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What You Need to Know about Facebook Attribution

What You Need to Know about Facebook Attribution

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

If you’ve ever chased the serotonin that comes from putting items in a virtual shopping cart just to abandon them later, you might have experienced something along these lines: the products you almost splurged on always cropped up in ads while you were doomscrolling. Then payday finally hit and your self-control dissolved - boom! You bought that perfect leather jacket thanks to self-care and some successful remarketing tools.

For e-commerce companies, you’re the one behind that adrenaline-pumping chase of moving a prospect from just-an-ad-viewer to a full-blown paying customer. So, if you are a data-driven company and you want to assess the performance of your digital channels in this way, specifically on Facebook, listen up – because we’ve got the 101.

What is Facebook Attribution?

Let’s begin with marketing attribution. This spells out the effectiveness of your

online advertising by analyzing the data of views, clicks, and actions. Or, as Forbes puts it, marketing attribution “tries to understand the multiple steps that potential customers take before purchasing.”

Marketing attribution can help answer a multitude of questions, including: Which messages work best? Which step in the user journey got the most clicks? Which channels are the customers coming to our websites from? And much more.

Facebook Attribution Content

Facebook attribution, specifically, works for that exact same purpose as described above. But when it comes to Facebook, you need to look at little pieces of JavaScript code called pixels.

The Magic of Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel – now called Meta Pixel, which we will call it for the rest of this post – is the primary tool to track and analyze users’ interactions with ads on Facebook.

Facebook Attribution Content

Prior to Apple’s iOS 14 update in 2021 (more on that in a bit), Facebook Pixel could easily capture how audiences interacted with an e-commerce website via embedded code.

Users’ interactions could range from page views to newsletter sign-ups and product purchases, depending on the customized settings set by your business or advertising department. In short, you can use the Facebook Pixel code to track events on:

  • Pageviews
  • Scroll depth
  • Add to cart
  • Purchase
  • Time on page
  • And more
Facebook Attribution Content

Facebook Pixel could also evaluate user behavior over time to better inform what types of ads would be most successful.

This means “you can reach out to them again, utilizing the best engagement strategies. Meta will naturally improve its targeting of ads to users who are more inclined to act. This is known as conversion optimization,” says Pepper Content.

When Facebook changed its attribution tools in January 2021 in preparation for Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy requirements, Facebook did lose access to some crucial context and data patterns for advertisers that are trying to reach audiences on Apple devices. Simply put, this policy requires all mobile marketers to request consent from users before they can track them across apps and websites which can hinder data and results.

What’s changed for Facebook Attribution?

Facebook Pixel before 2021

  • Attribution window: For example, if a user clicked on an ad and followed through with an action (be it a purchase or entering their email, depending on the criteria set) within 28 days of clicking the ad or 1 day of viewing it, that would be considered a conversion and Facebook Pixel would note the ad that inspired the sale. This was mostly intended for data reporting.
  • Conversion window: The advertiser could choose what audience they’d like to build their campaign off of, based on how quickly their ideal customer took an action on their e-commerce website. This window gave the business more power over how their ad campaign targeted users.

Meta Pixel in 2022

  • Attribution Settings: These settings combine the two windows mentioned above into one hard setting that informs both the reports you want to generate and how Facebook’s marketing algorithm improves your campaign. This combined setting can get a bit muddled as the iOS 14 change has made it difficult to track data on Apple devices, so the ad campaigns follow estimated models rather than reported data.

Resurrect your ads from iOS 14.5! For Pre-iOS level Tracking, try Pixel by Triple Whale. Inject every campaign, ad set and ad with first party data.

Which Meta Attribution settings should you use?

Due to this shift, it’s recommended to use Facebook’s Conversion API in tandem with Meta Pixel. You can see a more accurate representation of how many conversions your ads generate rather than relying on estimations and models.

If you’ve taken a look around Facebook’s Attribution Settings, you know there’s a lot of customization available. Settling on which setting to use will rely on your end goal and your customers’ unique experiences. Trust your instincts when choosing an attribution window that matches your product or service, its price point, and how long it usually takes for someone to purchase your items.

  • Use the 7-day click and 1-day view attribution window for items that might require a few days to decide, like higher end clothing or luxury products
  • Use the 1-day click attribution window for impulse buys
  • Use the 7-day click attribution window. If you’re a wholesaler that works with other businesses that require supervisor approval before purchase.
  • Use the 1-day click or 1-day view attribution window for sales. Per Portent’s Jessica Clark, “Facebook will learn and optimize from conversions that happened within a day of your ad being viewed or clicked.”

Why use Meta Pixel?

No one’s been shy about pointing out the constraints Meta Pixel has to work with in 2022. If you know how to make the features available work best for your business, there’s still value to be found and benefited from.

Tracking conversions across multiple devices

You already know Meta Pixel is capable of breaking down how users interact with websites after clicking on an ad, but it’s also tracking customers across all their forms of technology. Ever looked up something on your laptop just to see it again on your phone later the same day? Freaky, but effective. If you see a pattern of customers picking up their laptop to make a purchase after clicking on your mobile ad, you might rethink your strategy.

Facebook Attribution Content

Customization translates to improved ROI

The level of detail available to you via Meta Pixel will pay off eventually. For instance, instead of tracking standard actions, like “add to cart” and “purchase”, you have the option to use custom events that you define yourself.  How far does the average user scroll down in your online shop? How many times do they click during a visit? Do they watch that whole video on your homepage or do they immediately stop it? All of these smaller moments can help you tailor your online shop so it’s not just about the data, but the user experience.

Facebook Attribution Content

There’s also the ability to create custom conversions. If someone signs up for a mailing list and you’d like to thank them with a promo code, you can track how many times users generate that custom conversion rather than just sign-ups to your newsletter. It’s a unique two-step action that may be worth separating from the reports later.

Note: After the iOS 14 update, you can only have eight of these custom events and conversions, so choose wisely!

Build lookalike audiences

After using Meta Pixel for a while, you can create lookalike audiences with all the data it collects from the users that visit and engage with your site the most. For example, maybe an online shop is extremely popular among women in the US aged 25-32 who like cats. Facebook could apply those traits to a lookalike audience in Canada. It’s a powerful and quick tool that’s just asking to be tapped.

Get Better Facebook Attribution with Triple Whale

In short, the Facebook Pixel:

  • Is code that lives on your website
  • Tracks how visitors interact with your e-commerce site
  • Gives you the ability to build custom audiences for retargeting
  • Helps you track the ROI of your Facebook campaigns/ads

If you’re ready to try Meta Pixel, check out Sprout Social’s guide to setting it up. Getting started is easy, so it’s a great place to begin your marketing attribution journey.

However, with raising CPMs and iOS14.5 impeding the ability to make the right decision for e-commerce businesses, a ton of brands are turning to alternatives. More and more browsers are starting to block traditional tracking and Google is set to eliminate third-party cookies by 2023. That's where Triple Pixel comes in. Triple Pixel enables you to track actions across your entire marketing ecosystem, build rich customer profiles, and more. That means better attribution on Facebook.

With a centralized view of every channel, you’ll get a clear view of when, where and why your customers buy from your e-commerce business. Check out Triple Pixel today.

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