When to use a short attribution window to optimize your ads

Choosing the right attribution window is a critical aspect of measuring the success of advertising campaigns. Lookback windows help marketers gain insights of how their marketing efforts are impacting conversions over time. Read this blog post to understand the importance of attribution windows and when to use shorter attribution windows for optimizing your ads.

What are attribution windows? 

In the space of digital advertising, an attribution window refers to a specific timeframe during which amarketing activity is credited  for a click or impression that led to an action, such as a conversion or sale.

In the example below, the lookback window of a first touch attribution model is set to 1 day, the length of time that a conversion event, is attributed to a particular marketing touchpoint that a user interacts with within a one-day window. All touchpoints that lie within the attribution window (of 1 day in this case) will be considered when crediting the conversion.

 lookback window of a first touch attribution model is set to 1 day
First Touch Attribution 1 - day

If a customer clicks on the Google ad and then makes a purchase within one day, the conversion would be attributed to the Google ad. However, if the user makes a purchase 30 days later, the conversion would not be attributed to the Google ad within the one-day window.
Similarly, in the example below, the timeframe of the attribution window is set to 30 days and, if a user interacts with a marketing touchpoint and converts within that timeframe,  the sale or lead will be attributed to that particular marketing touchpoint.

timeframe of the attribution window is set to 30 days
First Touch Attribution - 30 days


Why are attribution windows critical for advertisers? 

Attribution windows play a crucial role in helping advertisers, and ad networks understand the delayed effects of their advertising and, ultimately, optimize their ads for conversions. Often, there can be a delay between exposure to an advertisement and a user taking action, such as making a purchase. For instance, a customer might see an ad for a product on Facebook in the morning while commuting to work, forget about it during the day, and then decide to purchase it on the weekend a couple days later.

Without accounting for these potential gaps between ad exposure and  action, advertisers may mistakenly attribute organic actions to paid advertising, resulting in lost opportunities for optimizing ads and improving their performance. Setting an attribution window makes it possible to accurately include users who were technically brought in through an advertisement but didn't take direct action at that moment. This helps to ensure fair and accurate measurement of the impact of advertising campaigns and enables DTCs and e-commerce businesses to focus on winning advertising strategies.

To learn more about marketing attribution models, read our comprehensive blog post to understand the right attribution model for your campaigns. 

Which attribution window is the best? 

The best attribution window to use when checking your campaigns may depend on various factors, such as the type of campaign, the channel you're using, and the goal of your campaign. Generally, attribution windows between 7 and 30 days have been commonly used as technology was limited to these time frames. As technology advances and longer or even infinite attribution windows are available, advertisers often opt for longer windows depending on their goals and use-case.

For example, a 7-day attribution window may be sufficient for campaigns with short conversion cycles, while a 30-day window may be more suitable for campaigns with longer conversion cycles. Also, attribution windows can vary depending on the platform you're using, and some platforms may offer more or fewer options for customizing attribution windows.

Any DTC and e-commerce business  should carefully analyze the performance of their campaigns and make informed decisions about which attribution window to use. Analyzing the outputs of your attribution models for  different attribution windows can help determine the best window for each use-case.

Benefits of using a very short attribution window 

A short attribution window such a one or two days, can make sense when the conversion cycle is short or immediate, and you want to evaluate the impact of your campaigns in a relatively short timeframe.  

When to use short attribution windows - use cases


Consider using a shorter attribution window to analyze the performance of display ads with the goal of retargeting users who have previously interacted with a website or product. The rationale behind this use case is that the effectiveness of a banner ad in driving a conversion tends to diminish over time. Therefore, extending the attribution window beyond a certain point may lead to overestimating the impact of the display ad in driving the conversion. Thus, advertising DTCs can more accurately assess the true impact of their ad campaigns on user behavior and make more informed decisions regarding their advertising strategies.

Short sales cycles

A short attribution window is your best bet if you're running a limited-time offer or flash sale in a short sales cycle. In such a case, a one-day attribution window could be appropriate as it enables you to track the performance of your campaigns during that period only. This helps get compelling learnings of your sales campaigns and helps you include these in your ads strategy, boosting conversions. 

Low priced products 

If you're running campaigns that promote low priced products or target audiences who tend to make quick decisions, such as impulse purchases, a short attribution window could prove useful as it allows you to capture those conversions before they expire. This enables you to test various pricing strategies and audiences and find the winning pricing models and products to boost via ad campaigns.

Creative testing

If you're testing different ad variations, a short attribution window can help you to quickly determine which ad performed the best and make any necessary adjustments to your campaign. The fast results can draw a line between wasted ad budgets and winning strategies to optimize ad performance.

Traffic source testing 

When evaluating  new traffic sources or ad networks, DTCs may want to test its performance over a shorter time period, such as 24 hours, to understand its effectiveness in driving immediate conversions. This can help make informed decisions on whether to allocate more resources to the ad network or discontinue it altogether. That being said it certainly also makes sense to consider longer attribution windows when testing new traffic sources.

When not to use short attribution windows

A short attribution window may not capture the full impact of your campaigns, especially for channels where conversion cycles and customer journeys tend to be longer. In such cases, using a longer attribution window may provide a more accurate representation of the performance of your campaigns over time. Ultimately, the length of the attribution window you use should be based on your specific campaign objectives and the behavior of your target audience. 

How to use Admetrics to change the attribution window

Available in the Admetrics Data Studio, the configurable attribution windows, used alongside the desired attribution model, allow marketers to gain complete control over how their conversion data is attributed and can pick the exact right model and window for their use-case. Admetrics Data Studio provides infinite attribution windows and the ability to switch to shorter attribution windows depending on your marketing objective. 

Attribution Windows in Admetrics Data Studio.

Admetrics offers the following attribution windows: 

1 day: Perfect for immediate impact analysis, such as analysis of flash sale or email campaigns, creative testing and social media posts.

7 days: Great for evaluating the effectiveness of paid search campaigns and social media ads.

14 days: Useful for tracking the impact of content marketing, such as blog posts and videos.

30 days: Good for evaluating the success of medium priced products.

Max: Infinite attribution window length helps getting a complete picture of your marketing efforts and customer journeys, including long-term impact. Also, especially useful when selling high-priced products. 

The configurable attribution windows feature complements the already very powerful marketing analytics solution, Admetrics. The analytics platform unifies all paid and organic traffic sources, delivering unique AI-based insights to enhance ad performance, and helps DTC businesses gain complete visibility into their customers' journeys. 

Admetrics is a 100% GDPR and CCPA-compliant solution offering an S2S integration that passes data back to the ad networks  to improve their efficiency in finding new customers. 

With over 100 metrics available on its comprehensive dashboard, Admetrics allows users to test creatives, audiences, and campaigns across channels and understand critical metrics like ROAS, POAS, CAC, and more. 

Start your 14-day free trial and discover unique features that help you optimize ad performance and supercharge growth. Install Admetrics today.