Facebook ads are already under-represented in the free Google Analytics product for Safari browsers. Attribution across multiple sessions disintegrates as ITP 2.1 resulted in Safari browsing users being reported in Google Analytics as “new” if they do not return to the property in 7 days, whereas they really should be a returning user. Designating a user as new disconnects the actual user (device) from any previous, potentially Facebook advertising referred, sessions.

Facebook ads “can’t get no love” in the free Google Analytics product

TLC sang about it…

The free Google Analytics product also can’t report the impact of Facebook ad impressions on the path to conversion (for all users, not just those using Safari browsers). A paid Analytics 360 license can help Google Analytics see the impact of Facebook ad impressions, but it gets impacted by ITP just like the free product.

ITP 2.2 went one step better in restricting the ability for Google Analytics first party cookies to track relative to a Facebook ad click. When a user comes to your website from a Facebook ad click, the “FBCLID” URL parameter trigger’s ITP 2.2 to apply a tighter 24 hour expiration window to the client ID Google Analytics cookie associated with a user. This means Facebook ad clicks will also be under-represented in Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels reporting relative to their impact on future sessions where a user converts.

Facebook ads manager gives credit to ad impressions

Facebook’s native ads manager reporting will show the impact of ad impressions on conversions. Make sure you understand how Facebook attributes credit to its own ads so you can make intelligent decisions based on those reports. For example, the default attribution windows are one (1) day for views, and twenty-eight (28) for clicks. And, “clicks” in Facebook ads manager reporting are not just clicks to view a website (e.g., they are also clicks to like the ad). Again, getting your hands around the details of how Facebook ads manager reports is important to making good decisions.

Should this matter to me?

Given that Safari represents as much as 23% of the overall browser share (5% desktop, 26% mobile, 59% tablet – per Wikimedia), this should matter to you in general, and even more depending on the extent to which your Google Analytics reporting shows Safari associated with your property’s overall browsing sessions.

What about workarounds?

As new workarounds to ITP are introduced, new versions of ITP seem to be regularly introduced to counter them. For example, with ITP 2.3 the previous workaround to use local storage instead of cookies was at least partially thwarted. Local storage only lasts 7 days with inactivity if the user comes from a cross domain link like those used with Facebook advertising.

A 7 days expiration with the local storage workaround, even with ITP 2.3 in effect and a Facebook ad click scenario, is better than an otherwise 24 hour expiration for your Google Analytics cookie. But, is there a more complete approach for better maintaining your Google Analytics reporting integrity?

GTM server-side tagging

Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) server-side tagging to set the Google Analytics client ID as an HTTP only cookie offers a solution to eliminate the ITP shortened Google Analytics cookie expirations. More on that in blog post “Server-side GTM, HTTP Cookies and Google Analytics“.

ITP impact on measuring Facebook advertising in Google Analytics