Today’s post is by Hanapin Marketing‘s Sean Quadlin.

It’s been about six weeks since Facebook introduced conversion tracking to their interface. As this is Facebook, they do things that are similar enough to AdWords to seem familiar to PPC marketers while still having enough differences to make everything a tiny bit uncanny. It’s like pay-per-click via David Lynch.

And in the same way that even reading synopses of David Lynch movies make me feel weird in my tummy, Facebook conversion tracking causes a bit of uncertainty for those of us who spend a majority of our time in AdWords. As such, I wanted to review some of the aspects of the conversion/action tracking to help put all of your minds at ease.

Conversions vs. Actions

Conversion tracking is only conversion tracking – i.e. it’s all about the pixels that you place on your site. Likes and other Facebook-centric actions don’t count as conversions. They do, however, count as actions, which is the main metric that Facebook reports back on. If you’re on the Campaigns and Ads view, you’ll see actions.  Here’s how Facebook defines an action:

Includes all actions taken by people within 24 hours after viewing your ad or sponsored story, or within 28 days after clicking on it. You’ll only see data here if you’re promoting a Page, event or app.

Includes all actions taken by people within 24 hours after viewing your ad or sponsored story, or within 28 days after clicking on it. You’ll only see data here if you’re promoting a Page, event or app.

Here’s what that translates to if you look in detail at your ad’s performance:

facebook ad performance

If your advertising account is an admin on your main Facebook page (which I assume is the standard way to operate a Facebook ads account), likes, link clicks and even page photo views are going to count as actions.

If you need to report back about direct-response metrics, this means that you’ll have to run an Actions by Impression Time report to filter out the Facebook stuff from the stuff that occurs on your website. Which is a bit of a bummer.

I happen to manage an account on Facebook that isn’t an admin on the main page, as we’re concerned only with direct response with the specific budget I’m working with. It means we lose out of some of the really cool social stuff on Facebook, but it also means that I know straightaway how my ads are doing. I really enjoy working on this client, as it doesn’t take into account the full picture, and this is an instance where not having the full picture is a good thing (at least in my opinion).

Breaking down the reports

facebook ad performance detail

Both of the screengrabs above reference the full actions report, which is just another name for the Actions by Impression Time report. If you click on that link, you can see how your ads are doing with some specificity. Here are the headers that you might be able to expect on that report:

facebook conversion report

Now, I say that you might be able to see them because if you don’t have any conversions within a certain time range, then you’re not going to see that column.  Facebook’s help page for conversions says that they track any conversions that happen within 1, 7, or 28 days of a click along with 1, 7, or 28 days of viewing an ad.

As you can see above, we don’t have any Post-Imp conversions from 1-7 days or 7-28 days. If there’s no column, you don’t have them. (This has led to some confusion on other posts of mine, so I wanted to clarify.)

(Also {sorry for the avalanche of parentheses}, the muddy headers bother me as a lifelong quibbler.  If someone converts on Day 7, are they filed under 1 to 7 or 7 to 28?  Just make the third column 8 to 28 days.  This bothers me a surprising amount.)

The time frame for post-impression conversions is also different from what Facebook tracks for actions. Actions are only tracked for one day after viewing an ad (as opposed to 28 days). I’ve yet to see a post-impression conversion for anything over one day, which means one of two things: 1. The Facebook help center has this detail wrong about conversion tracking, or 2. User interest following an impression fades away very quickly in the land of Facebook.

Cross-device attribution – where’s the data?

What I was really excited about (and what this post was initially intended to be written about) was cross-device attribution. Since Facebook users are logged in, FB can tell who clicked an ad on a mobile device and later converted on their desktop.

While this is exciting in theory, I can’t actually find a way to access any type of device data in Facebook.  I may be a dummy, so there’s a (strong) chance this I’m just missing it. If that’s the case, please let me know in the comments! But if that information in fact isn’t available, why would Facebook brag about having it? If they can’t give us any data about cross-device conversions, why are they telling us about that feature at all? Don’t get us all excited and then hold out on us like that.

Data quality: Facebook vs. GA

Finally, since conversion tracking is a new feature, I wanted to somehow vet it. Luckily enough, FBPPC has a previous post (whose author is a bit of a shameful self-promoter) that allowed me to track Facebook conversions via Google Analytics. Here’s how performance measures up between the two sources:


conversion data fb

Google Analytics

conversion data ga

GA says I have 82 leads, while Facebook is reporting 91 post-click lead submissions.  This is close enough for me to give a positive review to the new service. Analytics is tracking all of the other sources, so that difference of nine leads is well within tolerance for people that converted via other sources but still had Facebook as a part of their process. GA also gives me the ability to see that five of my 82 conversions were from mobile devices, which is something that (at least to my knowledge) Facebook lacks at the moment.

It seems like Facebook is trying a bit harder to make things better for advertisers, so I’m hopeful that in the near future we’ll have some visibility into cross-device performance. That’s what I was most excited about when conversion tracking was announced, and it’s the most disappointing thing I’ve experienced since implementing.  Otherwise, things are looking up. More data is, in the immortal words of Martha Stewart, a good thing.

