When Facebook announced it was overcounting clicks and conversions on its video carousal ads, this wasn’t the first time this sort of issue had been announced. These sorts of errors and bugs occur across all advertising platforms. Worse still, data collection across advertising tools varies in quality and type of data, which leads to further reporting challenges.

Over the last few weeks, Canopy Labs has interviewed a number of attribution experts to understand how they deal with the challenges of incorrect data, bias in ad networks, and discrepancies in reporting. This is a big problem: many advertising budgets are higher than marketing budgets. Without knowing which channels actually drive acquisition, conversions, and customer growth, it’s impossible to drive the right marketing mix… You can’t make the right decisions with the wrong data.

Below are four points to consider as you grow your ad spend and try to optimize for conversion:

Create clear conversion goals that are tied to purchases

You can’t have more revenue in your marketing reports than actual revenue reported in your financial statements or transactional systems. Reconciling data against the revenue actually generated will help show whether you have any errors or data issues.

Build your own 360-degree customer view

Doing this enables you to build your own attribution reports; ones completely separate from the reports seen on Facebook, Google, Snapchat, or other platforms. This will enable you to slice and dice your data in a way that you trust.

Use URL parameters

Where possible, include parameters to track the source of your website traffic, the specific ads, sponsored posts, or other components of your campaign. A number of experts we interviewed emphasize how they use the same URL parameters across multiple platforms to see where data discrepancies arise. Most of their campaigns will also include multiple parameters to enable reporting in different ways (e.g., by source, target audience, campaign, channel, and more).

Use an independent attribution platform

Doing so will enable you to build your own reports independently, to avoid bias in reporting. While this might appear overly complex, today’s best-in-class attribution products link revenue to specific visits and let you build reports across all ad networks.

Are you struggling with attribution and marketing mix optimization? Let us know and we’d love to suggest more specific options catered to your challenges.