While Facebook's IPO put a spotlight on its ability to grow revenue, marketers continue to focus on how to wring better performance out of their advertising there as they are barraged with conflicting data and surveys. In the midst of this, Facebook is making some subtle changes in how marketers can measure actions on the platform that are catching some advertisers and agencies off-guard.
Although under the radar, the new conversion methodology is incredibly important for agencies and advertisers, as it will give them an entirely new way to measure the effectiveness of Facebook initiatives, and possibly eliminate a hyper-focus on outdated metrics such as Likes, CPM, CTR, and clicks. These new advancements are reminiscent of when online display advertising introduced time spent on site, ad engagement metrics, view-through attribution, and other metrics to evaluate the performance of ads that did not immediately convert. For all publishers including Facebook, all targets and ads do not have equal value, nor do they have similar performance objectives to big brands to e-commerce companies. (That's particularly true for gaming companies.)
One of Facebook's biggest business challenges is its inability to measure the marketing impact of its programs on online and offline conversion, because of limitations related to view-through tracking. The recent announcement of its Exchange is hyper-focused on using off-Facebook data to target users on Facebook, primarily focusing on remarketing opportunities to drive off-site conversions. So, this recent announcement is a move in the right direction, but it is still very early. Google advertisers faced a similar obstacle when that ad platform launched. In Google's case, many brands for years undervalued the impact their advertising was having, just as many brands are now doing with Facebook. Because approaches and value outcomes vary, particularly in the early days of a platform, the challenge is difficult to solve quickly.
Facebook's measurement change is primarily related to how it accounts for and reports on of the way users interacting with and click on ads and content. Both ads and content play a critical role in the social network success of brands on the Facebook ecosystem, as well as on sites like Twitter, Google+, FourSquare, Pinterest and others.
On a basic level, what was previously considered a connection has been decoupled into distinct actions, providing greater transparency and opportunities for a variety of engagement metrics, as well as more detailed reporting options, insights, and optimization opportunities for both content and advertising strategies, which are now so closely aligned on the platform.
With conversion tracking and analytics, advertisers can now specify a single action or multiple actions to be measured for any ad group, and can optimize to these metrics. For ads and sponsored stories pointing to internal Facebook pages, marketers can now track page Likes, page post Likes, comments, @ mentions, check-ins, photo tags, and page post shares (including shares of special offers from brands). Marketers can also track 'claimed your offer,' 'answered your question,' 'clicked on the Page post link,' 'viewed the page post photo,' 'viewed the Page post video,' and 'viewed a tab on your Page.'
For ads and sponsored stories pointing to Facebook applications, this list includes installs, users, and the number of times Facebook credits were spent in the app. When it comes to Facebook's events feature, they can track "yes" and "maybe" RSVPs. Marketers will be able to look at these metrics in 1-day view-through and 1-, 7-, and 28-day click-through attribution windows.
Over time we expect Facebook to provide even greater analytics and insights related to the influence of advertising and its impact of in-store traffic and sales by integrating the check-in function with the RSVP and coupon functionality. Doing so would tie online awareness to offline success in ways that have challenged display and search, and would ultimately extend this connection to the social graph and word-of -mouth effectiveness.