Facebook’s Got A Spiffy New Cross-Device Reporting Tool

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FBcross-deviceFacebook wants to be the answer to your cross-device measurement problem and it’s in a pretty good position to do it.

Enter cross-device reporting for ads, courtesy of Facebook. The new measurement solution, unleashed Wednesday, is available within Facebook’s campaign back end and is designed to allow advertisers to track customers as they move across the mobile web and in and out of apps.

“Cross-device reporting enables advertisers to see for the first time which devices a user used when they saw an ad and compare it with the device they were on when the conversion happened,” a Facebook spokesperson told AdExchanger. It’s another metric to help advertisers understand their ad spend ROI.

It works like this: Advertisers — or more likely their developers — drop the Facebook conversion pixel, a piece of tracking code, onto the page they’re looking to have users convert on. Then they create a Facebook ad that gets served in the news feeds of desired audiences. When users click the ad, they’re taken to the page where they can buy, all of which is tracked and reported. That was all possible before.

What's new is the reporting function. Advertisers can now run reports to see which device a person used to see an ad and where they ultimately converted. When used in concert with the Facebook SDK, it's now possible to see cross-device conversions between both app and web.

The idea is that better shopper behavior data gives advertisers clearer insights into what users are doing on mobile before they convert, all in the name of optimization. The release of cross-device reporting is a push to get Facebook advertisers away from last click attribution. They’re not the only ad stack-type player gunning for this, what with competitors like Google buying Adometry and AOL buying Convertro simultaneously in May.

But the Facebook rep indicated there’s still more work to be done: “Multitouch attribution models that incorporate cross-device behavior are an improvement, but true people-based lift testing is even better.”

Cross-Device Perspectives from the eTail Conference

Facebook’s new reporting functionality is just another nail in the cookie’s coffin.

“Cookies track devices, not people — they’re unreliable,” said Jeremy Lewis, US ecommerce industry lead at Facebook, speaking at eTail East in Philadelphia. “One of the things we’re working on with our partners is ID-based targeting to help companies understand cross-device. We’re looking to create new solutions.”

Considering the tenuous and frankly dubious position of cookies in the mobile environment, advertisers are looking to IDs and other identity solutions to fuel targeting accuracy.

Lewis said Facebook recently teamed up with Nielsen to compare Facebook targeting to other publishers' sites. The numbers are startling: The average online reach for a narrowly targeted ad campaign is about 38% with the general run of publisher sites; on Facebook, that number jumps to 89%.

“And that makes sense because people are their real selves on Facebook,” Lewis said.

Part of what’s been holding online retail back is that, despite attention being directed at hot new tracking and personalization technologies, “online is far less personal than a conversation my grandma would have had with her butcher 40 years ago, and that’s a disgrace,” said Bruce Ernst, VP of product management at Monetate.

“Facebook could play an interesting role here,” Ernst told AdExchanger. “Yes, they’ll have a single ID, but more so than anything else, they have self-reported data. If they say someone is a 40ish male that lives in the suburbs, they’re probably right, whereas all these other tech companies are taking a stab in the dark. They’re maybe, kinda, sorta right.”

Facebook is also doubling down on its targeting products. There’s Core Audiences (a native targeting tool that looks at data points like demographics, gender, age, interests, etc.); there’s Custom Audiences (using a brand’s own data to target ad campaigns); and, finally, there are Lookalike Audiences (finding the people on Facebook that look most like a brand’s best customers to help with remarketing or user acquisition).

Today, shopping has become what Lewis termed “a two-screen minimum.” Recent Facebook/GfK data found that more than 60% of adults use at least two screens a day, while 40% of people who start an activity on one screen finish what they’re doing on another.

The ultimate goal, Lewis said, is for Facebook to work with its various tech partners, like search and digital marketing company Kenshoo, to take cross-screen to the next level, aka a “true multitouch attribution system.”

“The future of shopping is personalization and discovery across devices,” Lewis said. “We didn’t even have custom audiences two years ago and now we can market to someone via desktop or mobile if they abandon their shopping cart — it’s all about better targeting and leveraging mobile more effectively.”

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