AdWords conversion tracking – you probably didn’t know this

Posted by Aaron WeinerGoogle Ads

When Google AdWords updated their interface, you probably noticed their new conversion tracking metrics: The 1-per-click and many-per-click columns.

I wrote about these new metrics some time ago, but do you know what happens with these values when you use multiple conversion actions? At the time of writing this, Google did not have any information on this topic within their help section. And when I called their support and asked them for information on this topic, I actually received conflicting information from different people, probably because the subject is so new and unknown.

Based on phone calls, emails and analysis of the data across numerous client accounts, here is my explanation of how it all works:

First, let’s take a look at what a conversion action is. If, for example, you sell software, offer a download and want to track how many AdWords clicks resulted in a download, you would need to set up conversion tracking code which you would designate as a download. I wrote a brief explanation of how to do this in our Competitive Edge newsletter.

And if you also wanted to track sales, Google allow you to set up a separate conversion tracking code for each type of conversion, called “Actions”.

Assuming that you now have your two conversion tracking actions set up, let’s look at the data and clarify what we’re seeing.

AdWords Conversion Tracking Screenshot

Within this screenshot, you can see that 200 people downloaded the software, and out of those 200, ten of them downloaded again.

But what about the purchase conversion action? The information here suggests that out of the 200 people who downloaded, 59 went on to purchase.

Keep in mind that the Google cookie is not unique to an action but to an account. This means that once an AdWords visitor hits your first conversion tracking code it will be counted as 1 (1-per-click) and 1 (many-per-click). Each subsequent visit, regardless of the conversion action, will be considered another many-per-click. This means that 200 people downloaded the software, but out of those 200, either one person downloaded ten additional times or ten people downloaded one additional time and so on.

Confusing, right? We did not even begin to talk about the 59 purchases. Were they 59 individual purchases or were they all based on one single person who purchased 59 times? You just don’t know with this data. It’s another classic example of Google giving you a lot of information, but not all of it.

Oh the joys of AdWords.