By Chiara Padovan and Paul Gallagher

In the attribution landscape nowadays, it is not uncommon to use different platforms to measure your media performance. However, it can get hard to combine the data sets together and get a holistic overview of how the different channels are performing. Read this article to understand how to use Google Analytics and Facebook Attribution data together, understanding the true impact of social on sales and the other digital channels! 

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The Digital Walled Garden

When talking about Facebook and Google within the same sentence, it isn’t long before the concept of Walled Gardens comes up. In short, a walled garden (typically an advertising platform), limits access to their data to those advertising within it, and heavily restricts the sharing of this data into 3rd party platforms. Walled Gardens have been a challenge for advertisers for many years when trying to obtain one single view of digital media performance.

As covered in previous blogs, one of the biggest areas that suffers in accuracy is Paid Social and how Paid Social's attribution looks in other analytics platforms. This is because Facebook currently does not always allow impression-data to be shared into other analytics platforms, such as the Google-owned ones. As a consequence, if you’re using Analytics 360 for your web analytics, you’ll be limited by having no Facebook impressions included in any reports which aim to answer questions about your customer journey, and crucially meaning your data-driven attribution figures do not take into account an often large proportion of media spend.

Facebook Attribution: A New Hope

However, with the introduction of Facebook Attribution, this problem is partially solved in that we now have a view of data-driven attribution performance for Facebook (and Instagram too!). The arrival of Facebook Attribution has been welcomed within the attribution landscape as it stands as a new and free measurement tool that allows you to incorporate social impression data alongside other channels. Facebook Attribution allows you to assign credit across various publishers, devices and channels by leveraging your Facebook pixel and its recorded conversion data. Facebook Attribution, at a minimum, will help stem this gap of Paid Social in the data-driven attribution measurement sphere.

Nevertheless, all that glitters is not gold. In fact, the two platforms (Google Analytics and Facebook Attribution) cannot be linked together. That means that you still need to use a Facebook platform to measure your social activity, and a Google one to measure all the rest. But do not worry! We have a solution! 

Path to Conversion

The typical digital path to conversion, with Google & Facebook (with their walled gardens) ever present

But Before You Start: Quick Wins to Kick Off Your Attribution Journey

First of all, before you start to try and develop your holistic view, you need to make sure that your data source is reliable. In other words, before starting an attribution project, there are a number of really important aspects to consider such as naming convention, taxonomy, ad tech links and many others. Make sure you cover everything when onboarding your attribution solutiononboarding your attribution solution.

Second, we recommend you to not jump immediately to a complex cross-channel and cross-platform solution, rather to proceed step by step. Try to get familiar with single channel and cross-channel optimisations first, then educate the rest of your team to attribution, getting everybody on board.  

Making the Impossible Possible: Two Digital Platforms – One View

Let’s now talk about the methodology that can allow you to combine Google Analytics and Facebook data together.

This is a very new and relatively simple process that has started being applied here at Merkle to give guidance on how to reallocate your budget, based on channels' contributions. The innovative aspect of it is that it's combining both Paid Social and other digital channels' performance all in one place, therefore giving actionable and punctual insights that take into account this channel.

In short, by using this process we are taking the two sets of figures from each platform, and combining them in a mathematically appropriate way to guide budget allocations and start better understanding channel performance. In doing this, the Analytics 360 figures are re-weighted to deliver a closer reflection of cross-channel performance, which gives Facebook an appropriate value.

There are three main important aspects that we would like to highlight on this process:

1. The amount of conversions we are reporting on does not change. That means that we are not adding on top any extra conversion, but we are re-weighting the contribution of the different channels including social too

2. This methodology takes in consideration both clicks and impressions. In other words, it is an innovative and easy way to include social impressions impact as well

3. Note that this is to guide budget allocations and it shouldn't be used as single source of truth. The information you gain from this methodology should feed into a wider attribution journey, which involves tests and incrementality insights

Test your Channel Weightings!

This method is a great first step in developing a single source of truth for your channel performance, but only paints part of the picture. As you probably know, today’s attribution scenario is limping a bit. GDPR restrictions, ITP, etc. are challenging the current digital landscape, and even with the most updated technology is getting harder and harder to understand the real incremental value of a channel.

Again, do not worry! We have a solution for this as well: testing! As advertisers we need to be prepared to set up robust tests that can truly answer the incrementality of a channel. Geo-tests, incrementality tests, scenario planners for budget recommendations, and others are all tools that can answers questions like: am I investing in the right channel? Which channel has the most impact? Am I optimising to the right data? To learn more about it, discover The Future of Digital Attribution.

Get in touch with one of our Media Science team to learn more about using these two platforms together and about establishing the true incremental value of your digital channels.