The last few months have seen a lot of uproar regarding the topic of ad tracking. Facebook has repeatedly complained loudly about Apple’s new tracking measures, and as early as July, the company tried to limit the damage by introducing new optimization options and performance values.
To further complicate matters, we have now learned that Facebook has misjudged the performance of many ad campaigns and has admitted that it mistakenly calculated the effectiveness of ad campaigns over the last few months.
In some cases, Facebook says initial reports to some advertisers showed that campaigns were 15% less successful than they actually were, producing more sales than initially believed. The reason they provided for this discrepancy was, of course, the changes Apple made to its iPhone software, a crucial underlying technology for Facebook’s ads.
It’s “gotten harder to measure your campaigns on our platform,” Graham Mudd, Facebook’s vice president of product marketing, writes in a blog post published earlier this month.
Who is to blame for the changes in ad tracking?
All in all, there is lots of confusion in the market right now, and companies are pointing fingers as they seek to shield themselves from blame. As a result of the chaos, the measurability of campaign impact and performance has suffered. Not to mention, the actions businesses can take right now, as outlined by Facebook, have not changed since the changes of iOS Devices have kicked in.
We at GANDT, for example, have implemented these (with the exception of conversion API tracking) for all clients. Yet, they have certainly not compensated entirely for data we used to get from ad tracking on Facebook.
Nevertheless, times of change also offer opportunities for innovation. So, as we continue adjusting to this new reality of ad tracking, let’s look at what companies can do to protect themselves and continue collecting the data they need to succeed.
Explore new options
As outlined in a recent article from OnlineMarketing.de, one of the reasons we are seeing these significant changes, especially with Facebook, is the level of trust by the customer. There is a higher trust in Twitter and usage of personal data than with Facebook.
Overall, it seems clear that Apple users are more suspicious of Facebook and, accordingly, often switch off tracking in the app. Facebook will have to try to remedy this over the next five years, but it will not be an easy task.
In the meantime, advertisers have to think about how they can continue to reach their target group. It is important not to rely solely on Facebook Business Manager to report on your performance. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to evaluate what your customers are doing on your website and how the channel fits into your user journey.
Suppose your analysis reveals that Facebook sessions are not part of your conversions path and you are selling a product with a user journey no longer than 90 days. In that case, Facebook is probably not a good investment at the moment. There are lots of other platforms you can use to reach your set goals.
Looking at the big picture
Although it can be difficult to zoom out when faced with the current challenges, it is essential to remember that the landscape of ad tracking will change in the next five years and will provide new technologies that will allow us to have a transparent overview of performance.
One action plan you could take right now is setting up a server-side tracking system. This requires resources, knowledge and lots of time to get it right (unrelated to the Facebook issue but helps with cookie tracking)).
That said, we will likely see more SAAS companies going in this direction in the following years, similar to what happened with all the GDPR service providers. This could put expensive tasks within reach for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Be proactive when it comes to reporting
Another action point you could take is to set up your own reporting structure with Funnel.io and Tableau. At GANDT, for example, we have created a great set of marketing dashboards that allow us to view our marketing mix as one unit and now many different separated units. With a few clicks, we are able to identify the critical channels and what channels are proving problematic.
Ultimately, it is essential to acknowledge that these challenges are probably here to stay and that we need to increase our adaptability as marketers. Understandably, many marketers and business owners are concerned about their future ability to target users, generate leads, and measure conversions from Facebook ads.
So to overcome the uncertainty, it’s a good idea to start looking into other ways to market your business digitally. Many different platforms offer ad management, as well as testing and reporting. Although Facebook may be the biggest player in the game right now, there are other options on its tail.
Marketers have adapted to updates and changes in the past, moving from traditional marketing to digital and from one platform to the next. This is just another step in the evolution of our industry.
If you’d like to further explore how you can benefit from an expert’s advice while navigating these uncertain times, get in touch to speak with a member of our team.