3 View-through Conversion Attribution Problems

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

View-through conversions are conversions where a customer saw—but didn’t click— a display ad on the display network before completing a conversion. – source

Agencies and account managers want to report this, or a portion of these to their clients and bosses, but unfortunately the problem of how to give credit to these conversions always arises. Basically it revolves around, “how much are these really worth?” And, “did seeing that display ad really lead to a search and then a conversion? Or was it serendipitous?”


Problem 1: Aren’t they just duplicates of the other conversions in the interface?

Yes. Unless you de-dupe them by going to Tools and Analysis => Conversions => conversion(s) name => Advanced (tab) and Enable “View-through conversion search de-duplication


View Through Conversion Attribution


Selecting this option allows you to see those conversions that happened after someone say an ad on the display network, but did not click it. Then later converted through a direct visit, organic visit, or other means. This more accurately tells you how many extra conversions your AdWords campaigns are participating in other than the click-through conversions you are getting attributed to your account in the interface.


Problem 2: Did the ad on the Google Display Network (GDN) really aid in the conversion?

There’s no way to know? In some cases there probably is not. But in many cases you will likely see an increase in overall conversions (through all online channels) if you are seeing a large volume of de-duped view-through conversions.

Many solutions can be created to judge the real value/impact of the GDN ads, but one simple way is just to measure pre-GDN total conversions and post-GDN conversions. Of course, if you done other major new marketing initiatives this will skew it. So you will want to coordinate a 2-3 week test window where you attempt to leave everything else the same.

Scientific? Not hardly, but it will tip the scales in a direction to see if it’s worth doing a more structure test/measurement.

Two additional, still not scientific, ways to measure the impact is to watch conversion rates and branded impressions.

If you launch the GDN, start getting VTC’s and your conversion rates go up on other campaigns, then you can assume that the branding has assisted you be more effective with your existing campaigns.

When launch a display campaign and see that branded impressions go up, then there is a good chance that the new ads are leading to more searches on branded terms and thus you are driving view-through conversions for branded terms.


Problem 3: Even if I believe you that these are valuable, how should I weight them?

If you have de-duped your VTCs then I’d say count them 1 for 1. Of course, you and/or your client are not going to. And I get it. If it only led to a conversion down the road you’ll be double counting that conversion somewhere. So another general rule is to simply decide how much an assisted conversion is worth to you and be consistent.

Even if it’s just 10%, that’s still admitting that these conversions are worth something, because they are. For many GDN campaigns I manage, counting 10% of VTC could mean the difference between being at goal, and absolute rock star performance.


Okay, for those of you who attempt to influence decisions makers on the value of PPC/View-through conversions, what are your thoughts? How do you attribute VTCs?