How To Leverage Attribution Windows in Facebook to Gauge Campaign Performance

Today we’re talking about attribution windows. To keep things simple, we’ll use Facebook Ads as our example platform, but the concept of attribution windows applies to all ad platforms e.g. Google Ads, Twitter Ads, and so on.

What’s an Attribution Window?

Facebook defines attribution windows as:

The number of days between when a person viewed or clicked your ad and then subsequently took an action is called an attribution window. We report off ad actions based on views of your ad and clicks on your ad:

Clicks: A person clicked your ad and took an action. This is called click-through attribution.

Views: A person saw your ad, didn’t click it, but took an action within the attribution window. This is called view-through attribution.

Why Are Attribution Windows Important?

Marketers make decisions based on their analysis and evaluations of how their ad campaigns perform. If a campaign performs well, keep it going…or use it as a foundation for the next campaign. If a campaign performs poorly, scrap it.*

Here’s the catch: It’s becoming more and more common for users click or view and ad, wait several days or weeks, and then to convert on your site or app.

In other words, a person that buys something today from your online store may very well have clicked your ad—or simply viewed it while scrolling—three weeks ago.

Leverage Attribution Windows When Evaluating Campaign Performance

I feel like most marketers are making decisions based on a day-to-day basis when it comes to which ad sets are performing within KPIs. Analyzing metrics on a day-to-day basis doesn’t paint the entire picture, though. By knowing what your CPA will drop to based on a 28-day attribution window you may be able to let an ad set continue to run even if it’s running on the higher end of your KPIs because after 28-days the CPA will align.

Use the “Customize Columns” option in Facebook Ads to view the all the combinations of Attribution Windows that are available to you. Doing so will give you a true and accurate understanding of your campaign’s performance—you’ll find some campaigns have staying power i.e. they continue to drive conversions long after users initially clicked or viewed with its ads.

* Yes, this is an oversimplification of the process. Before you scrap a campaign, make sure you have enough data to actually make the decision to scrap it. Also, make sure you document what you’ve learned before moving on to the next campaign. The topic of this post, though, is attribution windows, so we’re not going to take a deep dive into how to evaluate performance of ad campaigns.

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