Facebook has officially removed the 28-day attribution window option for some brands from its advertising platform. This window has historically been the default window for Facebook ad campaigns, but as of January 19th, the longest window available will be 7-days. Those brands affected will notice a new column called “Attribution Setting” which is showing up in the ad accounts. 
 

Why is Facebook changing the default cookie window?

 
According to their official announcement sent directly to advertisers, “Upcoming digital privacy initiatives affecting multiple browsers will limit business’s ability to measure people’s interactions across domains and devices. Among those limitations is the ability for businesses to attribute conversion events back to an ad over longer attribution windows.” The shift is due to the recent IDFA announcement as well as changes browsers are making with regard to cookies, including updates to Chrome and Safari, which already limits first-party cookies to seven days.
 

How will Facebook measurement changes impact advertisers?

 
Despite the 28-day window being the standard window, Facebook emphasized in their release that the 7-day model is a more realistic view of ad performance for the platform. The platform also acknowledges that brands who have been using the standard attribution window can expect a decline in conversions from those campaigns. However, Facebook did mention in their release that their algorithms don’t rely on a 28-day window, so in theory, there should be little to no impact on campaign performance.

Looking at the last three months of Tinuiti client performance, roughly 34% of purchase conversions fell after the 7-day click window. This decline in attribution could lead to Facebook being underrepresented in a cross-channel measurement. 

For brands with longer consideration periods or high-ticket items, the switch to a 7-day window could potentially have big effects on how they view Facebook performance. Tinuiti is recommending that advertisers who have historically relied on 28-day windows should consider running lift tests to find what attribution model makes the most sense long term in the event this rolls out more broadly. 

“The shift from 28-day post-click to 7-day post-click reporting in Facebook will undoubtedly change performance for many advertisers as the reporting window becomes shorter. The degree to which it will impact results will largely depend on the advertiser, the products they sell, and the associated price points. Regardless, we believe that Facebook doesn’t just play within the lowest part of the funnel, and often attribution that should be associated with the channel is not tracked. Advertisers should continue to use lift studies, halo analyses, holdout tests, and MTA partners to truly assess Facebook’s value to their business. This full-funnel journey and sophisticated form of measurement is something we live by at Tinuiti.”

Avi Ben-Zvi, Group Director, Paid Social at Tinuiti

 

 

Next steps for advertisers

 

For the affected brands,  at this point the goal is to measure drop off and monitor the impact. Advertisers should assess Facebook beyond post-click conversions, including view throughs and more sophisticated means of measurement as soon as possible.

While platform attribution is a good way to inform trends and optimizations, it can be limiting in terms of providing a full picture of how a channel plays in a marketing mix. Brands and marketers should look to have a more comprehensive and neutral view of performance through an outside attribution model. For more information on how Tinuiti works with clients to provide customized solutions, read more about our Mobius offering.
 
Other things to note: 
 

  • Facebook has added an “Attribution Setting” column so you can easily see what attributions campaigns are reporting out on
  • You can no longer optimize to a 28-day post-click window
  • Use the Comparing Windows feature to see how conversions attributed to your ads compared across different attribution windows. This will allow you to better anticipate any changes in reported conversions as a result of moving to a 7-day window.
  • Update any automated rules currently using a 28-day attribution window to prevent any unexpected adjustments in spend once the new 7-day click-through window default goes into effect

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