The Billboard Effect in Video Marketing
The billboard effect, also known as View-Through Conversions, or Facebook Attribution Window, is a way of measuring conversions on your online ads, even if the conversion happens after the viewer have clicked your ad and left without converting. Maybe the user checked out your store and came back at a later point to convert. This would then still be counted as a conversion caused by your Facebook ad, even though it wasn’t directly responsible for that conversion. Kind of like if you see a billboard on the side of the highway and shopping at that store the next week. Considering the Attribution Window and View-Through Conversions when dealing with video ads on Facebook and YouTube is a must for marketers who want to have a good understanding of how their online video ads are affecting their revenue.
The (Perceived) Problem With View-Through Conversion and Attribution Window
How long the View-Through Conversion window should be, has been a source of controversy in the marketing world, since Google decided that the VTC time window should be 30 days. Now that is a rather long conversion window, what is to say that a conversion that happens on January 29 is a result of an ad that was served to a YouTube visitor on December 31st. Facebook counts this a bit different. The Facebook terminology for VTC is “Attribution Window” and the standard time frame is one day after viewing ad and 28 days after clicking on an ad. What this means for video ads on Facebook is that if a Facebook user sees your video ad, but doesn’t interact with it (click it, like it, comment on it, share it), a conversion is counted if the viewer converts on your site within one day, no matter how they came to your site. If they did interact with you ad, a 28-day time frame is applied.
The problem with long VTC or AW time frames is that it might skew the data you acquire from your ad campaigns. With a conversion window as wide as 28 or 30 days, the number of conversions shown for Google and Facebook ads can be said to be artificially inflated, thus casting doubt on the value of the conversion metric as a whole.
How (and Why) To Change Attribution Window of Your Facebook Video Ads
On Facebook, it is possible to change the attribution window to be shorter (the shortest VTC in AdWords/YouTube is 30 days). To do this you have to go to Facebook Adverts Manager > Reports > Customize Columns, and change the attribution window in the lower right corner.
The benefit of changing the attribution window of your Facebook ads is that you can stop worrying if the conversion metrics are skewed or not, and focus on the stickiness and effectiveness of your video ads. For example, if you are driving a top-of-the-funnel video campaign for something that has a long decision process (e.g a home theater) and then drive other ads to the same viewer (more on this later) which are more geared towards the middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel, a long VTC/AW would then mess up the conversion metrics and you wouldn’t know which video ad resulted in the conversion. Let’s say you’re running a full funnel video marketing campaign on Facebook. If you don’t change the Attribution Window, how will you know which one of your video ads actually made a viewer convert on your site? Maybe viewers are converting on your second video already, not the third? Change the AW to a smaller time frame for the first video ads and keep the longer period for the last video.
Direct Traffic and Organic Search – More Than Conversions
If you’re running an aggressive brand awareness campaign, conversions might not be the only thing you want to look at. If you’re using a short Facebook Attribution Window, you might think that your video ad campaigns are useless. No conversions = waste of money, right? Well, maybe not. Go to Google Analytics and see how your direct traffic and branded search traffic have changed after your video campaign. See a spike in those metrics after your campaign? Have your conversions from these numbers grown as well? Unless you’ve run several campaigns during the same time, chances are that people have seen your ad, waited until after your Attribution Window have expired, and then come back to convert.
You need to consider all of these metrics when calculating the ROI of your video ad campaigns, especially on Facebook. What Facebook Attribution Window do you use for your Facebook ad campaigns? Let us know in the comments!