Understanding attribution

To understand attribution is to understand your business. It's a vital instrument for being able to execute marketing strategies in the most optimal way. 

No matter if you're a beginner at attribution, or advanced. This article will give you our thoughts on how to use attribution in the most optimal way.

How to use attribution

Attribution should be used to understand the journey of your customers, along with evaluating the performance of various campaigns. Since we're primarily working with Facebook Ads, this is what we're focusing on in this article.

The standard attribution model in Facebook Ads is 28 days post-click and 1 day post-view. This means that conversions made in your website or app, after a user has clicked or viewed your ad - will be reported in the data of your specific campaign, ad set and ad.

  What kind of business do you have?

What kind of business do you have?

Depending on what kind of business, market penetration and customer journey you have - it's up to you to choose an attribution window that's suitable for you. It's also a good idea to separate the attribution window for prospecting from the attribution window for retargeting - since they often reflect different kind of journeys before the conversion.

A highly common mistake is that performance is evaluated before the attribution window is ended. 

Example: Evaluating performance for an E-commerce

Let's say you're running a prospecting campaign with the attribution window: 7 day post-click. You won't be able to correctly evaluate a time period with this attribution window before 8 days after the last date in the time period.

If you're eager to quickly understand the performance of your prospecting campaign before the ending of the attribution window of 7 days - you could use the 1 day post-click attribution window. This enables you to be able to look at the data 2 days after the last day of the time period.


Adapt your analysis

Learn your customer behavior by looking at various attribution windows to see the development in number of conversions over time.

By doing this, you can allow yourself to analyze performance already two days later - even if your standard attribution window is 28 days post-click.


Google Analytics & Facebook Ads - what's the difference?

Another common mistake is taking a 3rd party service as the "truth". Google Analytics is the most used online marketing analytics system, even though it's far from the truth. The data in 3rd party services like Google Analytics should therefore be used as theoretical guidelines used in a bigger picture with data from other sources as well. (More info here).

Briefly, the reason to a discrepancy in the numbers between Google Analytics and Facebook Ads are:

  • Facebook are using people-based measurement, instead of cookie-based. 

  • Google Analytics under-reports cross-device conversions, due to their cookie-based tracking.

  • Google Analytics can't see post-view data from Facebook.

  • Facebook reports conversions based on time of impressions - and not the time of conversion (which Google Analytics does). 

  • The attribution models in Facebook Ads and Google Analytics might be different, depending on your settings.

  • If you're using UTM-links, this information disappears if the tab is closed between the click and the conversion. This conversion is instead categorized as "Direct" in Google Analytics.

  • Google Analytics often uses sampled data. (More info)

  • The conversions can be categorized as "Direct" in Google Analytics if the user is going between different protocols (HTTP & HTTPS). According to researches, this might result in an under-report in up to 40%.