracking processes that rely upon ‘Last Click’ attribution. However, ‘Last Click’ based tracking can significantly underestimate the true value of non-brand search advertising. This fact was recently demonstrated by lastminute.com, a leading travel brand, using a randomized experiment - the most rigorous method of measurement.

Experimental Approach

lastminute.com recently conducted an online geo-experiment to measure the effectiveness of their non-brand search advertising on Google AdWords.  The study included offline and online conversions.  The analysis used a mathematical model to account for seasonality and city-level differences in sales.  Cities were randomly assigned to either a test or a control group. The test group received non-brand search advertising during the 12 week test period, while the control group did not receive such advertising during the same period. The benefit of this approach is that it allows statements to be made regarding the causal relationship between non-brand search advertising and the volume of conversions - the real impact of the marketing spend.

Full lastminute.com case study


The results of the experiment indicate that the overall effectiveness of the non-brand search advertising is 43% greater1  than the estimate generated by lastminute.com’s standard online tracking system.

The true impact of the non-brand search advertising is significantly larger than the ‘Last Click’ estimate because it accounts for
  1. upper funnel changes in user behavior that are not visible to a ‘Last Click’ tracking system, and
  2. the impact of non-brand search on sales from online and offline channels.
This improved understanding of the true value of non-brand search advertising has given lastminute.com the opportunity to revise their marketing strategy and make better budgeting decisions.

How can you benefit?

As proven by this study, ‘Last Click’ measurement can significantly understate the true effectiveness of search advertising. Advertisers should look to assess the performance of non-brand terms using additional metrics beyond ‘Last Click’ conversions. For example, advertisers should review the new first click conversions and assist metrics available in AdWords and Google Analytics. Ideally, advertisers will design and carry out experiments of their own to understand how non-brand search works to drive sales.

Read more on AdWords Search Funnels
Read more on Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels

Anish Acharya, Industry Analyst, Google; Stefan F. Schnabl, Product Manager, Google; Gabriel Hughes, Head of Attribution, Google; and Jon Vaver, Senior Quantitative Analyst, Google contributed to this report.

1 This result has a 95% Bayesian confidence interval of [1.17, 1.66].

Posted by Jeremy Tully, Inside AdWords Crew

Search Attribution: AdWords Search Funnels

In last week’s webinar on search attribution, we explored how AdWords Search Funnels can show you the full search path your customers take prior to purchasing or “converting” on your site. This path can include different types of keywords, ranging from early searches on generic keywords (often referred to as “upper funnel” or awareness-generating keywords) to later searches for your specific brand. By better understanding the full search path and the role that different keywords played in leading your customers to buy or convert, you’ll be able to improve your advertising campaigns.

During the webinar, we walked through the Search Funnels reports, the insights the tool can provide, and some practical uses:

We received a lot of great questions from webinar participants. We weren’t able to get to all of them during the allotted time, so below are some responses and more pointers on Search Funnels.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital marketing attribution, you can also watch the previous recordings in our attribution webinar series and register for our upcoming webinars:

  • Attribution Insights from Google and Econsultancy (4/26/2012) – watch recording here
  • Building Blocks of Digital Attribution (5/24/2012) – watch recording here
  • Search Attribution: AdWords Search Funnels (6/20/2012) – watch recording here
  • Multi-Channel Funnels: Attribution Across Channels (8/9/2012) – register here
  • Next Steps with Attribution – registration details coming soon

What is digital attribution? What is search attribution?
Digital attribution is the process of assigning credit to the various online interactions your customer has before a “conversion” (conversion = making a purchase or performing some other valuable action on your site). These interactions could include display ads, paid or organic search results, email campaigns, affiliate coupon programs, social network posts, and other digital interactions. Today, many marketers by default use “last click” attribution, assigning all of the credit to the last interaction before a conversion rather than considering the entire conversion path.

Search attribution focuses specifically on understanding and assigning credit to the keyword searches, search ad impressions, and search ad clicks a customer performed before converting. The Search Funnels reports allow you to view these “search paths” in detail and how some keywords assist conversions earlier in the path while other keywords occur later in the path, immediately before a conversion. By understanding the role these keywords play in the conversion path, you’ll be better equipped to design your search marketing programs.

What are the requirements for Search Funnels?
Search Funnels works automatically with AdWords Conversion Tracking. Once this feature has been set up, the Search Funnels reports are automatically available within the AdWords interface. If you aren’t yet using Conversion Tracking, Bill Kee’s recent webinar on the Building Blocks of Digital Attribution provides a great overview on how to set up Conversion Tracking. You may also wish to view our help center articles on Conversion Tracking and Search Funnels.

