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adwords cross device conversions for measuring roi in a multiscreen world

Estimated cross-device conversions have been available in Google AdWords for about a year and a half, but how many of us are actually paying attention to them or using them to influence your paid search optimizations and strategy in any way? Mobile has been the talk of the industry for a long time, and mobile ad spend still lags behind mobile search volume, but as of May this year, mobile search query volume has surpassed desktop.

I would venture to say that the lag in mobile ad spend is in large part due to the inability to measure cross-device conversions, particularly in cases where the conversion activity is difficult or even just more difficult to complete on a mobile device compared to a computer.

Google AdWords’ estimated cross-device conversions are important to consider and include in conversion metrics because of the insight they provide into additional value mobile traffic may be providing to your AdWords campaigns that you aren’t measuring today.

What Exactly Are Cross-Device Conversions?

Cross-device conversions are conversions completed after a customer uses more than one device or browser. Specifically on Google, they started a search on on one device and ended with a conversion on another.

67% of online shoppers start on one device and continue on another.


Customers use smartphones all along the path to purchase

A couple different scenarios for mobile’s role in the purchase journey

smartphone & cross-mobile-device usage in the path to purchase

customers research products on smartphones and purchase elsewhere - that's a cross-device multi-device conversion

In the scenario above, shouldn’t a mobile ad click in the research phase get credit for a conversion that happens on a desktop? Last click conversion tracking & attribution is just too simplistic for today’s reality. Marketers need a way to measure and attribute conversions in a multi-screen, multi-device world. AdWords’ cross-device conversions give you a way to measure and attribute conversions along the journey.

How Are Cross-Device Conversions Calculated?

AdWords uses anonymous data from customers who have signed in to their Google accounts and clicked and converted to estimate total cross-device conversions. There is a guide within the AdWords Help section that goes into a whole lot more detail than I will regurgitate here.

Where Do I Find Cross-Device Conversions in AdWords?

Estimated cross-device conversions and total estimated conversions (conversions + estimated cross-device conversions) are already available directly in your AdWords account. You can find them by adding the respective columns.

adwords estimated cross device conversions



columns adwords estimated cross device conversions

How You Can Use Cross-Device Conversions

Mostly, you can use this data to inform bidding. Not just for mobile either. A couple suggested scenarios are to calculate the percentage difference between cost/conversion and cost/estimated total conversions and increase bids computer bids by a commensurate percentage without sacrificing ROI.

Here’s another way Google suggests using this data to inform mobile bid adjusments:

Many advertisers look at the ratio between estimated total conversions coming from mobile versus computer and tablet to get a sense of the right bid adjustment. To get the most out of your mobile advertising, here’s a formula you can use to set your campaign-level mobile bid adjustment:

Mobile bid adjustment = 100 * [(value per mobile ad click/value per desktop and tablet click) -1 ]

What Kind of Impact Can You Expect?

This can vary by industry, conversion type and product/service, but here’s Google’s data for a few verticals.

measuring adwords conversions in a multi-screen world

Bottom line, we can’t ignore cross-device activity anymore, and AdWords is one of the first to report cross-device conversions in a meaningful way. Even if you don’t immediately change your bidding strategy, it is a good idea to analyze AdWords cross-device conversion data to get a better idea of how your customers are converting.

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Nora Park

About Nora Park

Nora Park is an Account Director at Add3. She has been doing paid search marketing for 8 years; the past 5 with Add3. Outside the office, Nora enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her husband and 2 year old son, Tyson.

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