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Tracking Facebook Ads in Google Analytics

Tracking Facebook Ads in Google Analytics

Let’s say you have a website connected to a Google Analytics (GA) account. And you also have a really good Facebook ad campaign, which means it’s not the cheapest. People click on your ads, visit your site, buy or leave. However, how can you get more information about their Facebook and website activities? A common way is to collect customer behavior data on your Facebook and Google Analytics. Here are a few reasons why you can ask yourself about analytics right now:

  • Facebook can only show you what happened before the ad was clicked. And this data is not as reliable as it should be;
  • Google Analytics displays what happens after visitor clicks on an ad and tells you who visits your site from social networks;
  • Google Analytics displays all of your channels so you may analyze and compare them.

That’s why Google Analytics is the most popular Facebook advertising campaign tracking platform. So let us provide you with how to combine these two systems in one digital analytics tool.

Why Facebook Ads Should be Tracking in Google Analytics

1. Tracking Facebook ads in Google Analytics is a great idea if the statistics from different sources are not aligned – for example, if you find problematic data in Ads Manager and Google Analytics that do not match anything. The discrepancies between the data from Facebook and Google Analytics are due to different approaches to tracking and some other technical factors. Cleverly combining all the analytical tools we have is the only way to get data on what users do before and after clicking on ads.

2. Tracking Facebook advertising campaigns in Google Analytics is critical to researching your overall marketing costs and calculating your return on ads spend (ROAS). You can assume that in some way you can improve your advertising on social networks, but you do not have data that you could rely on in your ratings.

3. Tracking Facebook advertising data in Google Analytics is a good idea if you’ve started your journey from an SMM specialist to an analyst and decided to begin by analyzing Facebook data.

Differences Between Facebook Insights and Google Analytics

Before comparing ad performance across two platforms, make sure your Facebook conversions are defined in the same way as your goals in Google Analytics, and that all of your ads have the correct URL parameters. Even if your conversions are defined the same way and the tracking parameters are correct, you’ll still see differences when comparing advertising performance with Facebook Insights and Google Analytics.

The main reason for the discrepancy is that Google Analytics and Facebook use different marketing attribution models. By default, Facebook provides an advertising score for all conversions that occur within 28 days after a click on an ad or within one day after viewing an advertisement, regardless of any other channels with which the user could interact after advertising on Facebook. You may read more on Facebook attribution. Google Analytics, on the other hand, will assign conversion credit to the last touch, which includes all channels, not just Facebook, by default. Besides, Google only considers Facebook traffic if the user clicked on an ad and not just viewed it. For these reasons, Facebook is more liberal in its performance calculations.

A look at the Facebook attribution model

As already stated earlier, Facebook uses a last-touch attribution model. What this means is that the last click and the view of an ad before a conversion, within the selected attribution window are applied to the conversion. 

The default attribution window is used to provide information, on one-day post view, and twenty-eight days post-click. But now it is set to only seven days post-click, and one day after the post view. To put it more clearly, the last ad the user interacts with by clicking on or simply viewing, regardless of what channel or source they get to the site from, will be attributed to that conversion, as long as it has happened within the attribution window. 

Even with the updated default attribution window (seven days post-click, and one-day post view), you can still use Comparing Windows in the Facebook Ads Manager across different attribution windows. 

The difference between reporting and the optimization and delivery attribution

Many seem to mistake the reporting and optimization attribution window. Attribution for the reporting window is defined on the ad account level. This information only affects reporting in the Facebook Ads Manager. 

This is while the optimization and delivery attribution is set on the ad level, the maximum time frame for this attribution window has always been seven days. The optimization and delivery window has been used to optimize conversion objective campaigns. This data determines what ads to show users.

Google Analytics conversion attribution

Ecommerce events and conversions such as events and parameters in GA4 and goals in universal analytics can be all tracked with Google analytics. Contrasting to Facebook, Which tracks what happens after users view or click the ad, google focuses on how they got there. Google Analytics provides a ton of useful information on user on-site behavior and also an understanding of how the users navigate the site and walk through the funnel before converting.

Using a last touch attribution model, Google assigns conversions, to the most recent source from which the user entered. By accessing these attribution insights, we better grasp how the user converts when they have reached the site. To get a comprehensive understanding, you access the noted reports under multi-channel funnels:

  • Path length
  • Assisted conversions
  • Top conversion paths
  • Time lag

You can review the last interaction (the default), first interaction, and time decay, through the model comparison tool. You can even create custom models. This data can be very helpful in better perceiving how a user finds their way to your website and the multi-channel path that leads to purchase. However, considering the limitations of cookie tracking, this information must be seen as directional. 

The impacts of the iOS 14 update on tracking

The new IOS14 privacy update makes you unable to track people using IOS14 against their consent. IOS 14 is now prompting the users to allow or not allow tracking for all Facebook applications.

