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Let's Talk Attribution

8 months ago
Everyone’s favorite topic right now: attribution. 

Attribution models, first click, last click, multi-touch, what platform to use as a source of truth, channel-specific reporting. 

It’s a mess. 

Recently, we’ve been trying to tackle this with several of our clients and answering the question “How do we best track the user flow from the first visit to conversion?”
The first step is to define the source of truth, whether it be Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Facebook Analytics, or whatever e-commerce platform you’re using (like Shopify). 

Without this agreed upon source of truth, data can get convoluted and inaccurate due to how each platform attributes their goal conversions. 

Let’s focus on Google Analytics vs Facebook conversion reporting.


Google Analytics

Google Analytics keeps things as simple as they come. It uses a last touch attribution model that assigns conversions and goal completions to the most recent (last) source/medium from which the user came.
Granted, this will only be accurate if your UTM’s or whatever click tracker/custom parameter system you’re using is built and implemented properly.
While conversion data is based on the last touch, advertisers still have insight into how different channels helped push a user along the path to purchase via several attribution reports, including Assisted Conversions, Top Conversion Paths, and Path Length.
Google Ads
Quick shout out to Google Ads. I prefer to leverage auto-tagging for Google Ads because…well it saves a lot of time and bridges the gap between Google Ads and Analytics effortlessly. Data will start to populate with click/cost data imported into Google Analytics while goal completions and conversions are attributed via Google Analytics and imported back into Google Ads.
This will allow search/display/video campaign data from Google Ads to accurately be compared to other channels, like email and social.


While Facebook is also last touch like Google Analytics, the way it assigns credit is slightly different. By default, the conversion window is 28 days post click or 1-day post view, so Facebook also counts conversions if a user *sees* an ad.
So this means the last ad a user clicks or sees before a conversion is made, even if they got to the site from another channel like paid search, will get attributed that conversion.
For example, you see an ad on Facebook for a hip new bomber jacket and click on the ad. You shop around the site but don’t actually make a purchase. Let’s say 5 days later, you decide you actually do need that hip new bomber jacket, search for the store on Google, and click on a paid search ad. You complete the purchase.
Google Analytics will assign the conversion to Paid Search within the Channels report (or google/cpc as the source/medium report), since this was the last touch and last source that you came from to complete the purchase. However, Facebook sees you as only 5 days post-click (within the 28-day post-click conversion window) and awards itself with that conversion.
This explains why Google Analytics and Facebook will typically never align in conversion reporting.
You do have some flexibility with the conversion window and can even compare if you want to look at a sort of delayed attribution report.


While different advertising platforms have different attribution systems, there are some products on the market that help bridge the gap in understanding how, when, and in what way customers take action on a site.
Our product, Bento, allows e-commerce business owners to understand the user flow from first interaction to final conversion with visibility into the full funnel. There is no conversion window, so marketers can understand how a potential lead first interacted with the brand and then how often and through what channel they again visited the site.

This includes tracking various ad interactions, user flows through the site via tagging events and creating audiences, collecting and leveraging data for CRM campaigns, and finally calculating the lifetime value of customers.
All of this gives more data for marketers to know their customers. Bento means understanding the people that come to your site, customizing the messaging whether it’s email marketing or website personalization, and finally attributing and analyzing conversion data, all while being able to integrate into systems you may already be using like Shopify, Stripe, or Zapier.

Every marketing platform has its own ways to calculate and analyze data, it just means you need to decide what your goals are and which one works best for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Bento, feel free to hit us up!