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Why can’t I trust the stats I see in my ad network account?

When it comes to tracking conversions it’s important to understand that the raw numbers you see in your ad network accounts – like Facebook and Google Ads for example – are not accurate enough to base important decisions on.

There are many technical reasons for this, and unfortunately many of them are impossible to explain in “layman’s terms.” But let’s just talk about how the ad networks attribute conversions and handle cross-device tracking –because these are two of the biggest problems, and they’ll be easy for you to understand.

And this information goes for all ad networks, but we’ll just talk about Google and Facebook in this example ...

By default, Facebook uses a 1-day view and 7-day click through attribution window. Google, by default, uses a 1-day view and 30-day click through attribution window. Let’s see what this means in the real world ...

What this means is that if someone clicks your Facebook ad and then converts on your site within 7 days, Facebook will take “credit” for that conversion. But Google is doing the same thing. Consider this simple example:

A user clicks your Facebook ad today, checks out your site, but does not convert. Five days from now they click your Google Ad and ultimately make a purchase.

Let’s see what your stats look like five days from now when that sale actually occurs ... 

Facebook is going to show that you had 1 sale for whatever Facebook ad the user clicked today.

Google is going to show that you had 1 sale for whatever Google ad the user clicked right before they purchased.

So you only had one sale, but according to Facebook and Google you had two sales – because they’re both taking credit for the same sale.

But wait, it gets even worse!

You may not even realize this, but the default attribution settings for both Facebook Ads and Google Ads will cause them to take credit for conversions that occur even if a user doesn’t actually click your ad.

That’s the “1-day view through” I mentioned earlier. And here’s another scary example about how that works …

If your Facebook ad is displayed in a user’s feed today, then tomorrow they search you up on Google and click your Google Ad and ultimately make a purchase, Facebook is going to once again take credit for the sale.

Even though the user didn’t click your Facebook ad. Heck, there’s a good chance the user didn’t even SEE your Facebook ad, and yet Facebook takes credit for the sale.

Now, let’s talk about cross-device tracking for a second – which is the ability to accurately track a user or customer across all of the devices they use.

In order to perform any type of cross device tracking, the ad platforms like Facebook and Google require the user to be logged in on all of their devices, all the time.

Consider a user that clicks your Facebook ad on their phone for example …

Imagine that they click your ad, they opt in on your landing page, but then they get distracted and leave your site.

A few days later they’re using their desktop computer at work and check their email, and see an email from you. They click the link and ultimately end up buying something.

That’s great, except they weren’t logged in to their personal Facebook account on their work computer so Facebook couldn’t track them. This type of thing happens all day, every day.

And on top of all of this, some browsers and security apps are now even actively and completely blocking the tracking codes from the major ad platforms like Google, Facebook and YouTube.

Obviously, this just makes everything that much worse and your stats that much more inaccurate.

Not to mention Facebook using the ridiculously short 7-day attribution window.

Just to be clear – this means that if someone clicks on your Facebook ad and doesn't buy within 7 days, those sales will never be tracked at all by Facebook!

I could go on and on about all the other reasons your ad network conversion stats aren’t correct, but it should already be pretty obvious – you simply cannot rely on the conversion stats in your ad accounts.

There are obviously lots of factors involved, but the data shows that the major networks like Facebook and Google misattribute or just completely miss anywhere from 20-50% or more of your conversions.

And in case you’re wondering about the other more “advanced” attribution settings offered by Facebook Ads and Google Ads, just know this simple fact – they’ll actually result in even more “phantom” sales, more incorrectly attributed sales, and more problems for 99% of advertisers.

The takeaway here is simple …

Assuming your tracking is set up correctly, you should always consider the numbers you see in ClickMagick to be more accurate and more useful for optimizing and scaling your ads than what you see in your ad accounts.

Article 658 Last updated: 09/07/2022 6:50:32 PM