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Measuring Marketing Success on Facebook: Are Your Metrics Telling the Truth?

facebook-measuring-marketingThese days, there’s a lot more for companies to do on Facebook than post photos and status updates. The social media giant has become a useful marketing tool for brands both big and small, from providing retargeting options to partnering with tech giants like IBM to explore ways to personalize brand experiences. Although its video ad reporting metrics have recently come under fire for being inflated as a result of an error in the algorithm, there’s a lot Facebook does right. What happens when Facebook data for mobile ad campaign performance is correct, but it’s the third-party reporting firms that are wrong? One report set out to answer that question—and discovered the discrepancy could negatively impact your advertising bottom line. Here’s what you need to know.

Facebook’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Before we go further, I want to touch on the Facebook video ad reporting debacle. There’s an elephant in the room, after all, so we might as well call it out. Here’s what happened: According to Bloomberg, Facebook gave advertisers inflated video metrics because a flaw in the algorithm counted videos as “viewed” after being watched for three seconds or longer, resulting in figures 60 to 80 percent higher than they should have been.

Some advertisers are upset because they feel the inflated figures led them to spend more on Facebook video ads than they would have otherwise—and, let’s face it, they’re probably right. Facebook didn’t release how they discovered the problem, but they did state in a post that the discrepancy had been fixed and advertisers have been notified.

That’s done. Now, most of the time, Facebook gets its metrics right. Let’s move on to the report that underscores what happens when it’s the third-party analytics tools that throw a wrench in reporting accuracy.

Report Highlights

A recent report from Rakuten—The Facebook Measurement Divide—examined data and performance statistics for three clients and found a concerning trend: Web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Omniture might be underreporting the attributable revenue for mobile Facebook ad campaigns by as much as 192 percent (see Figure 1).


Figure 1. Source: Rakuten

It is important to delve into this issue because the net result of the measurement discrepancy costs large advertisers millions in missed opportunities with their Facebook mobile campaigns.

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • Mobile Facebook advertising significantly outperforms similar desktop initiatives, the extent of which is often underreported by third party analytics tools.
  • The click-through-rate (CTR) for mobile ads on Facebook is 63 percent higher than on desktop, and return on ad spend is a whopping 72 percent higher, too (see Figure 2).
  • While CTRs are higher on mobile, conversion rates are lower.
  • For all three clients studied, attributable revenue for Facebook mobile ads was consistently underreported by outside analytics tools by an average of 65 percent.

Figure 2. Source: Rakuten

What does it mean to you?

To combat this discrepancy and ensure you’re analyzing solid metrics as you determine your brand’s social media strategy—which, based on the data above, should be relatively robust on mobile—the team at Rakuten recommends the following:

  • Create a multiplier to measure the difference in mobile revenue between what’s shown on your web analytics tool and what is reported by Facebook conversion tracking.
  • Web analytics tools often use a revenue model based on last-click performance while Facebook’s approach is based on post clicks. To ensure you’re comparing apples to apples, you’ll need to normalize the data. Rakuten suggests “using the revenue discrepancy between Facebook attributable revenue on desktop and that of the marketer’s attribution software as a benchmark.” See Figure 3 below for an example that should help to demystify the process.

Figure 3. Source: Rakuten

Final Thoughts

When it comes to measuring the success of your campaigns, are you satisfied with the data you get from Facebook and outside analytics tools? There was a lot of good information and perspective in Rakuten’s report—how will you put it to use? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Eric Vidal
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