Facebook Attribution Window – what is it and how should we use it?

Attribution Window is a simple Facebook ads setting that allows you to guide Facebook ads delivery system to better optimise your campaign to generate conversions.

It is a setting that lets you define the time allowed for a conversion to be recorded after the user has been exposed and or engages with your ad.

screen capture showing Facebook Optimization and Delivery settings and the high level options of post click or post click AND post view. Along with 1 day or 7 day attribution options.

How does the attribution window impact my ad delivery on Facebook?

The attribution setting directly affects how Facebook optimises your ad delivery to get you the best results possible. You can choose the attribution window at the ad set level for conversion objective based campaigns.

If you select a 1-day click or view setting, Facebook’s algorithm would learn and optimise from conversions that happened within a day of your ad being viewed OR clicked.  This would cause an increase in delivery of ads to users that take action within a day. Whereas if you select the 7 day click window Facebook will show ads to more people that are likely to convert within 7 days of clicking your and improve your return on ad spend (ROAS).

Important on how attribution window impacts the Learning Phase

An important thing to note here is that Facebook’s ad delivery system has a Learning Phase that is directly related to this attribution window. The Learning phase ends when your ad set receives typically 50 optimisation events within your chosen attribution window. When the learning phase ends Facebook’s ad delivery system is in the best position to optimise your campaign and generate best results possible. 

So if you use a 7 day click attribution setting the learning phase will end if you receive 50 conversions in 7 days from the day your ad set was first pushed live. Similarly, if you select 1 day click window your ad set will enter the active state when your ad set receives 50 conversions within 24 hours from the time your ad set was pushed live. 

What’s the Difference?

Conversion actions are measured based on clicks or views of your ad. With the exception of certain type of campaigns Facebook supports the following Attribution Windows:

  • 1 day click – optimises for people who are likely to take action on the same day
  • 1 day click or view – optimises for people who are likely to convert within 1 day of clicking or view your ad
  • 7 day click (default) – optimises for people who are likely to take action within 7 days of clicking your ad. Due to constraints around view-through attribution due to Apple’s new privacy enforcement measures, the default attribution setting for newly created ad sets will be 7-day click.
  • 7 day click or 1 day view – optimises for users who are likely to convert within 7 days of clicking your ad or within 1 day of viewing your ad. Results may be partial and not include all conversions from people using iOS 14 until further update.

You can find out more about the updates to the attribution settings that came into play due to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) prompt here.

Choosing the right Attribution Window

You should be selecting the most appropriate attribution window for your campaigns based on three criteria:

  1. The type of product/service you are promoting and the purchase cycle of your product. For example, if you are running a Monthly Donation campaign, a 7 day click or 7 day click + 1 day view window would be ideal as some users may need additional time to research about your cause and dig a bit deeper to understand how their donation will make a difference before committing to the charity. Also as a monthly acquisition campaign typically has lower volumes of conversions a longer attribution window will give the algorithms more data with which your campaigns will be optimised. Whereas if you are running an emergency response or hand-raiser campaign and are looking to drive leads to your website a 1 day view window would make sense as signing-up for a petition is a relatively impulsive decision where the users sign-up if they connect with the cause.
  2. The attribution window that will help you feed the algorithms the most amount of data in the shortest amount of time (i.e. to get to the 50 conversions required for learning to complete as soon as possible) – Facebook’s algorithm needs data inflow to optimise your ad sets to exit the learning phase. The sooner your campaign enters the active state the more conversions you generate and this should also result in reduced cost per result.  This is nearly always going to be the 7 day click + 1 day view attribution window.
  3. 1 day click is best if you are heavily involved in multi-channel advertising (Facebook, Google, Bing, Native, etc)  – the longer you make your attribution window then the blurrier your results may become and the more likely you are to experience “overlapping” conversions between platforms. Using the multi-channel funnel report in Google Analytics is a good way to start understanding these cross-channel interactions and start assigning value based on a more robust attribution model.

The Bottom Line

For most conversion campaigns, using the 7 day click and 1 day view conversion window makes most sense as this would increase the data flow into the algorithms for optimisation.  However, if your product has a very short sales cycle and your ads generate more than 50 conversions per day, then 1 day click may work better. 

It is important to test different attribution windows for different offerings. You can start comparing the impact of different attribution models using Facebook’s own attribution modelling. Here’s a guide to help you compare different attribution windows.