Facebook is shutting down the beta version of a conversion tracking tool it launched earlier this year allowing advertisers to track activity on their Web sites after someone clicks or views their ad on Facebook. The aim was to help marketers determine the ROI of Facebook campaigns by tracking actions like registrations or sales driven by ads on the social network.
But in a message this week to advertisers testing the service, Facebook said it was discontinuing conversion tracking "after reviewing extensive feedback from beta participants." Advertisers will be able to collect data through the Facebook tracking tag until Oct. 20 and view historical conversion data through November 1.
But the company noted the change only affects conversion-tracking pixels used outside of Facebook. "We'll continue to automatically track and report on conversions for your Facebook Page or Event," the note stated.
Facebook today confirmed it was pulling the plug on conversion tracking after a seven-month trial. "While we learned a lot from the beta, our focus is not on building a full featured conversion tracking tool," the company said in a statement. "Moving forward, we will continue to invest in tools that help marketers better understand the effectiveness of ads that are social and include social context from friends." In that vein, the company earlier this month launched a new set of metrics in its Ad Manager tool to help advertisers measure the social context of ads by tracking the proportion that include endorsements from friends. That means telling advertisers what percentage of their ads people "Liked" or used to engage with a Facebook Page, event or application.
With the launch of Facebook's Open Graph and Like buttons for third-party sites earlier this year, some publishers and brands are now starting to integrate Likes more deeply to tailor their sites to specific users and boost results, according to an Ad Age story this week.
There's also Google Analytics. Bulbstorm, which creates branded apps and ad campaigns on Facebook for companies including Intel and Ruiz Foods, said clients often prefer to have reporting done via Google Analytics because that's the Web tracking service they are already using.
Facebook's conversion tracking service, which the company tested, "really seemed to be a redundant offering," said Matt Simpson, marketing director at Bulbstorm. "When you can adapt Google Analytics to track conversions from Facebook or LinkedIn or other sites, that seems to be the preferred model," he added.
Other social media marketing firms are also developing tools to bring greater accountability to advertising on Facebook and other social sites. Buddy Media, for instance, this month announced a partnership with MarketShare Partners to develop analytics tying social marketing initiatives to tangible offline results like increased sales and profitability.