Facebook Attribution Modelling - Are You Tracking Results Correctly?
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Have you ever compared your ecommerce store to Facebook ad results, or used UTM tracking and discovered different results between what Facebook and Google report?

This is a huge issue for advertisers and small business owners, especially those who plan to scale their ad campaigns.

Understanding what you spend versus what you get is quite possibly the most important part of running any advertising campaign.

But if you don’t understand how Facebook measures ad conversions, you will make incorrect assumptions about ad performance, losing money and sales.

In this post, we explain Facebook attribution modelling, so you understand how Facebook tracks results. You’ll learn:

  • Why attribution is so important
  • How you might be incorrectly measuring your ads
  • A simple way to see exactly what drove results
  • A deep-dive into how different attribution methods change your results

What is Ad Attribution Modelling?

In online advertising, measurement is everything. Billions of dollars are invested in online ads because theoretically we can measure every action back to the source. This means we know how much each dollar spent generates more revenue.

We measure results (conversions, purchases, etc) through attribution. The term Attribution Window is used to determine the source of an ad conversion, and which ad gets credit.

This should be simple right? Unfortunately that’s not the case. Correctly attributing results is tricky, and is even more difficult if you use multiple ad platforms.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this.

I click on an ad, visit a website, but don’t purchase a product. 3 days later I click on a Google search ad, and purchase a product immediately.

Depending on your attribution setup, both platforms will measure the purchase as originating from their platform. But only one purchase was made!

Or maybe someone clicks on your ad, doesn’t purchase, but then clicks as email and makes a purchase. If you use Google Analytics, the email would be the purchase source. But Facebook would still count that as it’s conversion.

We’ll come back to fixing this later. For now, let’s look at how Facebook measures attributions.

How Does Facebook Attribution Modelling Work?

Other platforms use different attribution modelling to determine how to attribute results. Google for example has seven different models!

Facebook keeps things simple by using one model – The Last-Touch Attribution Model.

There are two things to remember about the Last-Touch Attribution Model:

  1. This model attributes the most recent interaction or ad view as what drove the conversion.
  2. Clicks always take predence over views

Facebook Attribution Windows

Facebook attribution is applied to actions, which also includes engagement with your brand or conversions on a website or app. It can also include any custom event you’ve setup on your website (Page View, Add to Cart, Purchase, etc).

If you haven’t setup conversions, stop what you’re doing and read our article on setting up your pixel.

There are two types of events that lead to a trackable action:

  1. Click or interactions with your ad – a person clicks on an ad and converts. This is called click-through attribution.
  2. Views your ad but doesn’t take an action – A person say your ad, didn’t click, but converted. This is called a view-through conversion.

Here are some important things to remember about Facebook attribution modelling:

  • Facebook attribution modelling windows is limited to a 28-day window. Any conversion outside of 28 days is not included.
  • Default attribution tracking is set to anyone who clicks an ad is tracked for 28 days, while anyone who views an ad is tracked for 24 hours. Anyone who completes your action in that window counts towards Facebook’s default tracking.
  • Clicks take precedence over views, even if the views happens after a click.
  • Conversions are attributed to the most recent ad clicked.

There are 6 different attribution windows to choose from:

After viewing

  • 1 day
  • 7 days
  • 28 days

After clicking:

  • 1 day
  • 7 days
  • 28 days

Our screenshot below shows you how different Facebook attribution modelling windows impact overall costs.

facebook attribution modelling example

Let’s use what you’ve learned by looking at two different scenarios. Can you figure out which window gets the credit?

Scenario #1

A user clicks on an ad, visits a website, and ads a product to their cart but doesn’t make a purchase. That same user sees an ad on Facebook 15 days later, doesn’t click and then visits the website and completes the purchase.

In this scenario, it doesn’t matter when someone viewed an ad as long as a click occurred within 28 days. The conversion would trigger for the ad that was clicked and would exist under the 28-day attribution window.

Scenario #2

A store owner tracks all purchases with their purchase pixel. A user sees a video ad fro product #1 and visits a website. 30 days later, ad #2 appears for product #2. They are reminded about that video product, visit the website that day and purchase product #1.

This one is a bit more tricky. Since no click has occured, Facebook uses views as the conversion event. While the video ad might be advertising product #1, and the user purchased product #1, 30 days is outside the view window, and Facebook tracks the most recent ad view. The purchase is attributable to ad #2 in a 1-day view attribution window.

How to Change Facebook Attribution Windows

By default, Facebook sets the attribution window to 28-days click and 1-day view. That means anyone who clicks on an ad, and purchases a product within 28 days will be counted as a conversion by Facebook.

There are many situations where you’ll want to change this attribution view. We’ll discuss these in part #2.

Depending on your advertising campaign, you should review attribution window results to determine how much credit Facebook is attributing to your conversions. There’s an easy way to see how results differ by conversion window.

First, go to Ads Manager and select customize columns.

facebook attribution modelling customize columns

Make sure you’ve included your conversion action.

Next select all 6 conversion windows and click Apply.

facebook attribution modelling timeframe

Now you can see how Facebook attribution modelling attributed each purchase event.

In part two of this post, we show you:

  • How to choose the right conversion window for your business or advertising goal
  • The problem with view-through conversions – and how to fix it
  • An example of how different attribution windows affect results
  • A secret way to lower costs using conversion attribution optimization

Click here to read Part 2 – Advanced Strategies to Measure Facebook Ads

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