Apple recently declared that an update coming soon to IOS 14, will make the users able to choose to allow tracking or to not allow it for Facebook applications. In May 2018 a concept called the “SKAdnetwork” was introduced to the world by Apple. The goal was to increase users’ privacy through this feature. The SKAdnetword will be used on all the devices that have an IOS 14 or higher installed and it will restrict, aggregate, or delay all app event data. Reporting of events will be delayed to up to 3 days after an app is installed, and event data will be restricted to a maximum of nine campaigns. You are also unable to use more than 5 ad sets for each of these campaigns. Facebook claims that this will “harm the growth of business and the free internet.” If the users choose to not allow tracking, your data will be limited, and so will heavily, be your ability to optimize appropriately. Your capability to track conversions, run effective dynamic ads, retarget based on your current audience, etc, will all be affected. It is estimated that mobile data accounts for 60% of all web traffic, and Apple accounts for around 50% of this data, so we will lose the ability to track 30% of all traffic. Facebook is frustrated. They have created a campaign named “speak up for small businesses”. Businesses from all over the world use this campaign to voice their concerns. According to Facebook, these changes will limit your ability to:

  • Effectively recognize people’s engagement with your business, and deliver ads to them based on that.
  • Measure and report conversions on customers that have not allowed tracking
  • Efficiently allocate budgets and estimate and optimize cost per click and action over time
  • Accurately assign app installs to the people using iOS 14, and later IOS users
  • Make sure that your ads are received by the most suited audience

How Facebook advertising will change because of IOS 14

To put it shortly, Facebook will change to match the new situation. Here is a list of the coming changes:

Events will be limited

Conversions will be limited to 8 per domain. Conversions and page views and custom conversions and other forms of pixel events are included as well. Any Ads that are optimized for an event that is not one of the top eight, will be paused. So as an advertiser, you would have to prioritize the eight events that matter most to your business. This only about the number of events that you can optimize towards and you may still track more events for reporting and audience creation. This is especially bad news for small and local businesses which don’t have as much data as the big game players. The more people update to IOS 14, the more targeting audiences will be lost.

for gaining more information click on facebook local ads

28 day click attribution window will be removed

7-day click and 1-day view attribution will replace the 28-day attribution window.

Videos will rise to become the dominant type of media

According to Mark Zuckerberg in 2016, Facebook could be mostly video by 2021. The effects are already visible. Based on word stream data, videos are on average ten percent of the cost of a single image ad or carousel. Users seem to spend way more time on posts that contain videos. About 69% of marketers state that video ads have way higher ROI. Any type of non-static imagery, including gifs, is the way to go. 

There is no denying that the digital marketing ecosystem is extremely dynamic. The iOS 14 app changes are officially happening, and there is nowhere to run. Changes in the digital ads ecosystem are constant and have always been there. From government regulations to tech company policies, changes have happened in the past and are certain to happen again in the future.

Another feature Apple has presented is PCM. PCM is a protocol for web attribution and stands for private click measurement. If an ios 14 user clicks on an ad and is taken to a web browser to complete the purchase, the event could be lost and not attributed like before. PCM will also make it harder to track locations. This means if a foreigner clicks on a US-based company’s ad, they would not be brought to the site of their location, and the sale would be lost. Luckily Facebook is planning to release a tool called “Aggregated Event Management” that helps solve this problem. Aggregated Event Management will help to properly attribute sales if a problem like the ones stated above occurs. Limited data will make it harder to run ads for advertisers. Clients will be only able to see a few of the reported conversions, and the conversion event breakdowns will not even exist. As the privacy-first web evolves, we will lose the ability to target a specific person.

What does FB do in this manner?

Facebook will still be able to present you with deterministic data, which will tell you if a user first clicks on a mobile ad, but later uses their desktop to reach your website. But with their switch to an aggregated measurement model, their measurement protocol will no longer be deterministic but probabilistic. However, you must remember that Facebook still owns a lot of first-party data on users that cannot be found elsewhere.

On the other hand, google analytics conversions are cookie-based and see the same mobile and desktop visitor as two completely different people. If a person clicked on an ad on Facebook and visited the website, but later returned through an organic search on Google, Google analytics would be recognizing them as two different users, and categorizing the website reach as organic, while Facebook would recognize them as the same user.

Google still has its mobile and ID so its situation is not as bad as Facebook. Yet, it seems like google will follow the new privacy changes Apple has made, to avoid consumer backlash and regulations from the government. Most people running Google search campaigns, based upon a single search resulting in a single conversion, will not be going to be hugely affected at this stage. However, it is a different story if you are running longer funnels. You won’t be able to rely on data from previous sessions to make your decisions. And if you are dependent on retargeting to bring back past visitors, you will have less visibility to track if these are working to convert leads.

