Understanding Facebook View-Through Conversions

Many Facebook advertisers don’t realize that view-through conversions are a thing. Ads Manager reports on conversions that happen within 7-days of clicking or 1-day of viewing your ad without clicking, by default (Facebook ads attribution).

In other words, your ad can get credit for a conversion without anyone clicking on it. Let’s talk about when this might happen and why it can be controversial.

When Might This Happen?

The general scenario for a view-through conversion is simple:

  1. Your ad was served to a user
  2. That user may have seen it and even engaged with the ad without clicking to your website
  3. Later that day, the user Googled or went directly to your website
  4. The user then bought the product you were selling

The user in this example was served the ad, didn’t click, and then converted on your website within a day.

Of course, Meta is the only one who can tie these things together. It’s Meta that knows who saw the ad and it’s Meta who knows (due to the pixel) who converted. URL parameters and Google Analytics wouldn’t be able to report this.

While the scenario above is easiest to explain, the following scenario may be most common:

  1. You are running a remarketing campaign that targets someone who is on your email list
  2. An ad was served, but the targeted user may not have noticed or engaged with it
  3. Since that user is on your email list, you send them an email (coincidentally) later that day
  4. The user clicks a link in your email, goes to your website and makes a purchase
  5. Since Facebook knows the user saw your ad and can connect that user to your website, attribution is given

In this scenario, the ad may have promoted something that had nothing to do with your email or what the user ultimately bought.

Why Are View-Through Conversions Controversial?

It’s probably not surprising that view-through conversions have long been controversial. Even pre-iOS 14, clients were skeptical of Ads Manager results which always seemed to report more conversions than other sources.

The question has been whether a view-through conversion is as valuable as a click-through conversion. It’s certainly not, but you can make the argument that the view contributed to the conversion. How much it contributed will depend upon the situation, as described above.

Now, I’ve historically not had an issue with view-through conversions. That has changed recently, primarily because there’s no way to separate view-through and click-through conversions in reporting. This was previously possible, of course, but Facebook removed the compare windows feature with iOS 14+ changes.

(NOTE: There’s actually a buried way that will still allow you to break down your results with and without view-through conversions. Read my post here.)

I’ll have more to say on this topic in a separate post!

Your Turn

What are your thoughts on view-through conversions?

Let me know in the comments below!