Social Media

How Facebook counts conversions is changing — what you need to know

In order to comply with Apple’s new privacy policies, Facebook (and its ad management software) is changing fundamentally. This includes changes to how conversions are counted, and which ads get credit.

Who gets the credit? The athlete, or the coach? The president, or the legislature? The child, or the village that raised them?

Naturally, we give the medal to the athlete, not the coach who spent hours and hours training them; we blame the president for increased taxes, not Congress, who wrote and passed the legislation; and we compliment the child, who is, in all reality, the result of countless individuals who assisted in their growth and development. When we take a step back, however, we see that there is so much more that contributes to any end result.

The same principle applies to digital marketing, and how conversions are reported. Every online platform wants to take the credit, so it does. If Facebook ads contributed to that final conversion, it will vie to take the credit (within certain parameters).

In the past, the default attribution window for Facebook ads was 28 days of clicking or one day of viewing. This means that if a consumer clicked on your ad in the last 28 days (or viewed the ad in the last 24 hours) and converted within that same time period afterwards, Facebook would give itself credit for the conversion. This industry standard is now cut dramatically.

Apple’s new privacy update in iOS 14, called App Tracking Transparency, creates some hurdles when it comes to advertising on Facebook. Apple’s enforcement of its new policies has yet to begin — but when it does, Facebook warns of the impact it will have on businesses who rely on the robust capabilities of Facebook Ads Manager and its user tracking aptitude.

In order to comply with Apple’s new privacy policies, Facebook (and its ad management software) is changing fundamentally. This includes changes to how conversions are counted, and which ads get credit. That 28 day click or one day view attribution window is now being replaced with a temporary default of seven days of clicking and one day of viewing (temporary because the one day of viewing will be dropped as soon as Apple begins enforcing its new privacy policies).

Facebook's January 19, 2021 notice in its Ad Manager.

Essentially, this means that Facebook can only claim credit for conversions when a user clicked on an ad and made a purchase (or converted in another way) in that same seven day window. While a user may see your ads for weeks or even months before converting, the user must take action during this narrow window of time in order for it to be “counted” on Facebook.

This is, of course, only going to happen if an Apple user opts in to being tracked by Facebook, but that’s another issue entirely. If a potential purchaser opts out of having their information tracked by Facebook, they might still click on your ad and then convert during that window of time — but because Facebook can’t track that user, they won’t know they won (so they won’t give themselves the award, or credit, for the conversion).

Now that you know the nitty gritty of the Facebook ads’ attribution window changes, the real question is, “what does this mean for my ads?”

Well, this really means that reporting will look different. That’s it. Numbers of adds to cart, purchases, website leads, and other conversions may decrease because the attribution window is smaller. This does NOT mean that your ads are not continuing to play a role in producing those conversions.

Truly, your Facebook ads are the coach to your athlete, the legislature to your president, the village to your child — one of the many reasons your business has the success it does. If Facebook ads aren’t already a part of your company’s marketing strategy, now’s the time to partner with a Swello expert who can navigate the ever-changing policies and ad management softwares to help you succeed.

Regardless of how Apple’s privacy updates affect Facebook ads — and no matter the digital waves that seem to come your way, Swello Marketing is equipped with the tools any business, big or small, needs to succeed. We will help your brand to navigate changes and find solutions, because it’s what we do every day.

Attribution FAQs

When are these attribution window changes taking place?

The first major change in attribution windows took place on January 19, 2021. We are now using the seven day click or one day view attribution window. Apple has yet to announce when it will be enforcing its privacy updates, but it is anticipated to occur early this year (2021). When this happens, we will use a seven day click attribution window only.

If one of my customers clicked on several of my ads, will each ad get credit?

No! Facebook uses a last touch attribution model, meaning that 100% of the credit for a conversion is given to the ad last clicked on (or “touched”) by a user — even if many other ads contributed to that user’s consideration of your product or service.

My ROAS (or another conversion metric) on my reporting dashboard is decreasing substantially — what’s happening?

This may likely be a result of a smaller attribution window that has been used in the past. It is expected that the number of conversions reported will decrease with this change, even while the number of conversions your business is receiving goes unchanged. If you want to be sure, contact your Swello point of contact, or talk with a Swello digital marketing expert here.

Where can I read more about these changes?

We recommend Facebook’s own content that discusses these changes. Check out Facebook’s Business Help Center here.

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