Facebook Develops Conversion Tracking Tool: What's A Fan Worth?

Facebook plans to add a conversion tracking tool to its suite of advertising products based on demand from the marketplace. The platform will allow marketers to track clicks through conversion, Brian Boland, manager of direct response solutions for Facebook, told OMMA Social attendees in San Francisco on Tuesday.

The conversion tracking tool being tested by a "handful" of Facebook advertisers doesn't have a launch date, but Boland believes it should become available sometime before the end of March. A JavaScript snippet will go into the Web page. Marketers will have an option to set up multiple tags to track numerous conversions.

Reports will provide a list of tracked conversions and the impressions and the clicks that led to each. The feature will help marketers build out messages as the campaign expands into a variety of pieces.

Conversion tracking aims to complement Facebook Connect, a tool that allows advertisers to target fans of brands, as well as friends of the connected fans. The Facebook Connect tool reports back on everything from demographics to interests listed in Facebook profiles. Ads connecting to Facebook Connect tie in social context, such as the person's name.

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Boland also served up advice on how to calculate a cost-per-fan metric to determine the campaigns return on investment (ROI). Not only the cost to acquire a fan, but the fan's worth. "Some businesses have looked at it as the depth in which they have the community engaged and look at the downstream effects," he says, pointing to Starbucks and Threadless as two examples.

Panelists during the following discussion moderated by 360i's David Berkowitz agreed that marketers need to determine the best way to calculate cost-per-Facebook fan. Steve Kerho, senior vice president of analytics at Organic, would like to see agencies apply the same analytics, discipline and rigor to social media metrics that they have for display, and natural and paid search.

As more dollars are pushed into social media, advertisers and marketers will feel increased pressure to demonstrate ROI. Social media shouldn't become exempt from the same analytics approach that other online tools require, Kerho says.

Amber Naslund, director of community at Radian6, says marketers will need to determine "value" as either a quantitative metric or a qualitative metric, such as brand value. "If you're trying to measure the dollar value of a fan, you need to not only measure the amount of time and human capital resources put in to the online strategies, but find ways to track specific panels of revenue and conversion through the online communities, whether Facebook or Twitter," she says. "This will let you determine the value from the fan, in terms of revenue, and divide that by the number of fans you have."

About 85% of the companies Radian6 works with look at determining value by brand valuation and not generating direct revenue, Naslund says. They don't look at social media as the sales channel, but rather building brand recognition through fans. "We're in danger of killing innovation by metrics," Nick Pahade, president at TrueAction. "What's the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning? You do it because you look like a douche bag if you walk out of the house without them in the morning. There are specific results derived from campaigns."

Pahade says if you have 5 million fans and publish a status update telling them to check out a new clothing line, TrueAction has a platform that can track conversions, and revenue per follower. He says the real innovations need to occur in the connection between social and networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to grow fans and followers.

1 comment about "Facebook Develops Conversion Tracking Tool: What's A Fan Worth?".
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  1. David Shor from Prove, January 28, 2010 at 12:24 a.m.

    Laurie,

    This is fantastic. I'm surprised that no one has commented yet.

    As I mentioned to the room at OMMA Performance, Facebook knows the importance of providing a true assessment of its value.

    Conversion tracking is just one of the three important components.

    Facebook would also be well served to implement a pixel piggyback function so we can drop our impression tracking pixels into the ad and track view-thrus, and also allow those advertisers who do not use an ad server to place a Facebook view-thru pixel on a landing page--to differentiate post-impression visits from conversions.

    Brave new world. Twitter needs to be next!

    Separately, excited about the growth of our QuillionNetwork.com, the first true view-based Premium Affiliate Network.

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