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How Facebook Attribution (actually) Works

In this post, we’re going to be talking about Facebook attribution and how it works.

We’re also going to answer two of the most popular questions that we get.

  1. Why aren’t my analytics lining up?
  2. How can I tell if Facebook is really responsible for that sale?

The most common question that we get from every single client that has walked through our door is, “Why aren’t my Facebook analytics lining up with my Google Analytics?” “It’s driving me crazy. I think Facebook’s lying. Maybe Google’s lying. I don’t know who’s lying but somebody is!”

We’re here to tell you nobody’s lying.

It’s just that Facebook has a completely different way to attribute sales than Google does. We’re going to break it down and try and make it as easy as possible.

How Facebook Attribution Works

Here’s how attribution works on Facebook. It happens one of two ways.

  • The first is if somebody clicks on your ad and converts within 28 days.
  • The second one is if somebody sees your ad and that means just scrolling through the newsfeed and converts within 24 hours.

Facebook’s not exclusive. If you see an ad on another platform within that 28-day time period or that 24-hour time period, they’re still going to count that as a win.

How Google Analytics Attribution Works

On the other hand, Google Analytics is extremely, extremely exclusive to the point of being almost clicky.

Google Analytics is only going to attribute a sale to the last platform that was interacted with before the sale occurred, so let’s take this as an example.

You are on Facebook. You see a great ad for a hat company. You’re think, “I need a hat. It’s getting sunny out.” You click on the ad but then you decide, “I don’t really know if I need the hat.” But three days later, you realize, “I need that hat,” so you type the hat company into Google and you go straight to the website and you purchase.

Now, Google Analytics is going to say that that was an organic search and that’s where that sale came from.

However, Facebook says, “Hey, three days ago, you clicked on that ad. It’s within that 28-day window,” so Facebook is also going to count that as a sale.

Can you see how this can get completely confusing as you have more sales and more sales and more sales?

How Facebook Attributes a Sale if Multiple Ads Clicked/Viewed

Let’s go back to Facebook really quickly. If you’re anything like any of our other clients, their second biggest question is, “well how do I know which ad was the one that I can attribute the sale to?”

When you have multiple campaigns going and multiple ad sets and audiences and creatives, you think, “Well, what if somebody clicked on a million different ads in the 28-day time period, is Facebook triple counting, quadruple counting, racking up the numbers to make it look better?” They’re not.

It’s super simple, and here’s how Facebook breaks it down.

  • Whichever ad was the last clicked in that 28-day time period, that’s the ad that is counted for the sale.
  • Now, if no ads were clicked and were in that 24-hour time period where it was just seen in the newsfeed, whichever ad was last seen, that is the ad that is going to count for the sale.

Still Confused?

After reading this, if you’re thinking, “I don’t care. Help me. I don’t want to learn attribution,” that’s totally fine. We would love to help you figure it out. Go here to get in-touch with us!