However, when GA4 is released, Google will be able to dig through its valuable treasure of first-party data and machine learning to identify users across all possible devices.

How can we adapt to the changes iOS 14 will make?

The digital marketing ecosystem is going through a fundamental change. Aside from the IOS14 privacy update, GA4 is getting released, and Google is removing its support for third-party cookies and changing Google Ads to cohort targeting with FloC. It will become harder to target an individual and people tracking will slowly fade away. This all results in less deterministic results when reporting within the advertisers’ platform.

Three main things must be pointed out with these changes:

  1. You should build better first-party relationships with your customers, early on the funnel. Through direct response marketing, and emphasis on capturing customer first-party early data, marketers will be able to measure the efficiency of their campaign as later on. The new marketing strategy is building up relationships with your customers that translate to healthy LTVs and LTV: CAC ratios.
  2. The last click measurement is going to make a huge comeback. Although it only functions in a short period of time, and will not tell you the full story, the last click measurement will allow optimization for each channel, campaign, audience, and creative. Digging through UTMs and Google Analytics are great ways to get this done.
  3. Blended ROAs will become a common way to measure the overall success of a campaign. They will also help justify marketing budgets. This will change the way we think of where brand and direct response marketing and creativity will start to converge.

What Do I Need to Do Before Start Tracking the Facebook Ads

To start tracking Facebook ads in Google Analytics, you need to make sure that each page has the GA or GTM tracking code that you want to monitor. Besides, administrator rights are required for all your Google Analytics activities.

Keep in mind that with Google Analytics you can only track your campaigns, pages, and actions in your account, which are closely related to your website. For example, you can’t say exactly what people are doing before clicking on the link to your site. But you can set the Facebook Pixel to track the cost of events on the Facebook side. Also, you may set goals and conversions in GA. Keep in mind that both of these platforms have the same settings. This is necessary for the further import of data and combining them into one database. You also need to prepare an advertising campaign on Facebook and set it up specifically for GA:

  • Collect all the URLs and links that you will use in your campaign;
  • Fill them with UTM parameters to mark them uniquely;
  • Paste these URLs into your campaigns.

UTM options are key to working with various types of Facebook advertising campaigns. If you create the UTM correctly, the data will be marked correctly and you will receive the necessary reports.

Collect All the URLs and Links that You will Use in Your Campaign 

To get started, use a spreadsheet (Excel, Google Sheets, LibreOffice Calc, etc.). Put all the necessary URLs in one column and make sure that they lead to your site with Google Analytics installed. You can also include other items besides the URLs that you need to track for your ad campaign. Add the Visit Website button or the URLs of your main web page to the information block of your business page. All of these URLs will look like Facebook entry points to your site where Google Analytics will collect traffic data. 

Complete Link with UTM Parameters

Finally, we will explain what UTM is! You saw it as a long tail or URL text when you clicked on ads and went to another page. UTM code means the Urchin Tracking Module. This is fine if you don’t remember the Urchin Tracking Model, but you must remember that UTM’s provide a universal way to track your links.

You use UTM to tell you exactly where the traffic from the website comes from: for example, the email that has been clicked on, which advertising campaign they converted to, which of your marketing efforts bring the most traffic.

So what information can be included in a UTM URL? Here is a table displaying the types of UTM parameters:

UTM
parameter
SyntaxMeaning
Sourceutm_sourceWhere does your traffic come from
Mediumutm_mediumThe platform that you are using
Nameutm_campaignThe marketing campaign of this message
Term (optional)utm_termThe term you’ve set in an advertising campaign
Content (optional)utm_contentWhere this link leads to

This is enough to track even in the most complex campaigns on Facebook.

  1. The source for a Facebook campaign is usually set as “facebook”.
  2. The medium for a Facebook campaign can be “CPC” if it’s a paid advertisement, or “social” if it’s organic on Facebook.
  3. The name of the campaign you must choose for yourself. But keep in mind that URLs are case sensitive and you may not remember what they mean. Therefore, pay attention to the names of advertising campaigns.
  4. Terms and content are optional and are used primarily in Google’s advertising campaigns.
tracking-the-ad

The Simplest Method to Track Facebook Advertising Campaign via Google Analytics

Let’s assume that the UTM phase is complete. Next steps:

Open your Google Analytics account. Navigate to the Acquisition → Campaigns → All Campaigns section.

acquisition on ga

Then filter the view by the primary dimension Source/Medium. Or use the small search line and enter the Campaign Name that you used in your UTM tags.

You may also create a segment or user filter for campaigns on social networks or see how people lead to placing an order in the  Acquisition → Social → User Flow section.

