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What Is Delayed Attribution?

Perhaps Yoda said it best: “Patience, you must have.”

Sure, he was referring to Jedi training and not paid ad campaigns, but hear us out.

This blog is for anyone who has ever taken a look at their Google Ads campaign numbers and thought, “Hey, last week looked good. Why not this week? Why is my ROAS down?”

The answer, young Padawan, often has to do with delayed attribution, and Solutions 8 Senior Client Strategist John Moran breaks it down for us in this helpful video.

what is delayed attribution in Google Ads

What is delayed attribution?

Delayed attribution is the time between when a customer interacts with your ad (called an impression) and when the conversion value of that impression is counted or reported. 

Put simply, there is a delay between the time you give Google your money, when people start seeing your ads and buying, and when the true value of those conversions start to appear in your reporting. 

This applies to both eCommerce and lead generation campaigns, and it will vary based on the different sales cycles of your individual campaigns. 

So, if you sometimes look at your conversion values and wonder why they’re not on par with (or higher than) the previous week or month, keep in mind that the discrepancy is likely due to delayed attribution. 

Rest assured, if you give it a week or two, those numbers should be where you want them.

You see, each campaign has a certain functionality, which means some sales cycles are shorter (e.g., dynamic search campaigns), and some are longer (e.g., smart shopping campaigns), and you have to take this into account when looking at campaign performance.

delayed attribution google ads dashboard screenshot

“Each time we would review performance, we would notice it was only halfway as good as the previous week,” John noted.

After a little sleuthing, he discovered the delay.

Typically, it takes a full seven days for all conversions to be counted. However, it could take longer—in some cases up to a full month—to get an accurate picture of sales/conversions for a specific window of time.

So, if you look at the numbers and think your campaign is taking a nosedive, just wait. Things should look more promising once all the data is collected and accounted for.

 

Of note, Google recently started highlighting this delay on the Google Ads platform.

If you hover over a specific conversion value, you should see a small pop-up box with a message that says something like, “It takes up to XX days after an impression for most of your conversion value to be reported.”

Google Ads Delayed attribution 9 days example

Think of it as Google saying, “Hey, not to worry. We’re not done yet.”

So, what does all this mean for your campaign?

Since you can’t make data-driven decisions unless you have all the data, we recommend giving it about 2-3 weeks (minimum) before you think about tweaking anything.

For example, if you want to review campaign performance for all of March, you really shouldn’t look on the 31st of that month because you won’t be getting the whole picture.

It’s best to wait until about mid-April for a true account of the previous month.

The takeaway? Like Yoda says, be patient.

delayed attribution yoda

When looking at the numbers on your Google Ads dashboard, avoid tunnel vision, and focus on the big picture.

Continue tracking all of your conversions, and also consider using time decay attribution and running your attribution models through Google Analytics often. Pay attention to outside influences and how they affect sales cycles, as this may extend reporting delays.

Soon, you’ll get a feel for how long the sales cycle is for each campaign, which will help you predict when you can expect to see true performance numbers.

Need a hand? Solutions 8 has your back.

If you own physical stores, running Local campaigns in Google Ads is key for increasing foot traffic. It will market your ads to local people who are already interested in what you have to offer—and make it easier for them to find you.

Plus, if you work with a Google Ads agency like Solutions 8, we can help you get approved to track in-store visits.

You can find more Google ads tips and guidance on our Google Ads YouTube channel. We also invite you to contact Solutions 8 for a free Google Ads action plan. Contact us or call us as (480) 908-8609. Talk to you soon!

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Author

Pamela is the Senior Content Writer at Solutions 8. When she's not writing, you can find her hiking in the woods with her dogs. She is currently on a quest to visit every national park in the United States.

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