At the end of April, Facebook announced the most recent update of their analytics tool. Despite previous rumblings that indicated a move towards an increased insights offering for businesses and brands, the sheer number of new launches recently presented, along with the actions that Facebook took last year seem to indicate that we are currently witnessing the birth of a very interesting tool.
What happened Last year?
The new pixel
The new pixel code was released two years ago and definitively supplanted the old one last summer. At the time, it seemed like merely a way of integrating and simplifying the code, with conversions registered underneath it as events. However, it would seem that it was to be much more than that. The current pixel is also an integration with the app SDK (software development kit) events, meaning that they can be tracked in the analytics tool that Facebook had already developed for app analytics.
The new targeting options
The new advanced website custom audiences launched last year, which already hinted at the depth and breadth of the data that the new pixel was collecting. Targeting options began to expand from initially available URL visits targeting options to segmentation based on time spent on-site and interactions with previously implemented events.
Facebook acquires WhatsApp
One of Facebook’s main selling points has been always the capacity to track multi-device conversions. With increased investments to its own messaging app, as well as the merging of data with WhatsApp, Facebook is not only ensuring domination on messaging apps, but also reinforcing their ability to associate real users with devices. In this manner, they are able to continue tracking audiences that are less interested in using Social Media (or are dropping from it on a daily basis) but that are still connected with their contacts via messenger apps. Being able to measure unique users also seems to be one of the main selling points of the new analytics platform.
What are the most recent updates?
After the developments of last year, this year we witnessed the official launch of analytics; a fully developed and tested analytics system, already implemented for each pixel corresponding to every Facebook ad account, and already filled with data.
Some of the key features include:
- Unique reach metrics, thanks to the ID-based measurement that allows Facebook to report on cross-channel conversions better than a cookie-based system.
- Customized dashboards:
- Automated insights which uses Artificial Intelligence to identify anomalies.
- Segmentation based on events, website, device and demographics, allowing custom audiences to be built around these.
- Omni-channel analytics, comparing social actions with results on the site, the page or in-store.
The system itself is still highly focused on in-app behaviour, with several metrics tracking this activity. There are still notably fewer metrics set-up for other channels, but the system is rapidly developing to become an omnichannel tool.
What May Come
Increased Data Collection
The pixel is changing again, and from May 2017 onwards will be collecting more data from the interactions that occur between the user and on the site itself. If we read between lines and apply this to the analytics platform, we may expect that some of the metrics that are currently missing may in fact shortly appear.
Facebook Challenge (and a personal wish list)
If we take a step back and we look at the motivation behind this investment, we cannot ignore that one of the major challenges for the growth of Facebook spend has been activity attribution and the comparisons made with other omnichannel platforms. With the release of this new platform, Facebook would potentially be able to track anything that is currently being tracked via URL and view tracking, add their own post-view data to the mix, integrate Facebook activity to the platform and then be able to relate it back to social actions.
With the launch of this new platform, Facebook steps firmly into the arena to compete with Google over which of the two giants is successfully able to provide the most accurate and honest data as they relate to consumer’s conversion paths. Facebook also has several of its own unique selling points, which includes ID-based tracking and the fact that tracking for this will already have been implemented for lots of websites, meaning an additional implementation step will not be required.
Keeping this in mind, we recommend keeping abreast of the coming changes, as a future where the platform has the potential to provide significant analytics capabilities is quite an exciting one.