Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Facebook ads have changed a lot in the last year, and staying up to date with these changes is key to keeping your ad campaigns effective and getting the best results for your business. One element of Facebook’s ad campaigns that has gone through a lot of changes in 2021 is their attribution settings. There have been 2 rounds of changes already this year, both in line with Apple’s product releases and policies, with a wave of changes in anticipation of the ios 14 update in January, and another when the update was finally released in April.
In this article, we will break down the changes and explain the direction attribution settings are moving in, as well as letting you know the best attribution settings to choose to keep your ad campaigns ahead of the curve.
What Attribution Settings Are There Now?
You can set your attribution setting for a facebook ad campaign under ‘ad set level’. In your ad set, click ‘edit ad’, and scroll down to ‘attribution setting’. You will see a range of options to choose from. These options are:
1 day click
7 day click
1 day click or view
7 day click or view
How have Attribution Settings Changed?
Before this year’s changes to Facebook ads, instead of attribution setting there was the attribution window and the conversion window. The attribution window’s default setting was 28 days click, 1 day view.
This meant that if someone clicked on one of your ads, and then took the desired action from that ad, whether that be following your website or making a purchase, within 28 days, then they would be registered by Facebook as a ‘conversion’ and the purchase or action would be ‘attributed’ to the success of the campaign they had clicked on. This same process of categorising someone as a conversion and registering their data as an effect or attribute of your ad campaign would go for anyone who completed the intended action of the ad campaign within 1 day of viewing the ad.
Conversion window, rather than being used to attribute customer or follower actions to the campaign, determined the data Facebook would feed back into your ad campaign to optimise it. For example, if you were to set your conversion window to focus on clicks over a period of 10 days, then anyone who clicks on your ad and ‘converts’ within 10 days would become part of the data set Facebook used to optimise that ad campaign.
The big change Facebook has made this year is to combine these two features under ‘attribution setting’. What does this mean for how you choose your attribution setting? Now, when you select the time period and type of interaction in which to focus your attribution setting, you are choosing both the data you want to have fed back to you to rate your ad’s success, and the data you want Facebook to use to optimise your campaign.
Here is a link to Facebook’s support document for a more in depth guide to the changes: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/395050428485124?id=428636648170202
Choosing your Attribution Setting
So now you know what the attribution setting does, how do you choose which setting is right for your Facebook ad campaigns?
Lot of businesses will try to select their attribution setting by running a test campaign. However, the results of this can often be deceptive. If you run a short term test to select your attribution setting, a 7 day click through attribution may return little to no data, compared to a 1 day click through. 1 day click through then seems like the obvious choice - who doesn’t want to get their data quickly, and feel up to date with their campaign’s progress?
However, Facebook now has less and less access to real time data, creating a reporting delay. If you select 1 day click for your attribution setting, you get the illusion of fast results, but this reporting delay is still in place. This means the data from a 1 day click attribution setting will be very heavily modeled. Although a 1 day click setting brings you data quicker than a 7 day click attribution setting, the data you get is essentially an estimate, and far less accurate than the dtaa a 7 day click attribute would gather. Long term, less accurate data can have a huge detrimental effect on your business’s ability to be responsive to results and grow from its successes and failures.
The most effective approach to attribution settings is to focus on long term results over instantaneous data. If you do decide to run a test campaign, let it run ofr at least a week before passing judgement on how well a 7 day click attribution setting works for you. Whilst your data might take 3-4 days to come through with a 7 day click setting, it will be higher quality and save you time in the long run as you avoid repeating mistakes and optimise your campaigns based on evidence not estimates.
The Downfall of 1 Day View
When facebook first introduced attribution settings, the default was ‘7 day click or 1 day view’, in keeping with the 1 day view option that made up part of the original 28 day click default setting. However, the default attribution setting has since been changed to ‘7 day click’.
You may be wondering why in the tips above for choosing your attribution setting, we didn’t mention the 7 day click, 1 day view, as it is still there as an option. Including 1 day view data in your attribution settings might seem like a good idea. After all, the more data you give Facebook, the better results it can usually deliver for your ad campaign. However, there have been some changes to how Facebook collects data over the last year which have affected the accuracy of the 1 day view feature.
As mentioned in Facebook’s support document (linked above), a lot of the changes to attribute settings have been in line with changes to Apple’s ios technology. Apple has also had an influence on Facebook with their policy against view attributions, introducing limits on this data.
The result is that although Facebook still gives the option to include 1 day view data in your attribution settings, there are limits on their attempt to track campaign views and the actions taken from them. Including views in your attribution settings can lead to more inaccuracies in your data, and reduce the quality of optimisation Facebook can provide for your campaign.
Ultimately, Apple’s policy on view attribution is only going to become stricter, as they have made their stance against view data being used very clear. We have seen this year how much Facebook has changed its advertising options in regard to Apple’s data policies. It is far better to stay ahead of the curve on the direction Facebook is heading with its ads, and avoid options which measure views, than to risk having to start your campaigns from scratch if view data becomes void in the future.
Overall, the best option for attribution setting is Facebook’s current default, 7 day click through. However, it’s important to understand the reasons behind this, so you can keep adapting with Facebook’s policies. If you have an ad campaign that’s already working, then focus on introducing this attribute setting in new campaigns and see what results you get.
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