Facebook Offline Conversion and Site Metrics: Use With Caution
In collaboration with Jim Nail.
On Tuesday, Facebook announced new solutions for businesses to drive people to their stores and measure the amount of store visits and in-store sales following their Facebook mobile ad campaigns. Before breaking out the bubbly, let’s break down Facebook’s new measurement capabilities, and evaluate what it means for marketers.
First, the warning statement: The Facebook Offline Conversion and Site Metric features give all the credit to a singular FB mobile ad, not considering all the other marketing stimuli a consumer is exposed to. Taking the offline conversion metric as a stand alone metric without considering all your other marketing activity will over credit social advertising and under credit other marketing initiatives and misguide your future marketing investments. Additionally, the offline conversion and site metric only works when Facebook users opt into the Facebook location services, so it’s unknown if the metrics are a true sample of intended targeted audience.
That said, Facebook improved its local awareness product with several valuable new features. The first allows marketers to show their nearest brick and mortar locations to customers who are in the vicinity and offer a relevant call to action, like “Get Directions.” This store locator will now be featured natively, within the ad format, so people can click on the map (in the ad) to get information about local businesses—all without leaving the ad! Great, right? Well, it gets better. Facebook is now offering a new metric in Ad Reporting called store visits: When marketers upload their in-store or phone conversion data through their Offline Conversion API, they can match conversion data to Ad Reporting data. This allows marketers to measure-in “real time”-the effectiveness of their ads to in-store sales.
Facebook developed the online to offline metric simply because they wanted to reinforce how consumers access and engage on social networks through their mobile device. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook saw advertising revenue grow by 57% in the first quarter to $5.2 billion from $3.3 billion. Mobile ads, specifically, accounted for roughly four-fifths of that revenue. Yet marketers still struggle to understand how social marketing drives business results. Providing better metrics around the power of mobile advertising and the capability to link ads to in-store sales gets marketers closer to tying social marketing activity to hard business objectives. Despite its limitations, it gives marketers more ammunition to ask for bigger social advertising budgets. But keep in mind: the Facebook Offline Conversion Metric and Site Metric is a slice of the customer purchase path, not considering other marketing initiatives that could have influenced a customer's decision to act. Just relying on this one metric could over-credit social marketing programs and under credit other marketing campaigns.
Marketers: to get value from the Offline Conversion and Site Metric features, use it in conjunction with your other digital and direct response performance metrics to uncover correlations between different marketing events. Look to your measurement provider to include this metric in their attribution algorithms and resist the temptation to rely solely on this metric because it is easy and convenient.