June 14, 2021

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Zero Attribution: Why Facebook Ads Aren’t Tracking As Many Purchases And What To Do About It

Marketing

What’s Going On?

We’ve all heard the news about Apple’s iOS14.5 update, which as of April 26th, made some big privacy changes that have effected Facebook’s ability to track which ads brought in which purchases. The biggest problem this caused was delayed attribution, meaning as advertisers, we didn’t know which ads were working until three days had passed. This was/is a problem, no doubt, but it’s something we’ve been able to overcome.

Now we’re seeing something much different: Zero Attribution. In this case, Facebook is simply unable to see which ads brought in purchases and therefore reports zero purchases. As a result, your daily ad budget stays the same, but the associated revenue looks much, much lower.

Now, if you ever log in to Facebook Ads Manager, you may be thinking to yourself “I’m still seeing purchases, just a lot less of them”. That is because this problem is exclusive to Apple. For anyone who purchases from a non-Apple device, that purchase will be reflected in your Facebook Ad Account. However, for anyone who purchases from an Apple device, that purchase will not be reflected in your Facebook Ad Account (for the most part).

Do You Have An Example?

Now, coming from a Facebook Marketing Agency, I’m sure you’re wondering if this information is entirely accurate or if we’re simply trying to make ourselves look better. We’d be thinking the same thing in your position. That’s why we’ve spent the past three days gathering extensive data which we can now present to you.

On Friday June 11th, we started running ads for a brand new Shopify account. This business has zero Instagram followers, no TikTok account and zero Google presence. The only way this website can be found is through Facebook ads. Here are the results from Friday - Sunday:

Through business manager, you can see that we’ve spent $407.86, generated 14 purchases, making $714.94 in revenue with a 1.75 average ROAS.

Now, when we take a look at the results in Shopify, we see $2,220.88 generated in revenue for the same time period. Therefore the true ROAS for this business from Friday June 11th - Sunday June 13th was 5.44. Math: $2,220.88 / 407.86 = 5.4452 ROAS.

We’ve attached images below for your reference:

How Can We Fix This?

There’s two parts to this answer. First, we can start using custom UTM codes on our Facebook ads that link to Google Analytics. This essentially allows us to edit the domain we are using in each ad to include which campaign, which audience, and which ad the website traffic is coming from. We can then look in Google Analytics to see which ads are driving purchases, along with other key metrics such as your CTR (click through rate).

If you’re already a client of ours, you can simply sign up to Google Analytics, install the GA tracking code into the header of your website, then invite my team to access your GA account using the email: brock@digitl.ca. You’re welcome to reach out over Slack or email if you have any difficulties with this.

Second, starting on June 15th, Facebook has announced that they are changing the way they track purchases to more accurately reflect which ads, audiences & campaigns are performing best. We don’t yet know how effective this update will be, but rest assured we have a pulse on the situation and will keep you updated the moment we know more!

Are There Any Other Take-Aways?

The most important thing to keep in mind while we navigate these changes is to keep the tap running! Although we can’t currently see exactly how much revenue your Facebook Ads are generating at the moment, it’s important to remember that (for most of our clients) Facebook Ads are still your primary source of website traffic, and eliminating that traffic source will likely have a bigger impact on your businesses revenue than you might have anticipated.

In the meantime, we will work to setup Google Analytics for all of our clients (please remember to give us access) to improve our ad tracking, and we will keep you updated with the ongoing changes to the Facebook Ads platform.

The second takeaway is to remember to look at your ROAS from a holistic point of view. This means looking at your total revenue generated in Shopify (minus organic revenue from repeat buyers or email campaigns), divided by your total advertising investment (including Facebook Ads, Google Ads, TikTok Ads & money spent on influencers). This will make it easier to determine exactly how profitable your business is as a whole, rather than looking at each ad platform individually. Here is the equation for quick reference:

(Total Revenue ➖ Organic Revenue)➗Advertising Costs = Holistic ROAS

How Can I Help Others?

As an Apple user, you still have the right to allow small business to track their purchases in Facebook. All you have to do is click “Allow” on the notification below when it appears on your mobile Facebook app. If you’ve already selected “Ask App not to Track”, you can quickly change this by heading to Settings > Privacy > Tracking > and turning on “Allow Apps to Request to Track”.

Speak with our team.

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