During our last blog series we discussed using the ad scheduling feature within Google AdWords to save time and money when managing a PPC campaign. That article sparked a few questions in regards to when a conversion is attributed within AdWords.

In the previous post, we provided tactics for using the ad scheduling feature to automatically just your keyword bids, or completely pause your ads at certain times of the day or days of the week. If you have the data to prove that your campaign performs best at certain times of the day, this tool can be invaluable! Knowing all of this, how and when does Google AdWords attribute conversions to your account?

When a user clicks on a Google ad, a tracking cookie is placed on their computer. This cookie is active for 30 days. This way, if the user clicks on your ad and comes back a week later, the conversion is still attributed to your campaign and your specific keyword.

However, keep in mind that this latent AdWords-generated conversion is attributed to your account when the initial click occurred, not when the conversion action takes place. This means that if someone clicks on your ad on April 1 and they return to your site to convert on April 24, this conversion will appear  within your reports on April 1.

I thought I’d dig a little deeper to see how and when other tracking sources attribute conversions to their accounts and reporting.

If you have goal funnels set up in Google Analytics (and you should), these conversion are attributed to your account on the day the action takes place.

Conversion reporting for Yahoo Search Marketing also utilizes a tracking cookie. This cookie is active for 45 days. Conversions are attributed within the Yahoo interface on the day the action takes place.

The tracking cookie for MSN adCenter lasts only 7 days. MSN works similar to Yahoo in the sense that they attribute conversions on the day the conversion action takes place.

As you can see, Google AdWords is the odd-ball out here. The rest of the PPC conversion tracking tools work similarly by tracking conversions on the day of the actual transaction. When creating your reports, you should keep all of this in mind. Within AdWords, a previous month’s performance may be better than you think, at least until that cookie expires.