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Don't Be Confused About The Conversion Window

Tim Burd author profile image
confused conversion window featured
confused conversion window featured

Editor's Note: This post has been updated with new links and content.
Original Publication Date: October 9, 2017

This is a quick guide for effectively understanding the conversion window on Facebook.

There is a lot of confusion around the conversion window, even amongst experienced marketers and media buyers. This is understandable due to the difficult language Facebook can use at times to explain its features. Not all salespeople and marketers are good at the tech side of things and this can cause a huge disconnect and disrupt strategies.

In this article, we will discuss Conversion Windows and how they interact with Attribution Windows and optimization goals.

What Is A Conversion Window?

A Conversion Window is a time frame selected by the advertiser to help the Facebook algorithm learn and optimize.

The ad set learns from the data it receives within that time frame and optimizes your ad delivery to find the best converting people, from the data it gathered.

Adset Level Conversion Window

By now you should be familiar with this UI. It is the delivery section at the ad set level on a Facebook ad.

The drop-down on the conversion window section above gives you the option to select specific two different time frames:

  • 1 Day
  • 7 Day

Each of these time frames is further broken down into two distinct actions:

  • View Through
  • Click Through

The combination of these two parameters gives rise to data attribution.

We've already covered data attribution in Facebook ads to a certain extent in another post, but data attribution comes in a combination of either Click-Through Attribution...

  • 1 Day Click
  • 7 Day Click

...or they come as Click & View-Through Attribution.

  • 1 Day Click Or 1 Day View
  • 7 Day Click Or 1 Day View

At this point, it's important to remember data attribution window is not the same as the attribution window you can select in your ads manager dashboard.

Attribution windows are also different from Conversion Windows. They share some similarities, but each has a different purpose.

What Is An Attribution Window?

An Attribution Window, on the other hand, is the length of time through which an action will be tracked and attributed to a particular Ad set.

For example, someone can see your Facebook ad and make the purchase within 24 hours or within 7 days or even after 7 days.

However, when your lead does make the purchase, the final event pixel will be attributed to the ad set because the event of purchase was caused directly due to your ad.

Facebook will track a lead for up to 28 days from clicking or viewing your ad and attribute the action to the ad set that triggered it.

You can find and select the attribution window from your ads manager dashboard in four steps.

1: Open Custom Columns in Your Ads Manager Dashboard

opening custom columns for attribution window

Locate Attribution Window Settings

Attribution Window Settings

3: Select A Window Comparison

Attribution Window Comparison

Analyze The Data In Ads Manager Dashboard

Ads Manager Dashboard

*As you can see, the data above is looking back over a 7-day view and 7-day click.

Conversion Windows & Optimization

If you take anything away from this article then this section should be it.

conversion window debate

Conversion Windows are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for optimizing your ad sets. It is the window of opportunity your ad set has to utilize an attributed event for further optimization.

In this article, we've seen Facebook state that advertisers should get 50 of the conversion events they're optimizing for per week to have a chance at optimizing correctly. 

Optimization and conversion windows as closely linked. How? I'll explain it with two examples that should make this a whole lot simpler!

Situation A: 1-Day Conversion Window

Consider you are running a high budget Website Conversion campaign with a Conversion Window of 1-Day, optimized for the Purchase Event.

You run it for a week, starting Monday 00:00, and get 50 purchases within that week as follows:

  • Monday: 8 purchases, 23 abandoned carts
  • Tuesday: 3 purchases + 3 cart recoveries, 17 abandoned carts
  • Wednesday: 5 purchases + 6 cart recoveries, 21 abandoned carts
  • Thursday: 6 purchases + 3 cart recoveries, 18 abandoned carts
  • Friday: 5 purchases + 4 cart recoveries, 15 abandoned carts
  • Saturday: 6 purchases + 2 cart recoveries, 19 abandoned carts
  • Sunday: 7 purchases + 2 cart recoveries, 17 abandoned carts

Now, from this above data, we can conclude that the campaign crossed the 50 conversions/week benchmark and actually got 60 within 7 days.

But, when you segment the data you can clearly see that out of the 60 purchases, 20 of them were cart recoveries the following day!

Since we worked with a conversion window of 1-Day, only 40 out of the 60 conversions will count towards optimization.

Cart recoveries happened the NEXT day, which is at least 24 hours AFTER the prospect viewed/clicked the ad, placing it outside the 1-Day conversion window.