You may create a simple custom filter that contains just incoming Facebook traffic. This will help you break the data and make it easier to get through it. Keep in mind that filters at the property level will ignore data that does not match this filter, and that you will lose the filtered data in this property. So it’s better, safer, and easier to use segments.

watch the timeline

In the section Acquisition → Social → Conversions → Facebook → Assisted vs Last Interaction Conversions you can also find some ideas.

But without the next integration of cost data, you won’t be able to see a significant portion of the results of your ads, because you won’t see your profitability. So, let’s get a little deeper into ROAS calculation by importing cost data.

Set up Your Facebook Cost Data Tracking in Google Analytics

There are two ways to go. You can configure it manually or get the help of professionals. By choosing manual tuning without preparation and a full understanding of the process often leads to errors in reports and additional problems.

1. Let’s see how we can manually track Facebook’s cost data in Google Analytics.

Open your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Acquisition → Campaigns → Cost Analysis Report section.

cost analysis

Then filter by facebook in the search bar and see your campaigns for a certain period. If you have zeros with some campaigns it’s okay, even if they are pretty depressing. These are campaigns that you need to enrich with cost data.

2. Now navigate to Admin → Property → Data Import.

data import on ga

This is the place where you can add cost data

3. Click the Create button

add cost data on ga

Now, you have to be in the Data Set schema settings. Select Cost Data. Name it and select the views in which you want to implement this part of the cost data. The next step displays the requirements for the data scheme, which should be in a spreadsheet that must be prepared for proper operation.

set the data

As you may see, the date, medium, and source should be listed in your import table. You have also added cost, clicks and impression lines in any combination. You may add additional fields at the bottom of the settings. Choose Import Behavior from the Summation or Rewrite data uploading rules.

4. After you have changed the settings, your new data schema will appear in the main menu of Data Import. You are now ready for uploading from the Google Analytics side.

5. Press the Get Scheme button

getting the schema

It will download an Excel template.

6. This is how the downloaded template looks like:

excell template

And the most interesting thing is filling up these columns.

7. Open Ad Manager or Facebook Pixel. Check the date period: it should match the one you selected in your Analytics profile. To properly populate our data schema, we need to break the data by day, since we have a ga:date column. Then export the data to .csv format.

using ad manager or facebook pixell

8. Open your Facebook data file in a new spreadsheet and you will get something like this:

facebook ads file

9. Transmit the data from this Facebook file into the Google Analytics schema file. Make sure all columns are filled correctly. You may see the Google Analytics source and medium in the Google Analytics descriptions. It’s always the same thing – the source is facebook.com, and the medium is the cost-per-click for advertising campaigns. Cost data is the amount that has been spent. And unique clicks are displayed in the click column. 

If something goes wrong, Google Analytics will send you an error message. Or two dozen. Who knows?

10. Export the spreadsheet file also in .csv format. Now go back to the Data Import Data menu in the Admin section and click the Upload File button. Download the spreadsheet file you just exported and wait for it to be checked.

11. Now Google Analytics will show you what is wrong. Edit the requested columns if they do not allow you to continue. Once you upload the file without errors, Google Analytics will process your data throughout the day.

12. If you did everything correctly, you’ll get back to where you started.

get the information

This is a way how you can import your Facebook advertising costs into Google Analytics.

Conclusion

No matter how good Facebook advertising campaigns analytics are, nothing could be better than Google Analytics when it comes to full tracking and understanding conversions, from the initial delivery and the path that the user went through to the conversion. The more you can understand why conversions occur, the more you can optimize your campaign, and also see how each campaign fits into the big picture.

FAQ

What is CPC in Google analytics?

CPC stands for cost per link. It is one of the mediums that you might be referred through to a website. Some other mediums include: organic, which is when the reach is unpaid and actively searched for, referral, email, a custom medium you have created, or none, which is direct traffic.

How to set up Google Analytics for Instagram?

Well, it is very simple, and once you have set those trackable links, you can pull ou data anytime someone clicks on the links in your story or bio. 
Go to your google analytics profile and click on “Acquisition” in the left menu, to view your analytics. 
Select “campaigns” and then all campaigns to view the traffic and revenue coming from each UTM tag.

Track Your Facebook Campaign in Google Analytics with Dewzilla

Tracking Facebook ads in Google Analytics it’s a complex process, that requires some time and effort, so relying on the professional team – great decision. Dewzilla is exactly that company, which knows how to track your Facebook advertising campaign and what to do to improve the results of your business. Our experienced marketers will analyze each stage of your campaign and provide you with the smart solutions of your “weak” sides. By analyzing the GA reports they will understand what works and whatnot. Since that, the main efforts and money will be concentrated on the most effective ways that lead to conversions. Also, Dewzilla will bring more traffic to your website and increase your business awareness.     

Contact us and our managers will provide you with all the details 

HELLO@DEWZILLA.COM

(447) 366-491-118    

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