Could you please define the Search Funnels terms?
Sure, during the webinar we provided some definitions. Here they are:

  • Search Funnel: Report describing Google.com search ad click and impression behavior prior to a conversion 
  • Conversion Path: Sequence of ad clicks and impressions leading up to a conversion 
  • Last Clicks: Any search ad click that happened immediately preceding a conversion 
  • Assist Clicks: Any search ad click that happened prior to the “last click” before a conversion 
  • Assist Impressions: Any search ad impression that was not clicked and happened prior to a conversion 
  • Assist Clicks / Last Clicks: The ratio of assist clicks / last clicks for a particular campaign, ad-group, or keyword 
  • Assist Impressions / Last Clicks: The ratio of assist impressions / last clicks for a particular campaign, ad-group, or keyword
This is my first time using Search Funnels, what three analyses do you recommend?
Search Funnels offers some great ways to quickly pull out some actionable insights. First, in the Assisted Conversions report, sorting in descending order by the ratios “Assist Clicks / Last Clicks” and “Assist Impressions / Last Clicks” provides an easy way to identify which of your keywords assist the most conversions and are having most of their contribution overlooked in AdWords’ last-click model. You may choose to test different bidding or budget strategies for these keywords to ensure you capture their value. For example, if a particular keyword has a ratio of three, then for every last click conversion the keyword provides, three additional assists were provided. The keyword would receive no credit for these assists within AdWords under the last-click model. However, utilizing the insights gained from Search Funnels you may wish to explore whether increasing this keyword’s bid drives more users down the conversion path by placing these high-assisting ads in higher positions.

Second, the ‘Time Lag’ report can help you to identify how long your customers take to convert. In particular, the ‘Time From First Impression’ report can help you approximate your customers’ research cycle, from the time they first see one of your search ads, to them eventually converting with you. Within this report, you may also want to explore whether your most valuable customers take a certain period of time to convert. For example, many advertisers find that customers that consider their purchase for longer are actually more valuable customers.

Finally, the top paths report is another great resource. You can dive in to the most common paths your customers take before converting with you. In particular, you can try to identify whether customers begin their journey by researching on broad generic keywords and whether they complete their conversion on more branded keywords.

What is the history window and how important is it?
By default, Search Funnels includes all of the paid search interactions your customers had in the 30 days prior to the conversion occurring. However, this feature can be customized by selecting from the drop down menu at the top of the interface. You can select to change the history window to either 60 or 90 days. This is an important consideration. The length of time that makes most sense for you will likely depend on the type of products you sell. For example, if you’re a business that sells high-consideration product or services, you may want to extend the window to 90 days, as it may take customers a long time to purchase and you would want to ensure that you include all of their interactions with your search advertising. Before selecting a history window, you may also want to examine the ‘time lag’ report to identify on average how long it takes your users to convert.

What are impression assists? And how should I value them?
Impression assists occur when a customer sees one of your search ads, but does not click on it, before later clicking on another of your ads and converting. The impression could be providing a branding effect.  For example, if you are getting a lot of assist impressions and their average position is relatively high, it's possible that those impressions had a positive impact on the customer coming back and converting later. You could test this hypothesis by bidding keywords to different positions and measuring the impact on impression assisted conversions.

What about attribution beyond search?
Search Funnels uncovers a crucial part of the path to conversion by showing all of your Google search ads that a user either saw or clicked on, before they converted for you. However, you may be interested in understanding how your customers interact with your other online channels too. In our upcoming webinar on August 9, we’ll be walking through Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels, which allows you to examine not only the path within paid search, but also display, organic search, social, e-mail marketing, and more. Register here.

Happy analyzing!

Posted by Simon Rosen, Global Sales Lead for Search Funnels and AdWords Conversion Tracking

Introducing the Japan and Asia-Pacific Conversion Room

Google Analytics, Google Website Optimizer, Search Funnels, and AdWords Conversion Tracking - these are some of our favorite tools for measuring and optimizing conversions on websites. These tools help you maximize your return on investment whether your site exists to share information, generate leads, or make sales.

We recently started the Japan and Asia-Pacific (JAPAC) Conversion Room and Blog. Over the last two years we've seen a tremendous uptake of Google’s conversion products in this region, celebrated many success stories with users, and witnessed the development of local expertise. The JAPAC Conversion Room aims to inspire JAPAC (and global) online marketers to maximize conversions through sharing success stories and expert tips from this region.

If you're drawn to digital marketing, optimizing for conversions, and have an interest in the Japan and Asia-Pacific region, then head on over to the site and subscribe to get all of the latest articles.