Facebook Ads Need Traditional Measurement Tools To Determine ROI


Finding the return on investment from Facebook ads is a continuing source of concern for advertisers that are looking for answers on what they get in return for spending millions of dollars to advertise on the site. It has become clear through General Motor's decision to pull ad funds that the industry needs to stop inventing new metrics and turn toward traditional tools.

While Facebook's closed-wall environment creates challenges when it comes to analyzing data, research surfaced recently that allows advertisers to move beyond data from "Likes" to make social media more measurable. The analysis points to measuring performance based on traditional offline methods, such as brand lift.



Facebook is not the only social platform that will require support from data analysis tools. Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest will need support from traditional accountable ad metrics as well.

Gauging the value of an engagement on social media may seem difficult, but satisfying Wall Street, advertisers and users will become "one massive effort," according to Steve Goldner, MediaWhiz's head of social media marketing. Vizu CEO Dan Beltramo points a finger at the entire industry for several shortcomings -- including the release of measurement tools weekly by social media companies trying to create a new metric that praises their platform.

"Companies really need to commit to a standard metric everyone can use," Beltramo said, suggesting that the industry should use brand lift. "A 'Like' as your only metric has no relation to any prior experience, and it makes spending money on social advertising a risky proposition."

There are no shortage of success stories when it comes to measuring brand lift. A social media campaign for Jones New York supported by digital publisher 33Across measured a 56% lift in purchase intent, up 19%. The agency relied on Vizu Ad Catalyst for Advertisers to measure the increase in awareness and the influence of social media advertising.

General Electric (GE) had a similar experience with BuzzFeed using Vizu tools, measuring a lift in brand perception compared with those who had not seen the content. Respondents viewed GE as a "creative" company resulting in a 138% brand lift via social media. Consumers discovering GE content through recommendation on Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and email links were 83% more likely to consider the company "creative," compared with those who found the content from within BuzzFeed.

Mary Kay and BlogHer drove an overall 259.6% lift in purchase intent, or increased purchase intent by more than three times among those who had been exposed to a recent social media campaign.

Brand lift that is calculated by measuring the attitude of people not exposed to the social media advertise, compared with the attitude of people who have been exposed when both groups start with identical experiences, can become a powerful metric. This would show attitude, or brand lift, attributable to social media advertising. The key would be tracking exposure to social media advertising similar to traditional methods.

Vizu records everyone exposed to an advertising campaign and surveys a subset to gain their opinion and attitudes about the brand. Then they survey an identical population of people about their opinion and attitudes about the same brand, and looks for the differences in opinion. This process allows the company to identify those with more favorable opinions.

5 comments about "Facebook Ads Need Traditional Measurement Tools To Determine ROI".
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  1. Nick D from ___, May 18, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

    Interesting article and valid point - that Facebook ads (just like any other online ad format) need a standard measurement associated with them - but is there any reason that you've spoken solely about Vizu? Dynamic Logic, among many others, might be slightly peeved, having been doing this for longer than many of its competitors...

  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, May 18, 2012 at 9:34 a.m.

    Rather than being "peeved," maybe execs at these companies should step-up, start a dialog and share some experiences on why this might or might not work.

  3. Mike Paine from Dukky, May 18, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.

    They've got several platforms out there that allow you to measure Facebook and other social media outreach (not to mention traditional media). Facebook has it's place for marketing if done right. I see too many companies marketing blindly, then blaming the sources they use without properly positioning their product or using the right tools to understand the impact created by their campaign. The smart businesses that use these tools will surpass all others in the near future.

  4. Anne Hunter from comScore, May 18, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

    In a collaboration between comScore and Facebook, called The Power of Like, we looked at measurement approaches that work for Facebook and beyond. The paper is available here for download:

    We found you could measure to actual sales lift on Facebook but also the reach and frequency of ad exposure to a fan and their friends of their fans who are also exposed. This reach and frequency measurement helps set the volume of impacts ads can have on an advertiser's sales or market share. We believe advertiser's care first about sales, and then metrics which help them get to sales when it cannot be directly measured. Historically reach and frequency have been used in those models.

    Data such as brand lift and engagement are also helpful in correlating exposure to effect and we use those as well in ad measurement.

    comScore strives to provide a continues and linked approach to provide metrics for marketers through our AdEffx suite. We start with reach (validated Campaign Essentials), then brand lift (Brand Survey Lift), behavioral lift (Action Lift) and finally sales (Offline Sales Lift) in a consistent manner.

    In traditional media multiple metrics (how much impact did the ad have, how many people were impacted, how much in sales are impacted by ad exposure) are used to determine success and we would expect synched metrics to be important to marketers in digital media as well.

    -Anne Hunter
    SVP Ad Effectiveness, comScore

  5. Jeff Bander from Sticky, May 18, 2012 at 5:33 p.m.

    They need the realCPM

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