Using Google Display and Linear Attribution to Drive Conversions

Using Google Display and Linear Attribution to Drive Conversions

By Shaun KanaryFeb 23 /2023

Any marketer worth their salt will tell you, people rarely become buyers the first time they come across your brand or offering. Sales simply aren’t that, well, simple. 

In fact, it takes up to eight marketing touchpoints to turn a prospect into a paying customer. That interaction could be anything from a Google search ad to a marketing email and everything in between. 

That’s where linear attribution comes in: giving credit where it’s due for each interaction that leads to the conversion, rather than just focusing on the first or last touch. 

Increase your linear attribution numbers – the number of times you get in front of a prospect – and you improve your overall conversions. And, ultimately, you bolster your bottom line.

So, how do you increase those numbers? You bump up the number of touchpoints. What’s the most cost effective way to do so? Google Display. And how do you know it’s working? With linear attribution. 

Using Google Display can be an affordable, yet valuable tool in your overall demand generation strategy that increases the number of touchpoints, supports linear attribution and improves your return on ad spend.  

Why focus on linear attribution numbers?

First, a recap on reporting. Skip this part if you're an attribution pro already. 

Attribution models are a way to understand how your ads and other marketing efforts are performing by figuring out which parts are working. Essentially, it’s a strategy for assigning credit to specific touchpoints during the sales journey that led to a conversion.

Let’s say you’re selling a pair of shoes, for example. 

You’re running paid search ads to capture anyone browsing keywords related to your product on Google. You have social ads on Facebook and Instagram, some video ads on YouTube or over-the-top TV. Maybe a blog post about the latest footwear trends or an e-book about making those stilettos last a lifetime. You send an email to a prospect who filled out a form on your website. 

They click, select a pair of loafers and check out. 

How do you assign credit for that conversion? Was it the first ad the prospect saw? That last marketing email the qualified lead actually converted on? A mixture of both? Everything?

According to the linear attribution model, all of the above. Linear attribution assigns equal credit to every touchpoint the prospect came across that contributed to the final conversion. 

Not everyone agrees on this approach, of course. There are other attribution models you could use like first-touch attribution (assigning credit to the first touchpoint – the ad, in this example) or last-touch attribution (in this case, the email). 

But especially in today’s fragmented landscape, a multi-touch approach like linear attribution is important because it accounts for all the different platforms and types of interactions a prospective customer has before making a buying decision. 

How Google Display Fits into the Picture

So, you’re zeroed in on five to eight touchpoints. And you have the right attribution structure in place to track those successful individual interactions. 

Enter display advertising – that is, the online paid ads that bring together copy and a visual element with a call to action that leads back to your landing page. You may also know them as banner ads, one form of display advertising. 

Google Display is an important part of a linear attribution model because it's an extremely cost efficient way to get in front of prospects. It depends on the industry, but display ads typically cost around $20 per thousand impressions. So, roughly twenty cents an impression.

Compare that to the average cost-per-click for a search ad at $2.86. 

Instead, you make the most of your search ad investment with display retargeting that nurtures customers who interacted with that first, more expensive, more compelling ad. 

By the time the prospect receives that final persuasive email, they’ve already had half a dozen other touches from your brand. 

Display advertising is never going to be that first click or last click driver, but it can help support those first clicks and last clicks.

Attributing Conversions to Your Google Display Ads 

Part of the challenge with display ads, however, can be knowing that they are working. 

If you use a first-touch or last-touch attribution model, your display ads will look like deadweight. It’s common for few, if any, conversions to be tied to a specific Google Display ad. That’s not usually how people shop.

Instead of focusing on conversion numbers for display ads, look at the interaction rate between those display ads and the people who end up converting. 

If there's a high correlation between the people who are converting and those that interacted with the display ads, then you know it played a part.

Look at the interaction numbers between your conversions and your display ads, not just the overall conversions.

And that’s where linear attribution is helpful because it accounts for the various pieces that went into a final conversion, painting a more accurate picture of the display ads’ impact. 

Display ads are unlikely to be the driving force behind a first click or a last click. 

But you can use them to fill the gaps between that first and last touchpoint to get as close as possible to that ideal eight touches while improving your overall return on ad spend (ROAS).  

Boost Your ROAS, See Results

The most successful ad campaigns don’t just convert, they also offer the best returns on your investment. 

Our team of demand generation experts at Kuno Creative can support you every step of the way to get results that are effective and cost-conscious. We are ready to help you strategize and execute ad campaigns that attract, convert and improve your bottom line. 

Schedule a consultation with us today.

The Author

Shaun Kanary

With several years of marketing & sales experience for both the Cleveland Clinic and John Deere, Shaun brings a wealth of healthcare, consumer goods and industrial B2B marketing experience to Kuno Creative. Additionally, Shaun is a recognized authority in digital marketing and advertising as a respected college professor at Lorain County Community College, a professional speaker and columnist.