Facebook levels playing field with Advanced Measurement

Facebook’s Advanced Measurement just might be a game changer for online advertisers wanting to know where to spend budget for best results.

Now in testing, Advanced Measurement will soon be available to all Facebook advertisers wanting to compare Faceboook campaign performance with campaigns on other platforms. And those other platforms include Instagram, Google AdWords and Google Display Network campaigns.

What makes Advanced Measurement advanced? It eschews cookie-based tracking for a tag measurement system matched to Facebook’s 1.86 billion plus active users worldwide.

Advanced Measurement doesn’t just track users around the web, from app to app, and from one device to another. It can also connect the offline sales resulting from online campaigns.

Initially focused on measuring reach and attribution, Advanced Measurement will only enable performance comparisons. It does not include tools advertisers can use directly to optimise their campaigns.

Advanced Measurement has previously only been available to some of Facebook’s biggest ad clients. While launch date and pricing for public release have yet to be announced, the new reporting interface will be available to all Facebook advertisers, and accessed from Business Manager.

Advanced Measurement uses Atlas ad server and measurement technology that Facebook acquired from Microsoft in 2013 (and which Microsoft paid handsomely for in purchasing aQuantive in 2007).

Why should you care?

Ever wondered how your Facebook campaigns are performing, compared with your Google search and display campaigns? Of course you have.

Google Analytics will tell you, assuming you’ve taken the time to add tracking parameters to your Facebook campaigns. But, depending on your site and conversion funnel, the story may not necessarily be complete. That’s particularly true when the path to conversion is a long one, with repeat visits across multiple devices and a high ratio of visitors on mobile devices. That’s where cookie-based tracking breaks down, and where what Facebook calls “people-based marketing” comes into its own.

Accurately measuring ad performance across devices and between online and offline is a challenge for all advertisers, publishers and ad networks.

Facebook and Google, between them sharing about 85% of new digital ad spend in the US (according to one estimate), are both tackling the issue as best they can. Take Google AdWords reporting, for example, which now includes by default estimated cross-device conversions (albeit with a high confidence rating) and, for a limited number of eligible multi-location retailers, estimated store visits.

We’re keen to see what Facebook’s Advanced Measurement will tell us, particularly in comparing Facebook with Google campaigns for different advertisers. You should be too.

But at this stage, Facebook is not yet even making Advanced Measurement screenshots available. This suggests to us that interface and usability improvements will be a likely outcome of current testing, and that actual rollout may still be a few months away.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.