Ad Platforms

Facebook Attribution vs. Google Attribution

With the recent change in Facebook’s attribution window, we decided to analyze the differences between Facebook’s Attribution and Google Analytics’ Attribution models to see which is better for your business.

With the recent change in Facebook’s attribution window from 28 days to 7 days, we at Optily thought a review of what attribution is all about was in order.

Too often, we come across content with an explanation full of jargon and complicated industry language, that doesn’t help anyone! That’s why in this blog we will try to demystify the term “attribution” and discuss the difference between Facebook and Google attribution in an easy to understand way.

This isn’t a new argument. For years, we’ve seen advertisers complain about the difference between what they see in Google Analytics and in Facebook Ads Manager. Google Analytics reports a lower number of transactions and revenue coming from social paths. At the same time, Facebook attribution shows much better results in campaigns than Google.

Does this mean Facebook’s system is better? No. Google and Facebook simply use different attribution mechanics: one focuses on customer actions such as clicks, and the other focuses primarily on the person performing the action.

What is marketing attribution?

Attribution is a sale’s story in the marketing world. It outlines the path that each individual sale took within your business to ultimately become a sale. Including the very first ad that the customer saw, all the way until they purchased your product. Simply put, is a way to determine which marketing channel contributed to each sale by analyzing each and every touchpoint with the customer.

By analyzing attribution data, marketers can clarify what channels and what messages were crucial for the customer’s decision to  purchase your product. By looking at this data, finding what works best, marketers can optimize their strategy to achieve a higher return on ad spend (ROAS), and increase the conversion rate.

Digital Touchpoints on Facebook and Google

How does a marketing attribution model work?

Attribution models measure how different events within the customer’s purchasing journey contribute to conversion events further down the funnel. Marketing attribution works by identifying and quantifying the relationships between marketing touchpoints and conversion events.

The most important conversion events in a typical customer journey might consist of four major touchpoints:

  1. The First Touch – The “first touch” happens the first time a prospective customer engages with a company’s advertising content. This may be viewing an ad, filling out a contact form or visiting the company website.

  2. Lead Generation – A “prospect” becomes a “lead” once they agree to be contacted by the company to gather more information. They can give consent by opting into an email submission form, requesting a demo, or otherwise providing the company with their contact information.

  3. Opportunity Creation – Once a lead has been created, the process can move further along and they can be contacted to discuss their interest. Next, the lead is qualified by the team. This labels where the lead came from and how to proceed with them. A qualified lead becomes a great opportunity for the sales team to convert them into a sale.

  4. Conversion – This is the final stage of the customer’s main journey. This point represents the closing of the client in a sale. After this point, customer retention begins to create a loyal customer base and opportunities for up-selling and referral sales start.

Types Of Attribution

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The world of online advertising grows ever more complex by the day. There are now several popular attribution models marketers use. Each model has its own unique traits and aims to gain insight into how, where, and when people interact with the company. This allows marketers to optimize and curate their campaigns to improve their ROAS.

Here we will explain the main types of marketing attribution models.

  1. Last click: This model attributes all results to the final step e.g the last clicked ad and keyword, in the conversion path.

  2. Time decay: This model assigns more “credit” to the touchpoints that are closer to the date of final conversion. Credit is distributed using a 7-day half-life. This method may be used in a situation where the customer is indecisive and takes a long time to make the decision to purchase.

  3. Linear: This attribution model divides the credit equally between all stages and touch points on the full path to conversion. This  means that all touchpoints on the path of our customer receive equal appraise in the final review.

  4. U-Shaped: Also known as a position-based attribution model. This model distributes the credit using a percentage based system between all touchpoints of the conversion path. It gives 40% of credit to the first and last touchpoint. Then the remaining 20% is distributed across the other interactions on the customer’s journey.

  5. First click: Similar to the “Last Click” attribution model, this gives 100% of the credit to the first touch point and corresponding keyword on the purchase journey.

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There is one more extremely important attribution model. It’s the one that we feel best represents the complex process of a customer’s journey.

6. Data-driven: This model distributes credit for the conversion based on your individual past data for this conversion action. It’s slightly different from the other aforementioned models.  It uses your company’s account data to calculate the actual contribution of each interaction across the conversion path.

Facebook Attribution Vs. Google Attribution

Facebook and Google are very often compared to each other. Here we will compare the three main differences in their respective attribution models.

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  1. Default Setting:  Google’s baseline attribution model isn’t Last-Click attribution as many people assume, but Last Non-Direct Click. This model functions by assigning 100% of the credit for a conversion event to the channel where the last click originated immediately prior to the conversion. This is different from the Last Click model as it does not give credit to direct website visits. All Google Analytics reports therefore give zero credit to links from any channels or ads that a user may have used prior to navigating to your website other than the very last one. Facebook, on the other hand, attributes itself all sales that occurred from all people who saw ads on Facebook. This default model is the prime reason for the incompatibility between Facebook and Google attribution.

  2. Time framesGoogle Analytics is unable to track Facebook’s view-through conversions. This means that there is no way to track Facebook impressions using Google Analytics. Facebook’s default 7 day attribution window means that anyone who saw an ad but did not click on it during the timeframe WILL count as a conversion on Facebook but WILL NOT count on Google Analytics.

  3. Multiple Device Tracking: Facebook has the ability to track user activities across all their different devices i.e laptop, tablet, phone. Meanwhile Google Analytics is not able to track cross-device conversions. This is one of Facebook’s biggest advantages. Their ability to link different actions across multiple platforms that lead to conversion with particular Facebook users is extremely powerful. As long as the user is signed into Facebook advertisers can track and target the same user across all their browsers and devices. Google Analytics relies only on their cookies which means that all the tracking happens inside the browser where the cookie was produced but nowhere outside that platform.

How Optily Can Help Your Business

Optily is a cross-channel advertising optimization software that allows for the simple implementation and management of ads across the largest media platforms available  including Facebook and Google.  Optily creates a data bridge between Facebook Ads and the Google Marketing Platform, which enables real-time optimization across Facebook and Google ads.

We make cross-platform advertising easy and efficient. Making your conversions effortless.

Think of the power of Facebook and Google attribution models working together!

The Verdict

It’s vital for all marketers to understand attribution models and the differences between Facebook vs. Google analytics data. Marketers need this knowledge to be able to successfully attribute creative, set audience targeting, and ultimately drive conversions.

The platforms both collect the attribution data differently, but that doesn’t make either way wrong or right. I would suggest trying out both Facebook and Google attribution models to see which works best for your business. If in doubt give our team a message and they’ll be more than happy to help!

About Optily

Optily is the only single-click ad spend optimizer for eCommerce. Our plug-and-play online platform quickly links all of your Google and Facebook ads together and helps you easily determine which campaigns are working. With just one click, you can apply our optimization recommendations–like moving budget from a lower performing Google ad to a better performing one on Instagram. 

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