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Don’t be too quick to turn off your Facebook ad-sets! Your eCommerce store could be leaving money on the table by not using the attribution window to its fullest. Let me explain…

Buyers purchasing behaviour online can complex and fragmented. If they click on ad and purchase in the same session, though that ad has certainly served a purpose, it’s likely that 10 ads prior all did the heavy-lifting and they deserve some credit.

To gain a more in-depth understanding of how your conversions are taking place, consider looking into Facebook’s longer attribution window, rather than judging success purely on Google Analytics last-touch attribution. This is an especially useful tool with products that cost more on average and may require more consideration for someone to convert.

If we look at a 1, 7 and 28-day attribution lift, for example, we know we can leave ad-sets below our target ROAS (return on advertising spend) running and be patient because by day 7, they’ll be profitable and by day 28 they’ll be very profitable.

What do I mean exactly by that?

Facebook’s default attribution window is ‘1 day from viewing your ad and within 28 days of clicking it’. This is the number of days between when someone either viewed or clicked your ad and then took a valuable action on your website – i.e. a purchase or a lead.

The image below shows revenue and return on ad spend rising over time, this is because people convert later on and we are looking at a wider time window.

How does all this work?

Someone could click your Facebook ad, visit the landing page but not convert at that moment. They may come back days later before making the purchase. While Facebook would say the conversion came as a result of your ad, Google would not report the conversion as coming from Facebook as it didn’t happen all in the same user journey.

There are a few key differences between Facebook attribution and Google Analytics conversion tracking that are important to know…

People-based tracking vs Cookie-based tracking

Facebook’s main advantage over Google Analytics is that it’s tracking measures people via their user IDs rather than cookies.  Facebook can recognise a person across multiple devices and browsers as the same person, otherwise known as ‘people-based tracking’. Google Analytics is unable to do this and will record the same person using different browsers and devices as different people – ‘cookie-based tracking’.

Tackling attribution.

Most marketers use what is known as ‘last-touch’ attribution in Google Analytics where the last channel in the buyer’s journey that the customer interacted with prior to purchasing will take full credit for the conversion.

Sometimes it’s better to take a view of Facebook’s wider attribution to see how your campaigns perform over time as we mentioned earlier.

Customers buying journeys on the internet can be very fragmented and complex. Do your research and understand how the most effective way to report is from your digital marketing activity. You may be selling yourself short!