How do these changes strike you guys?  Are there any annoyances or triumphs that you’ve experienced with conversion tracking?

sean quadlin hanapin– Sean Quadlin is an Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing and a writer for  When he’s not at the office, you can find him in the company of his beloved TiVo.


  1. Ryan March 19th, 2013

    Thanks for the article!

    I’m waiting for the day they put specific user actions into Power Editor. It’s not convenient switching between the two interfaces on the same ad platform.

  2. Sean April 4th, 2013

    Whenever that happens it will be a great day. At least they’re making progress on a lot of this stuff!

  3. Martin April 2nd, 2013

    I have pasted the conversion code on my external website’s thank you page, and verified that it works. However, I’m sending my facebook traffic that click on my ads to another website first. If they make a purchase, they’re subsequently redirected to the thank you page on another domain, if that makes sense?

    It goes like this:

    Click ad on facebook –> arrive at —> make purchase –> get redirected to thank you page (with conversion code) on

    Would facebook ads be able to track that correctly, over 2 websites like that?

  4. Sean April 4th, 2013

    Hi Martin,

    That’s a really good question. I’m guessing that would work, but it really is a guess. I can’t find anything concrete in Facebook’s help section and don’t have any accounts that go across domains like that.

    They do allow advertisers to share conversion pixels, though, so I assume from that that they are very flexible when it comes to counting conversions.

    I think it’s a good sign that you were able to confirm your code. I’m hoping that it works for you, so please let us know how it goes!


  5. Pradeep April 3rd, 2013

    Apart from the conversion tracking introduction, another useful feature is the “Optimize for Conversions” bidding option available as a result.

    Having implemented this for one of the account, it does generates conversions for reasonably good CPA

  6. Sean April 4th, 2013

    That’s great to hear, Pradeep! We ran that internally for a while and it was great out of the gate, but then it stopped converting so we had to go to max CPC again. I hope that performance stays strong for you.

  7. Cody Damon May 28th, 2013

    Great post Sean. We just began implementing for our nonprofit clients. I was also a bit worried about the data quality, but in two instances that we ran with some small ad buys, we saw pretty comparable data on FB compared to GA.

  8. Sean May 29th, 2013

    Hey Cody,

    That’s great news. I’m glad to hear that the tracking is working out for you! It’s very exciting to see that Facebook is trying so much harder to please advertisers.

  9. guy June 10th, 2013

    can it happen that i have more conversions then clicks on the same campaign?

  10. Sean June 11th, 2013

    It’s definitely possible in theory, although that would set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head. That would mean that you’re getting the same users to convert multiple times off of one click. Facebook tracks conversions up to 28 days later, so if people click and then come back again and again to convert you could pull off more conversions than clicks.

    If that’s happening, good for you! You may also have the conversion pixel placed on a page it shouldn’t be (which is something worth checking). You should be able to tell if the real number of conversions is where Facebook’s telling you (either by looking at your transactions or your leads).

    Also, make sure you aren’t getting “Actions” instead of conversions. Page and photo likes all count, so you could definitely have a high number of actions.

  11. Mark July 17th, 2013

    Thanks for the post, Sean. Just wanted to clarify one thing based on your comment to @guy (“Facebook tracks conversions up to 28 days later, so if people click and then come back again and again to convert you could pull off more conversions than clicks”). Facebook can count >1 conversions per unique user and that conversion can happen anytime within 28 days from the click, correct?

    This could explain, for example, why I see more conversions in Facebook than I do for goal conversions in GA.

  12. Sean July 18th, 2013

    That’s correct, Mark. Users that visit the goal completion page will count as multiple conversions. It’s comparable to Google’s Many-Per-Click conversions if you use AdWords.

    What could be the solution in your case, though, is that Facebook also tracks post-impression conversions. Analytics won’t know to attribute that visit to Facebook since a user has never fired your Analytics code before (they’ve only seen your ad on Facebook). Take a more detailed look at your actions by impression time report and filter out the post impression conversions. That number shouldn’t be higher than what Analytics has.

  13. Jamie April 11th, 2014

    Hi folks,

    Quick question – has anyone had issues with the conversion reporting not being correct? Meaning what I see in Facebook vs. what I see in my form reporting do not match. Actually, the numbers are way off. For example, I see 19 conversions in April while my clients Mach forms is showing 85 conversions. I have emailed FB about this issue but am still waiting to hear back – its been 3 weeks with no response and I have followed up :/

    Does anyone have any insight into this? Thanks!

  14. Karl October 12th, 2014

    Do you know how Conversions from clicks and Conversions from views work together?

    i.e. Will all viewed conversions also be shown in clicked conversions? Or are these separate and should be added together?


Leave a Comment

Sean Quadlin
Sean Quadlin spends his time optimizing, strategizing and pontificating as an Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing and a blogger at PPC Hero, focusing primarily on lead generation. He has a particular fondness for Microsoft Excel and the English language. He studied English at Northwestern University. When he's not at the office, you can find Sean watching a surprising breadth of both high- and low-brow television.