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Attributing Conversions to your Campaign

New to attribution? Read this first.

Defining a conversion allows us to let you know when someone completes the action you desire. But how do you know when someone completed the action because they saw your ad? In other words, how do you attribute conversions to your campaign?

An attribution scenario

On the way to work one morning, a potential customer sees one of your ads on their phone, but they don't click through. Later, on their computer at work, they see a search ad and click through to your website where they do a little research into your products. That night, while they're checking their favorite social app on a tablet, they see a retargeting ad and click through to complete their purchase.

In a simple world, your customer would have interacted with your ad once and completed their purchase right away. You could then give that ad 100% of the credit for your new customer. Much more realistic is that your customer could have touched any number of your marketing channels (three, in the above example) that each contribute to your customer making that purchase.

Unless you're in the head of your customer, you will never know exactly how much impact each ad made on the decision to buy. That is why establishing a reasonable attribution model is so important to measuring your campaign's performance.

Attribution is not a perfect science and there are many competing theories about what the most accurate method for determining a realistic attribution model is. You can read our guide on attribution here, and we definitely encourage you to do some research on your own to find the attribution model that is right for you.


How do I adjust attribution for AdRoll?

Attribution can be adjusted in "Attribution Settings." Find this section in "Settings" (gear icon in the top right corner). There you will find the option to adjust attribution for both your click-through conversions and view-through conversions.

  • Click-through conversions are conversions that resulted after someone clicked on one of your ads.
  • View-through conversions are conversions that resulted after someone viewed one of your ads.

For each of these types of conversions, you have two levers to adjust: conversion window and attribution percentage.


Conversion windows

Your conversion window is the number of days that can elapse after your visitor's interaction with your ad within which the conversion will be attributed to your campaign. AdRoll's default conversion window setting is 7 days. You can change this anytime by navigating to SettingsAttribution Settings and choosing your conversion window.

  • A 7-day conversion window means that if your customer converts within 7 days after viewing or clicking on your ad, the campaign that served the ad will get credit for it.
  • 5-day conversion window means that if someone converts six days after seeing or clicking on your ad, the campaign that served the ad will not get credit for it.

A realistic conversion window will take into account your sales cycle, or how much time it might realistically take your customer to make a decision to buy. For example, it likely takes someone longer to decide to buy a car than it would a pair of socks.


Attribution Percentage

Your attribution percentage controls what portion of attributable conversions are actually credited to your campaign. 

  • If you attribute 100% of conversions, all attributable conversions that occur within your conversion window will be credited to your campaign.
  • If you attribute 50% of conversions, only half of total attributable conversions that occurred within your conversion window will count.

What the attribution percentage allows you to do is programmatically adjust attributed conversions based on consideration for likely impacts. For example, if you have more than one active marketing channel (like in the scenario above).


Attribution for view-through conversions

One of the simplest ways to measure the success of your online campaigns is to track click-through conversions—you know that your visitor clicked on your ad and then converted into a customer as a result.

View-through conversions are a little trickier since there is no definitive action to show that your visitor engaged with your ad. But remember, not everyone clicks!  In fact, studies have shown that only 16% of people ever click, and half of those (8%) account for 85% of all clicks on display ads.

Even if a customer does not click on your ad—whether its because they got distracted or preferred to follow up on your offer in a different window or day—the ad has still served as a compelling reminder of your brand. And this brand recognition does result in a lift in conversions. Just ask Facebook or Google. Measuring VTCs reveals the true value of campaigns that raise awareness of your brand to keep it top of mind.

Not sure what to specify?

There is no single way to value view-through conversions, but in a study of the 93% of marketers (that's a big majority) that do attribute view-through conversions, most attribute around 25% of VTCs within a 30 day window and 100% for CTCs.


Cross-Device Attribution 

Accounting for cross-device usage among your customers is essential to understanding the full impact of campaigns that run ads on both desktop and mobile. With AdRoll, you can opt in your desktop campaigns to access cross-device targeting. 
To track this, the AdRoll platform drops cookies, or small data files, to recognize a unique visitor and identify their devices as they move between different websites and applications (usually via a hashed version of a login identifier such as email). This process allows us to track conversions that your audience makes across platforms. You can learn more about how we use this data for cross-device attribution in our terms of service and privacy notice.
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