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, a leading travel brand, using a randomized experiment - the most rigorous method of measurement.

Experimental Approach 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 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’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 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

Digital marketing made (much) easier: Introducing Google Tag Manager

(Cross posted from the Analytics Blog)

Over the past few years, we’ve seen massive improvements in digital marketing sophistication and capabilities. Today there’s a rich suite of tools allowing marketers to gain better insights, reach audiences in new ways, and develop improved marketing campaigns so users have better web experiences. Yet many modern marketing tools—like web analytics, conversion tracking, remarketing, and more—depend on adding "tags" to your website.

Website tags help enable today’s sophisticated digital marketing technologies
Tags are tiny bits of website code can help provide useful insights, but they can also cause challenges. Too many tags can make sites slow and clunky; incorrectly applied tags can distort your measurement; and it can be time-consuming for the IT department or webmaster team to add new tags—leading to lost time, lost data, and lost conversions.

We’ve been hard at work to help take the pain out of tagging for everyone. That’s why today, we’re announcing our first release of Google Tag Manager. We’re launching globally in English, and the product will soon be available in many other languages.

Google Tag Manager is a free tool that consolidates your website tags with a single snippet of code and lets you manage everything from a web interface. You can add and update your own tags, with just a few clicks, whenever you want, without bugging the IT folks or rewriting site code. It gives marketers greater flexibility, and lets webmasters focus on other important tasks. Take a quick look at how easy it is to set up an account and manage your tags:

Google Tag Manager is built to handle your tagging needs, and it works with Google and non-Google website tags. We’ve packed in lots of great features, including:
  • Asynchronous tag loading—so your tags can fire faster without getting in each other's way, and without slowing down the user-visible part of the page
  • Easy-to-use tag templates, so marketers can quickly add tags with our web interface, as well as support for custom tags
  • Error-prevention tools like Preview mode (so you can see proposed changes before implementing them), the Debug Console, and Version History to ensure that new tags won’t break your site
  • User permissions and multi-account functionality to make it easy for large teams and agencies and clients to work together with appropriate levels of access
  • Plus we have exciting plans to add great new features over the next several months

We’re also happy to announce our tag vendor program: If your company provides tag technology and you’d like Google Tag Manager to include a template for your tag, please contact us here to become a tag vendor.

Dozens of companies have already begun using Google Tag Manager and have seen great results. Ameet Arurkar, Director of Search Engine Marketing at QuinStreet, reports:
“Google Tag Manager took one big chunk of time out of the tagging process. What took 2 weeks now takes less than a day—sometimes just hours. We, the campaign managers, now make the call on which tags to use, and we can implement the tags ourselves.”

“Google Tag Manager just makes business sense. Why would we want to manually add hundreds of tags for our pages?”

Setting up Google Tag Manager is quick and easy—you create an account, add one snippet of code to your site, then start managing tags. If you want more help, contact a Google Certified Partner—they’ve been carefully vetted and meet rigorous qualification standards.

Get started today at

Posted by Laura Holmes, Product Manager, Google Tag Manager