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We all know that the user’s journey from “need” to “solution” is getting more and more complex. It’s no longer linear (or maybe it never was), and that’s starting to cause serious tracking issues for marketers. “Who deserves credit for the final conversion?” is an important question to ask, but often a very difficult one to answer.

Credit: Facebook

Marketing, as a whole, is about making a meaningful change in someone and building a connection with a customer. That’s why it’s so important to make sure we have effective measurement tools. To have meaningful data, you need accurate data. And in order to get a clear picture of how our online advertising impacts real business outcomes, we need to see the fuller picture. Essentially, we need a solution that accurately measures the connections that count so that we can better drive the desired business result.

Multi-touch attribution has been a big discussion of late and as a result, myriad solutions and SAAS products have cropped up. However, these have mostly been expensive and/or incredibly difficult to implement. Facebook seeks to change all this with its new publicly-released Facebook Attribution: A new measurement tool that’s free to use and designed to give marketers a more holistic view of the customer journey, both on and off Facebook.”

The Basics

Facebook’s new attribution tool is designed to help all businesses, no matter their budget, determine how effective their advertising is across multiple platforms. Using this data-driven tool, you can see how your ads fare across Facebook, Instagram, AdWords, and all Facebook-owned properties like the audience networks. Ideally, if you can gain a better understanding of your audience’s digital journey, you can then use the reports in the dashboard to learn about which devices your customers engaged with your ads on and also where they converted.

To help piece together the cross-channel customer journey, you’ll have to add each platform to the attribution tool. Unfortunately, the list is relatively short right now. Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and many others are still not available, but reportedly are on the roadmap.

Credit: Facebook

That being said, Facebook and Google are the two major players in the advertising space right now, so understanding the user journey between those two channels will still be very valuable for the time being.

The Good

It’s Free: With how complicated the user journey is becoming, multi-touch attribution is becoming crucial. But the cost of these attribution tools typically leaves small- and medium-sized business in a tough spot. Facebook’s free tool is a huge win in that regard. Having a free option is certainly better than no options, and it’s a great opportunity for smaller brands to design an attribution plan without requiring a huge monetary investment. Should a brand decide to invest in a larger tool like VisualIQ down the road, they’ll be well-positioned to do so.

It’s Facebook-Friendly: Having the platform as a tool within Facebook is extremely handy. No extra logins, or separate sites. Everything lives within Facebook, and anyone with access to the account can view it.

Credit: Facebook

The Bad

It Shouldn’t Be Judge & Jury: One thing that makes me personally very nervous is when a platform is positioning itself as objective. The data may be 100% accurate, but with multi-touch attribution, there are always a certain amount of assumptions made. As a result, I think Facebook may give itself more credit in certain attribution models than is truly due. A healthy bit of skepticism when approaching the findings may be a good thing.

Limited Networks Are Available: As stated above, there are a very limited amount of networks and no timeline for when other networks (like Twitter and Linkedin) will be in the system.

The Conclusion

Facebook’s new attribution tool is worth checking out – even if you only use it to compare Facebook’s own placements to find out which one is bringing in the lowest cost conversions overall. Instagram, for instance, might have a high CPA, but if 50% of your audience is seeing an Instagram ad before converting, it may be worth increasing your investment there. I think it’s an especially great option for companies if other attribution tools are too expensive. I will always recommend investing in more heavy-duty attribution tools for accuracy’s sake, but when that’s too heavy a cost to bear, it’s beneficial to brands to start their attribution journey with a solid, free solution like this.