I did a video a while back all about some alternatives to Facebook Ads tracking (you can watch that here), and I thought it would be helpful to make a blog post about it as well!
In this post, I’m going to cover a few key elements of Facebook Ads tracking. After all, Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms out there, so it’s a good idea to understand how to make the most of your Facebook ad campaigns.
I’m going to walk you through what the problem with Facebook Ads tracking is, and how this will affect your ads. It’s not all doom and gloom though, because I’m then going to share some current solutions that can help you bypass these obstacles, as well as some apps, tools, third-party software, and more that I would personally recommend as an ad agency owner myself.
This should help you come up with a solid Facebook Ads tracking system so that you can leverage Facebook advertising tools and make them work for you. Having reliable analytics tools can help you drastically improve your ad campaigns’ performance.
My company, Snowball Creations, is a UK-based paid ads agency specialising in multiple niches. My personal area of expertise is how to make the most of experimentation, and obviously, tracking is the most important factor when it comes to this.
I’ve seen countless Facebook Ads newbies make some common mistakes with their Facebook Ads tracking, and I’m here to help you avoid those pitfalls.
So, what's the problem?
If you’re running Facebook Ads, you’ll know that Facebook has its own tracking system in place. So you might be wondering, what’s the big deal? Why can’t you just use Facebook tracking? The answer is that it doesn’t work. Or at least, it doesn’t work particularly well. That’s why we use alternatives.
Why doesn't Facebook Ads tracking work?
The simple answer is that it’s broken. Despite your best marketing efforts, you might not be getting accurate data about your Facebook campaigns. You might be wondering why Facebook doesn’t fix this issue themselves. After all, they certainly have the resources to do it.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to like the answer. It’s all about politics. There’s a lot of drama in the Facebook industry regarding privacy, and they’ve received a lot of bad press because of this.
This means that, despite being massive, Facebook is handicapped. It has a limited ability to follow its users during their journey from Facebook to your website, not to mention everything that happens in between. You might be missing out on a lot of valuable data about your target audience simply because the Facebook Ads reporting tool isn’t performing as it should.
How does this affect your business?
Facebook’s broken tracking system will harm your business because you won’t have enough data to make informed decisions when you create ads and paid campaigns. If Facebook isn’t properly tracking your users, you won’t know which good users are coming from Facebook to buy products or sign up for services. And the opposite is also true, because you won’t be able to separate the bad traffic from the good.
This is all essential information that you need if you want to make smart decisions regarding your ads in order to increase your return on investment.
In summary, there’s less data following your customers thanks to recent iOS changes, so to access that valuable information, you need to figure out other ways of getting data through this flow, which is what we’ll get to in a minute.
Is that the only issue?
By now you know that the main issue with the current Facebook Ads tracking system is that a lot of data gets lost through Facebook. That in itself is already a big issue, but it’s not the only one.
Facebook has also limited its attribution window from twenty-eight days to seven days. In the past, if someone clicked on your ads, Facebook would track them for twenty-eight days. This means that people who took longer to decide on making a purchase would still be tracked, so you would know that they come from Facebook.
An attribution window of seven days, on the other hand, is very short. If someone takes more than seven days to make a purchase, you lose that data, because Facebook only looks at the past seven days of data.
This means that Facebook could show that you are making zero sales despite a solid ad spend, when in reality, you’re making multiple sales and they just aren’t being tracked.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should be turning off your Facebook Ads tracking! You still need to have as much data as possible. It just means you need to get creative with how you get this data.
Facebook advertising tracking alternatives
Now that you have a better idea of some of the issues with tracking your Facebook ad campaigns and why you need to work on getting it resolved, I’m going to share quite a few alternatives.
You can then decide which option seems like the best fit for your business. Hopefully, this will help you get a clearer picture of your conversion tracking.
I have good news and bad news for this. The good news is it’s the most affordable option, so it’s great for those with limited ad spend. The bad news is that it’s also the most difficult and high-effort option.
To use Google Analytics to track your Facebook advertising, you will need to set up UTM parameters. You can Google “UTM Link Builder” and you should find tools to let you build your links. You can then create ad campaigns and add information such as the source, medium, and more.
This way, when the traffic comes to your website, you will be able to attribute your different sales to different Facebook ad campaigns, provided your Google Analytics is set up properly.
This is a lot of effort, as mentioned, because you need to understand UTM links and create proper reports in Google Analytics. But it is a built-in system that’s really affordable when compared to other options, and it will give you clean results. So if you’re willing to put in the work, it can be well worth it!
Google Analytics also has a thirty-day attribution window, which means it solves that issue as well, and generally speaking, it’s great at capturing your data and attributing it back to Facebook. Most companies use Google Analytics for Google Ads anyway, so integrating your Facebook tracking into this could be an effective solution.
The next Facebook advertising alternative is AnyTrack. At my agency, this is one of our go-to analytics tools when it comes to smaller clients because it has a lower cost – so low that we include it in our pricing.
AnyTrack’s attribution window is essentially infinite and it gives you the opportunity to clearly see your conversions from Facebook, Google, and other traffic sources so that you know where your traffic’s coming from.
It’s also a very smart system with loads of intuitive features such as integrating all the data together and sending conversion data back to Facebook in order to improve Facebook’s data sets.
It basically has a few extra features that you won’t find in Google Analytics, and the cost isn’t too steep. It’s a great entry-level tracking tool for beginners who might not have the budget for some of the other options on this list.
Another Facebook Ads tracking alternative is Triple Whale. It’s been around for a good while and it’s super effective. It also has a bunch of fancy features. I won’t go into all of them, but one of the key things is its ability to break down your A/B creative testing so that you can see your analytics in a whole new light.
Another big plus of Triple Whale is the fact that it’s built specifically for shopping, making it one of the best options out there for e-commerce businesses using Shopify. There are multiple package options, so you can easily pick one that suits your needs.
It is relatively expensive though, so if you have a very small ad spend budget, it’s probably not worth it at this point, although I would highly recommend looking at it for companies who have larger ad budgets.
The final option for tracking your Facebook Ads campaigns that I’m going to walk you through is Northbeam. Northbeam is another industry leader right alongside Triple Whale, and just as with Triple Whale, it’s great at what it does.
It has interesting analytics and it also tracks lifetime value and more. It’s also not as focused on Shopify, so it works with WordPress and other platforms, making it a versatile option.
My ad managers and I prefer to use this alongside Triple Whale or AnyTrack, just to ensure that we get as much data as possible. This also sends conversion data back to Facebook while giving you a long attribution window. This makes it a good option for brands in niches like the skincare industry, where you’ll likely have customers returning multiple times.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of Facebook Ads tracking, why it’s not effective, and how you can improve upon it with some alternatives. Facebook Ads tracking really shouldn’t be underestimated, and we use it for most of our clients.
I would highly suggest that you get at least one of these options in place for your business, especially since these all offer a great customer experience.
And if you need help with paid ads on Facebook, Google, or other platforms, book a sales call with me via the form below for a free audit of your existing strategies! Having a Facebook ad manager can help you in many ways, since they can set up the Facebook Pixel and even help with your advertising on other social media platforms as well.