“When we use AdWords or Facebook Ads, we’re basically stuck with the reports they provide,” said Simon Trudeau, a growth analyst and digital analytics director at Breather. “We need to trust it, but we can’t see the calls behind it, so we just pray that the numbers are good.”
Part of the issue is that Facebook and Google data reside in their own little silos, and manually downloading the reports and aggregating the data by campaign is the sort of thing that makes engineers slowly lose their marbles.
But without being able to combine Facebook and Google data with the rest of its customer data, it was too complicated to run the sort of queries and create the arbitrarily sophisticated attribution models Breather was looking for.
For example, basing performance on conversions doesn’t work for Breather because all bookings aren’t created equal and the state of a conversion can change over time, said Trudeau.
If a user updates or cancels a booking – or decides to invite 20 people to come along and use the workspace – that impacts the conversion’s value. And if a conversion happens several months later, there’s no reliable way to connect that back to a particular ad or channel.
“It’s possible to send data via a conversion pixel back to Google or Facebook for a single downstream result or purchase,” Reinhardt said. “But advertisers need to see the full funnel.”
Since combining AdWords and Facebook data with the rest of its internal database, Breather learned a few things and has made several big changes to the way it allocates digital ad spend.
Breather discovered that Facebook is far more useful for brand awareness, for example, while AdWords is better for acquisitions. Breather’s previous Facebook strategy had been almost solely focuses on acquisition.
“After looking at the data, we saw that people coming from Facebook were actually activating 45 days later,” Trudeau said.
Breather also discovered its most valuable users were coming in from paid search.
“For us, we saw that paid search is superior to other paid channels,” he said. “But we only know that because we were able to look at the actual revenue generated from those campaigns, not only when the conversion was happening, but also after that.”
Combining Facebook and Google campaign data also solves the thorny problem of duplicative conversion credit taking, because Facebook and Google reporting doesn’t always match. Both might take credit for the same conversion, like when a user clicks through a Facebook ad and then conducts a Google search later.
“At least when you have all of the data in one place, you can dedupe between them and decide which platform should get credit for what,” Reinhardt said. “Figuring out which attribution model makes sense should depend on the company and the specific business model.”