What Is Delayed Attribution? And How Does it Impact Your Reporting in Google Ads?

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?

Put simply, there is a delay between the time you give Google your money, and when people start seeing your ads and buying.

This applies to both eCommerce and lead generation campaigns, and it’s why you will sometimes look at your conversion values and wonder why they’re not on par with (or higher than) the previous week or month.

Basically, there’s a reason why it sometimes feels like Google Ads isn’t reporting as accurately as it should.

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.

“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.”

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.


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.

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