Conversion Lift: Connecting Facebook Campaigns to the Bottom Line

Conversion Lift: Connecting Facebook Campaigns to the Bottom Line

By Stephen Todres • February 10, 2015

We all know it’s easier to track revenue from people who have seen your Facebook ads than, say, a TV commercial. However, Facebook attribution can still be a little thorny, especially for companies that are also advertising heavily on other platforms.

In 2015, Facebook seeks to clear the air when it comes to the effectiveness of their ads by introducing a new way for advertisers to measure the “conversion lift” of their campaigns. This metric goes well beyond simple post-click and post-view conversions by accounting for all the ways people interact with your brand after viewing an ad, even including in-store purchases.

How It Works

In the simplest terms, Facebook runs a controlled test to determine how much your Facebook ads boost or “lift” your bottom line.

As with any experiment, Facebook creates a “target” group of people that will see your ads, and a “holdout” group of those that will not. (Of course, your ads will not necessarily be served to every user in the target group; in fact, it is very unlikely you will reach all of them.)  You get to specify the size of each group, as well as the  duration of the test.

Once the test period is over, you share revenue data with Facebook’s analytics team, which then compares how the two groups performed. Since this data will include all in-store and online purchases over your specified time period, it may take a few weeks to analyze. If your Facebook campaign is successful, you will likely see much stronger sales and engagement from the target group.

Crucially, this lift will come not only from users who clicked on the ads and whose activity could easily be tracked using a pixel, but also (more interestingly) from users who didn’t even make an online purchase. In the past, the latter group of users would have been impossible to identify; however, with conversion lift, you can precisely measure their impact by cross-referencing your in-store purchasers with Facebook impressions.

Putting Conversion Lift to Work

There are several ways to take advantage of this cool new feature. Let’s take a look at three of the most notable ones:

  1. Isolate the impact of marketing across different channels. Imagine you launched a large TV campaign—maybe even a Super Bowl ad. Naturally, after getting so much exposure, you would expect to see a lift in sales, including from your Facebook campaign. The question is: Are your Facebook ads themselves driving additional volume, or is this lift just a result of your TV spot? By splitting up your audience into target and holdout groups, you can assess the extent to which your Facebook ads are substantively contributing to your overall marketing efforts.
  2. Solve the attribution window dilemma. Here’s another hypothetical: Let’s say your ad is served to a Facebook user, who then Googles your brand, clicks on the link to your website, and makes a purchase. Is that transaction attributable to your Facebook ad? (Keep in mind, you have no way of knowing whether the user even noticed your ad, let alone was influenced by it.) And does it matter if the transaction occurred a week after the user was served your ad, instead of the same day? There are no “correct” responses to those questions, but the way you answer them can significantly affect the way you analyze your campaign; after all, you will likely see much “better” results if you use a 28-day post-view attribution window than 1-day post-click. Conversion lift, on the other hand, eliminates this discrepancy by taking a more holistic approach. Instead of basing results on your attribution window, you can simply compare how people who saw your Facebook ads to ones who didn’t.
  3. Optimize your Facebook campaigns around revenue. Not only can conversion lift measure the effectiveness of your Facebook campaign, but it can also help you decide which strategy on Facebook will be the most fruitful. Here’s how: use separate ad accounts to run two different campaigns with distinct target groups so there is no overlap. In one of those accounts, try out a specific strategy (e.g. ads with only oCPM bidding); in the other, launch something completely different (e.g. ads with fixed reach/frequency). By measuring the lift from each of the two accounts, you can see which strategy led to greater lift overall.

Getting Started

The first step is to figure out what you want to accomplish with a conversion lift trial. Are you trying to get a sense of where your Facebook campaign fits into your overall marketing efforts? If so, it might be ideal to run your lift campaign in conjunction with a large-scale campaign on TV or elsewhere. On the other hand, if you would simply like to determine best practices on Facebook, you will need to narrow down exactly what to test (targeting? bid type? placement?) and decide on the optimal way to set up your test.

Once you have determined what you would like to achieve and how, reach out to your designated ad partner or a Facebook representative to get your ad account ready to measure conversion lift.