Whatever conversion window you choose, the conversion MUST happen WITHIN that window for it to count towards optimization.

Otherwise you might reach 50 conversions for the week but if the conversions fall outside your chosen window then you would have paid $$$ for conversions that won't optimize your ad set, i.e deadweight conversions.

Situation B: 7-Day Conversion Window

Let's go with the same exact data and preparation, but with a 7-day conversion window selected.

  • Monday: 8 purchases, 23 abandoned carts
  • Tuesday: 3 purchases + 3 cart recoveries, 17 abandoned carts
  • Wednesday: 5 purchases + 6 cart recoveries, 21 abandoned carts
  • Thursday: 6 purchases + 3 cart recoveries, 18 abandoned carts
  • Friday: 5 purchases + 4 cart recoveries, 15 abandoned carts
  • Saturday: 6 purchases + 2 cart recoveries, 19 abandoned carts
  • Sunday: 7 purchases + 2 cart recoveries, 17 abandoned carts

As we calculated, this ad set has a total of 60 conversion events.

This time, however, every single conversion event will count towards optimization since all of them fell within the 7-day window, i.e the conversions happened within 7 days of a prospect clicking/viewing the advert.

Conversion Window Facebook

Straight From Facebook

conversion window remember

So Remember This: Your ad set might get attributed to a conversion event but if that event didn't occur within the conversion window, then it won't count towards optimization for that ad set.

Why Use 1-Day Conversion Windows At All?

This is a very relevant question, and it has no clear answer.

Facebook recommends, and we agree, that a 7-Day window is better in almost all situations. It gives the ad set a longer window to use the events for optimization.

At the end of the day, it's a strategic debate you need to have with yourself when making a decision.

Facebook can only track and attribute causal events, that are events that take place as a result of your ad. It cannot track or attribute coincidental events, which are events that would have taken place with or without your ad anyway.

If your site is getting massive organic traffic and sales daily then you can consider using a 1-Day conversion window to retain clearer data on your ad spend.

I run 7-day windows for all my clients and personal campaigns. At the end of the day, however, it's a strategy-based decision.

Delivery Versus Reporting

Understanding the two parameters of delivery and reporting will solidify your understanding of the windows.

Conversion Windows are based on the delivery system and the Attribution Windows are a reporting parameter.

Reporting parameters allow you to read, analyze, and store data.

Breaking down the demographics of age, gender, and location, as well as cost per actions, are reporting parameters and do not help you optimize your campaigns, but they help you read the data that your campaigns gather.

The attribution window is similar. Facebook will track conversions for up to 28 days from the clicking/viewing of the ad by the lead. You can break down the 28 days into 1-day, 7-days, and 28-days to better understand when an action took place after the click/view of an advert.

Delivery parameters are systems that analyze incoming data on an ad and ad set level to optimize the delivery of ads in real-time. You can read these in the reporting section of your ads manager dashboard but their primary function is to drive results and optimize your ad sets.

Controlling these systems will have a direct impact on your overall campaign. Some delivery parameters are bids, placements, interest targeting, and conversion windows.

*Conversion Windows are based on delivery that optimizes your ad sets
*Attribution Windows are based on reporting for you to read collected data

Closing The Conversion Window

Learning about conversion windows isn't easy. It can take a lot of testing and research to understand how it impacts your audience.

The delivery system in itself is a super complicated machine learning-based algorithm. And Facebook has not been the most transparent organization when it comes to these important details either.

While this is an introductory course into conversion windows and how they relate to attribution and ad set optimization, it is by no means definitive.

But you should have a solid baseline to help you decide which window to use while setting up your campaigns, and how to budget accordingly.

You need to use every single feature on Facebook in strategic tandem to produce extraordinary results. It's all part of a single marketing machine.
And, as always, Test Everything.

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About Tim Burd

Tim Burd is a public speaker, consultant, and serial entrepreneur who’s been called the “Godfather of Facebook Advertising” for his many years of supporting and empowering digital marketers.

Tim’s Facebook Ad Buyers Group is the largest community of online advertisers in the world. He is the co-founder and CEO of AdLeaks, an exclusive subscription-based community and resource for digital marketing and business growth.

In addition to hosting Mastermind workshops and events, Tim has been featured on publications and platforms ranging from Forbes and Bloomberg to Buzzfeed and Bravo.

Tim Burd lives in Newport Beach, California, and works with clients worldwide as a high-end advertising consultant and business development expert.