Mobile Advertisers: Use Caution When Analyzing Facebook's Reporting
Facebook recently reported that, as of Q2 2013, the social-networking site hosts 469 million daily active mobile users
from around the globe on its platform. This enormous scope, coupled with distinct targeting capabilities, makes the social network a highly lucrative and effective channel through which app marketers
can acquire and engage users.
However, advertisers should be aware of certain distinct features when analyzing Facebook’s reporting.
Although Facebook campaigns tout a 75%
reduction in CPI, the SDK tracking for these actions is conducted differently than on other platforms.
First, if a user sees and clicks on a Facebook ad and doesn’t directly download the app from the ad but does download the app sometime within the following 28 days — possibly from another source — Facebook will still attribute the install to the ad. This leads to an increase in the conversion rate and a reduction in CPI. This is a fairly standard practice with various mobile tracking systems, but the biggest discrepancy occurs with post-impression attribution.
Facebook reports an impression whenever an advertisement is placed in a user’s News Feed. Therefore, there is only a 24-hour time frame, spanning from the moment of ad placement to the user download, when the News Feed ad can be attributed as the source of the download. Facebook tracks such installs as an indirect effect of its branding, which increases the conversion rate and lowers the CPI.
In contrast, most other tracking solutions count only direct referrals as the sources for installs. So, if a user sees an ad but ends up installing the app at a later juncture, the impression is registered — but the install is attributed to the final source. This type of reporting, therefore, shows lower conversion rates and a higher CPI, but is more representative of overall performance.
Don’t be alarmed if Facebook reports do not match those of other tracking solutions. Be sure to take the time to understand how Facebook tracks installs in order to better gauge the effectiveness of mobile app marketing campaigns.
Regardless of reporting discrepancies, Facebook remains an effective mobile app marketing channel. Facebook reporting shows an average CPI of about $1.00 whereas standard tracking platforms report a CPI of about $1.40 on the social network. Both outcomes are still far below the industry average of about $1.90. Of course, there are many factors that contribute to pricing, such as user targeting campaign precision.
As Facebook and other social networks continue to develop their mobile advertising offerings, it will become more important for campaigns to be closely tracked in order to understand the varying costs and effectiveness of different mobile app marketing strategies.