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Analysing the True Impact of Facebook Ads with lowcostholidays

Analysing the True Impact of Facebook Ads with lowcostholidays

Rakuten Attribution executed a sophisticated analysis project for lowcostholidays, one of the UK’s top online holiday booking sites, to evaluate the true performance of its Facebook advertising. The objective of the analysis was to test the effect of Facebook ads, served between July and August 2014, on lowcostholidays’ visits and sales.

Facebook has created a unique and exciting advertising proposition that enables very granular audience targeting. Until recently, Facebook’s ad tracking recorded all conversions for ads served on desktop. However, as over half of the ads are shown within the Facebook app, which does not support cookie-based tracking, Rakuten Attribution’s sales information was incomplete.

As a result, Rakuten Attribution developed a solution that combines its attributed sales data with Facebook’s data to better understand the impact of Facebook advertising in the context of all of lowcostholidays’ marketing activity. Consequently, it was able to understand Facebook’s overall effect on sales and found it to be performing 3x better than previously thought.


Lowcostholidays invests a large amount of money in many different digital marketing channels and spends a lot of time and resource optimising them. It has an attribution model designed and maintained by Rakuten Attribution and uses it to value every marketing channel in the context of all its activity.

When lowcostholidays started Facebook advertising prior to the expansion of Facebook’s conversion lift measurement capabilities, it quickly realised that more than half of the ads were being shown in the Facebook App. When shown in a browser the ads were tracked as normal, however the app doesn’t accept cookies – and so can’t be tracked – which prevented lowcostholidays from establishing the overall performance.


Although the Rakuten Attribution tracking solution cannot measure post impression activity on the Facebook app, it captures a complete view of all other online advertising activities. Facebook’s own tracking creates a complete view of all impressions on all devices and in all of their apps.

To solve the measurement challenge, Rakuten Attribution combined its tracked attributed sales data with Facebook’s own post impression data. By identifying a pool of users that were tracked completely by both parties, Rakuten Attribution’s analysts were able to identify a scaling factor and create a full view of performance based on that segment.

This was applied to all of Rakuten Attribution’s tracked performance data to accurately reflect the value of the untracked ads. The solution gives lowcostholidays a rigorous measure of Facebookadvertising and the revenue it drives, in the context of all its marketing activity.

As well as resolving an absolute value for the lowcostholidays Facebook campaigns, Rakuten Attribution used Facebook’s cross device usage data to provide an even richer view of the devices used by lowcostholidays’ customers in their paths to purchase.


As a result of Rakuten Attribution’s analysis, lowcostholidays now understands that it had been undervaluing the impact of its Facebook ads by a factor of three.

“We don’t get that kind of insight on cross-device behaviour from any other marketing platform at the moment,” says Jess Whitworth, head of brand at lowcostholidays.

“The suspicion was that in the modern mobile-dominated world, users had to be beginning their journey on one device - mobile, then switching device to complete their booking journey, but it’s always been very difficult to prove. Now, thanks to Facebook’s cross device reporting, we can see how user journeys do indeed start off on mobile, but then move across to tablet or desktop to  convert.”

The project enabled lowcostholidays to move ahead and optimise its campaign with the confidence that it not only knew the relative value of specific adverts, but also the absolute value to the business.

Andy Pang, measurement solutions group lead at Facebook, said “At Facebook, we’re constantly evolving our advertising offering to meet one of the biggest challenges facing advertisers today - measurement. Knowing how and where advertising spend is performing is crucial information, and as a marketer advertising across many different devices, platforms and channels, it’s sometimes hard to know what is actually driving additional business. This solution from Rakuten Attribution was one way for lowcostholidays to accurately determine the impact of Facebook ads, the results of which can now be used to better inform lowcostholidays’ future marketing activity and spend.”

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