One of my favorite scenes from The Social Network is when Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) first meets Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) to discuss Facebook’s strategy over dinner. On the subject of monetizing “The Facebook,” Parker cautions them on leveraging advertisements in the short term. Advertising on the website too early, he says, would be “like you’re throwing the greatest party on campus, and someone’s saying it’s gotta be over by 11:00.”
With the developments in newsfeed ad units over the last year or so, including unpublished page posts, sponsored stories, offers, and even a premium (and expensive) ad placement on the logout screen, it would appear that for users the party is winding down, and campus police have been called. Facebook’s new reporting tool for advertisers, however, shows so much promise that, for direct marketers, the party may just be starting. (If you aren’t seeing the new reports in your Ads Manager accounts yet, don’t worry; Facebook will be rolling the feature out to everyone over the next couple of months.)
As the movie title implies, Facebook is the social network, and as such they have always been great with social for brands. Engagement and interactions with users, from Likes and Fans to comments and page views, has never been difficult to determine through Facebook’s reporting. For direct marketers, though, social metrics only begin to solve the mystery we’re looking to crack wide open on Facebook: are we creating value, who is converting through our ads, and are conversions happening more often today than yesterday? This is how companies make money, how marketers justify and optimize their spend, and is exactly what the new reporting tool helps us to find out.
In the old reporting tool, it was very difficult to combine spend, click, and conversion data – the meat and potatoes of any PPC report – from Facebook ads. The new tool offers cost data on all kinds of actions that may be relevant to your product or service, like lead submissions and specific page views, but for e-commerce, consider the screenshot below.
Now that Facebook is tracking checkouts, direct marketers can easily see the immediate impact of their e-commerce campaigns in one simple report, allowing them to more quickly derive insights and implement changes that positively affect revenue. Conversion results can be summarized at the Ad, Campaign, or Account level.
Facebook has proven to be a powerful advertising force on mobile thus far, and for companies looking to promote their mobile apps, some new conversion options may become very valuable in the near future. Although we haven’t yet seen clear results from down-stream actions like “Mobile App Installs,” “App Uses,” and “Credit Spends (in-app purchases),” the fact that they are included in the new rollout is an exciting prospect for mobile developers. Imagine being able to report on Cost per App Use, as opposed to just hoping everyone who installs your app is an active user!
Another huge win for the new reports is the ability to view demographic data at all levels of the ad account. Targeting is where Facebook truly shines for advertisers, but the ability to target is only useful if you can see which demographics are actually performing for you.
Of course you know your general audience, but statistics don’t lie. Are younger females truly performing better than older ones? Are your sales in Canada coming from Facebook clicks? Do your ads perform better on mobile, or the desktop? All of this information is available at a quick glance; here we can clearly see that males between 18 and 34 are where the bulk of our efforts should be spent.
Demographic information was available in the old reports, but it was a bit clunky. Now seamless and paired with detailed conversion data, segmenting by demographic is enormously insightful.
Lastly, direct marketers need to know if their campaigns are performing better over time – it’s what they’re paid big bucks to make happen! Facebook was frustratingly devoid of week-over-week reporting for a long time, but they’ve finally come around. You’ll also notice that their week segments allow for any start day, which is much easier to look at than Google’s forced Monday – Sunday default.
A few other smaller details are worth noting on the new tool. It looks like automated email functionality has been added, to generate customized reports sent on a schedule. This will be great for advertisers to keep a daily or weekly check on their campaign performance, but it doesn’t seem to be working for us right now.
Another broken feature is the campaign filter. Right now, it’s laughable, as you can only filter by Campaign/Ad Name Includes: X. This is great and all, but on our accounts with hundreds of campaigns, I can think of a thousand other ways I’d like to filter out certain ones. The filter looks like it should be a placeholder for a nice, dynamic tool to be finished at a later date. Let’s hope!
Finally, two great UI improvements over the old reporting tool are the ability to drag and drop columns, and save report layouts. This will likely be a great workflow enhancement for many direct marketers, as everyone has different nuanced KPIs they like to use for different clients, and different ways of approaching PPC data tables overall. Allowing users to create the format that works for them and save it will make Facebook a more usable and productive advertising platform for everybody.
Time to party!
– Dylan Brannon joined CPC Search in April 2013 as a PPC Analyst following a stint in software sales in Palo Alto. Originally from Rochester, New York, he received his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial & Labor Relations with a minor in Operations Research from Cornell University. Dylan enjoys running, hiking, live music, and the Northern California weather.