One of my biggest complaints about Google AdWords and Google Analytics has always been the oversimplified attribution models they use. Last touch attribution sucks. It completely ignores upper funnel search visits to your site—first-time visitors who use broader search terms to get there. These are people who are curious about your products or offers, but not quite ready to buy.

Thankfully, Google is not oblivious to the need for more in-depth attribution funnel analysis. This past spring, they introduced AdWords Search Funnels, which finally gave AdWords advertisers the ability to drill down and see the search paths that visitors use when clicking through to their sites.

And last week, Google added additional features to these reports, including an increase in the conversion history window and a way to sanitize conversions that were potentially affected by cookie deletion bias.

Are you using the AdWords Search Funnels yet? If not, read on to find out why you should.

With Search Funnels, we can now get data on first touch attribution from AdWords. You can segment by first clicked campaign, ad group, or keyword in the First Click Analysis report to see these upper funnel newbie visits to your site.

I’m a big fan of the Assist Clicks and Impressions report. It helps me see how certain campaigns are getting visitors to our clients’ sites (or, in the case of an impression, how they’re generating brand awareness) and converting them at a later date through another campaign.

Let’s say you notice that one of your ad groups hasn’t been converting as well as you’d like. You do some cost/profit analysis, based entirely on last click attribution, and determine that it’s hemorrhaging money. Makes sense to cut it off. Stop spending money if you’re not making money. Business 101, right?

Would you think twice about cutting spend, however, if you found out that this ad group had assisted other campaigns and ad groups with a huge number of conversions? Maybe you still cut the spend, but now you monitor the effects it has on other campaigns just to be sure.

For anyone who wants to really dig deep, there’s the Top Paths report. At first glance, I was pretty disappointed with this one. It defaults on a view that shows you when a segment assists itself:


Apparently there’s a lot of self-assisting going on in AdWords. While this data might prove useful for some, I wanted to see how different campaigns or ad groups or keywords helped each other out. To get this information, just change the dimension to one of the Transition Path reports, and you’ll see only the paths that include different entries:


The Search Funnels report can be found by clicking the Reporting tab, accessing the Conversions area, and then clicking on the Search Funnels option on the left side of the screen.

Take a look and be sure to consider the entire funnel—lower and upper—when making decisions about your online marketing. And leave a comment if you’ve had success in using the AdWords Search Funnels reports.