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When a person has seen your advert on Facebook or Instagram there are a variety of actions they can take such as watching your ad, visiting your website or purchasing a product. It’s important for you to know which actions these people are taking and to know whether or not you are hitting your KPIs.

Facebook attribution is a commonly misunderstood tool for many businesses, and many people don’t really understand what the figures they are looking at actually mean. We recognise that this is a confusing topic for many of you, so we have put together this useful blog to explain exactly how Facebook attribution works.

First things first

Before you do anything, you need to set up a Facebook Pixel (a piece of code) and add it to your website pages. You also need to set up your event tracking so that Facebook knows when a conversion happens. If you don’t know how to do this yet one of our previous blogs tells you exactly how you can set up your Pixel to start tracking.

Once you’ve taken these steps you should verify that your pixels are working. After a few hours of setting up the tracking check that the number of Facebook pixel fires matches what has been recorded in your conversion tracking. It’s important that you make this data check on the current day and not for previous days. To check the number of Facebook pixel fires, open Ads Manager and go to Assets> Pixels.

At this point, nothing has been attributed so you need to ensure that Pixel data and the custom conversion data is matching. If it isn’t, your Pixel probably isn’t tracking correctly. If you do have issues, use the Pixel Helper tool and run through the different actions that can be taken on your site. The Pixel Helper should let you know of any pixels that aren’t firing correctly.


Understanding attribution windows

Without understanding attribution windows you will not be able to understand Facebook conversion attribution.

An attribution window is the number of days between when someone viewed or clicked your ad and then took action on your website. Facebook reports on both views and clicks taken on your website within an attribution window. Facebook will not take credit for conversions that occur outside of an attribution window.

Facebook’s default attribution window settings are actions taken within 1 day of viewing an ad and within 28 days of clicking your ad. You can change the setting for both to either 1, 7 or 28 days – here’s how.

If you’re thinking about changing your attribution window it’s important to think about what type of business you have. For example, app purchases are likely to be made immediately after being served an ad, so a shorter attribution window could be used. However, e-commerce stores may see a greater amount of people purchasing a day or several days after being served an ad because people like to shop around. Remember, Facebook won’t take credit for conversions that take place outside of the attribution window.

Understanding your attribution figures

The key to understanding your conversion figures (or any other figures you are reporting on depending on your objective) is that figures are counted on the day the ad view/click happened NOT the day the conversion happened.

It is easy for advertisers to assume that the figures are of people who converted immediately after clicking the ad. But, Facebook can tell who clicked or viewed an ad, as well as who has fired a pixel on a conversion page on your website and will attribute a conversion to the date of the ad impression (as long as it’s within the attribution window).

For example, if a person clicks on one of your Facebook ads on the 30th May and then makes a purchase on the 10th June this conversion will be attributed to the 30th May. Whilst the majority of purchases will be made immediately post-click it is not uncommon for reporting discrepancies to arise due to purchases being made days later.

This is why you will also find that your previous months results data may change as the attribution window is coming to an end.

There are a few things to be clear on with this attribution model to really understand where the report figures come from:

  • Conversions have to be within your window – when setting your attribution window be aware that conversions will only be attributed to Facebook if they happened within this time frame.
  • Clicks get credit over views – conversions and currency are never attributed to multiple dates. If a person has viewed an ad and clicked an ad the conversion will always be attributed to the click, even if the view was after the click. Conversions are only attributed to views if a click has not been made.
  • Multiple actions count as a click – engagement clicks count as clicks too, its not just clicking links to your website. For example, if someone likes, comments or shares your ad then this counts as a click and the conversion will be attributed to this date.

There are several things to consider here to make sure you understand Facebook’s attribution model. The key to knowing what your figures mean is to have everything set up correctly. Without knowing which settings you have in place you will not be able to understand your attribution data. Once everything is set up take care to familiarise your self with the final three points in the article and to always remember that figures are counted on the day the ad view/click happened NOT the day the conversion happened.

We hope you found this useful.

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