Performance Marketing Expert

Bing Ads vs. AdWords: Conversion Attribution

Recently, we shared how Microsoft’s Bing Ads and Google’s AdWords differ in how they assign quality scores. Now, we’ll cover another area in which Bing and AdWords differ: conversion tracking. In paid search, conversion tracking is perhaps one of the most important metrics for understanding your account’s performance. This is especially true when you see reports that may not make sense at first glance.

For instance, in the below screenshot, you’ll notice a Bing report for a keyword that generated no clicks or spend during the selected time period, but still received a conversion for $1,712.53 in revenue. If you’re primarily familiar with AdWords, this could look off to you. However, Bing takes a unique approach to conversion attribution.

We'll dive into the fundamental differences between the two search engines’ approaches, but first, let’s take a moment to understand what the term “conversion attribution” means.

If someone visits your site through a paid search ad, they may not convert on that same day. However, when they do convert, it is important that the conversion can be attributed back to the paid search ad. For this reason, Rise has a 30-day cookie window as a best practice across paid search (and many other digital marketing channels). This enables us to recognize customers who have visited as a result of a paid search ad and provides insight into the rest of their purchasing journeys, even if their actual conversions take place days or weeks later.

This time delay between an initial click and an eventual conversion is called conversion latency. To measure the impact of your ads and account for conversion latency, an attribution model is needed to determine which click and which day is responsible for the conversion.

How Conversion Attribution Models Vary in Bing and AdWords


Both Bing and AdWords attribute conversions to the last click. However, those attributions vastly vary with regard to their assigned dates. Bing attributes a conversion to the date of the actual transaction and Google attributes a conversion to the date of the last click.

Now the image above makes a bit more sense -- even though no one clicked on the ad during the time period shown, a person who clicked on the ad days ago may have come back to make a purchase, causing the revenue to be reported at $1,712.53.

AdWord’s Attribution Model


Within Google AdWords, the conversion is attributed to the date of the last click. For example, if a user clicks on Day 1 and converts on Day 10, you will see the conversion value and revenue attributed to Day 1.

This allows for PPC specialists to understand when the last touch point was in their campaigns; however, it can make performance look lower in AdWords compared to Bing, as conversions and revenue are being attributed retroactively.

Bing’s Attribution Model


Bing treats conversions as actions that are attributed on the days they happen. For example, if a user clicks on Day 1 and converts on Day 10, you will see the conversion value and revenue attributed to Day 10.

This attribution model gives PPC specialists an accurate idea of how much revenue was actually generated on any given day; however, it also bolsters revenue and conversions generated in the short term.

Overall, it’s important to understand that conversions in Bing and AdWords should not be compared as apples to apples. A larger time window for analyzing differences between performance in Bing and AdWords will shrink the impact of the differences in metrics and allow for a more accurate understanding of your account’s overall performance.

To learn more about conversion attribution or best practices within Bing and AdWords, reach out to Rise.

Since this blog was posted, Bing Ads (now Microsoft Ads) has changed their conversion attribution model from the time of conversion to the time of click, which aligns with how Google Ads attributes conversions within their platform. This change was effective on October 18, 2018.

06/08/2016 at 04:40