Facebook Removes the 28-Day Attribution Window [Updated]

Originally, Facebook had announced that it would be removing the 28-day attribution window functionality from its advertising platform, making the 7-day attribution window the longest period that could be selected. The change was set to go into effect on the 12th of October, 2020. This planning, however, has recently been adjusted. Check out this blog to learn more!

Angelina Natividad

Online Marketer at The Next Ad

*Update 12/10/2020: In a recent email to advertisers, Facebook stated that advertisers will proceed to have access to the 28-day click-through attribution window in Ads Manager and Ads Reporting through the end of the year (2020). 

The platform expects that upcoming web browsers changes will impact its tracking for events across websites, and anticipates the removal to take place as early as January 2021. This blog will be updated once more information is made available.*

Originally, Facebook had announced that it would be removing the 28-day attribution window functionality from its advertising platform, making the 7-day attribution window the longest period that could be selected. The change was set to go into effect on the 12th of October, 2020. 

As a result, businesses would see fewer reported conversions with a 7-day window compared to the original default 28-day window. In the original announcement, however, Facebook emphasized that the change would have no impact on the delivery or performance of ads. 

The 28-day attribution window allows advertisers to track conversions that occurred within 28 days of clicking, or 1 day of viewing, any ad. 

Why Facebook is removing the 28-day attribution window

The shift is a result of a number of changes in the platform’s data tracking policies. 

According to Facebook, the change is being enforced to make the platform more resilient to future browser changes and to enable businesses to better measure the impact of their marketing investments.

In the update to advertisers Facebook stated:

‘’Digital privacy initiatives affecting multiple browsers will soon limit the ability of businesses to measure people’s interactions across domains and devices. In support of these initiatives, Facebook is planning updates to attribution windows across our ads reporting surfaces.’’

The ‘future browser changes’ most likely refer to Google Chrome’s decision to phase out third-party cookies in the next two years. Chrome’s update was originally planned to be executed at the beginning of February 2020 but has been rolled back due to the COVID-19 situation. 

This is presumably following Safari’s and Firefox’s determination to limit first-party cookies to 7 days by default. 

The impact of the 28-day attribution window removal to advertisers

Effect on reporting: How advertisers perceive ad efficiency

While, as claimed by Facebook, the change should have little to no effect on campaign performances, there are some important factors that should be considered by businesses of all sizes. The removal of the 28-day attribution window is likely to affect different industries in different ways. 

Businesses that are operating in industries where the customer journey and path to purchasing typically have a longer process, may experience more difficulties in the way they view their ads performances on Facebook and act upon these insights. 

On the other hand, companies or brands that normally have fast(er)-converting customers and are already used to working with the 7-day attribution window, can expect little change in conversion reporting. 

Application to the Facebook Ads API

Facebook stated that the Ads Insights API will continue to supply 28-day attribution window data as a short-term workaround until the mentioned browser limitations go into effect. 

*Note regarding The Next Ad
Our advertising team uses our own ad technology and still has access to the 28-day attribution window function until further updates are made to the API and any browser limitations come into effect. In the meantime, get in touch with our team to make sure you’re taking the right steps.

No effect on ad delivery optimisation 

Although it may sound like the update will have an impact on the optimisation of ad delivery on Facebook, this doesn’t seem to be the case. For this, it’s important to understand the difference between ‘attribution windows’ and ‘conversion windows’. 

Whereas attribution windows are solely centred around displaying your gathered campaign performance data, conversion windows inform Facebook on how to optimise the ad delivery so that users are more likely to convert within this window & affect how your Bid Cap is assessed.

How to prepare your business

To make sure that your business is ready for this update, there are a number of things that we advise you to do:

  • Download any historical 28-day attribution window data needed before the changes to go into effect.
  • Anticipate for any changes in the reporting of your Facebook conversions, once the 7-day attribution window has been made default. Use the ‘Comparing Windows’ feature to see how conversions attributed to your ads compare across different attribution windows.
  • In case you currently have any automated rules running in your account that use a 28-day attribution window, make sure to check those and adjust them to the new 7-days default (if applicable).

Want to learn more about attribution measurement?

If you are not yet really familiar with the way attribution models work and how you can best measure the effectiveness of your ads, you might want to check out our webinar ‘How to Measure the Success of Your Online Campaigns’ or download our free guide about ‘Measurement & Attribution Modelling’!

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