Veteran Facebook advertisers know that when View Tags, powered by underlying technology created and maintained by third parties, first launched on Facebook, they were hailed as an innovative way to quantify your Facebook advertisements on the web. With Facebook’s recent change in its View Tags policy, which essentially eliminates the purpose of View Tags as originally intended, advertisers are scrambling to determine how this shift will impact their attribution, measurement, and verification efforts.
Before View Tags, if someone saw an ad on Facebook and later Googled the brand to make a purchase, Google was the only company that could have been credited with driving that purchase. Once Facebook support for View Tags was introduced, brands could track a user across the path to purchase using cookies and prove that the impression originated on Facebook—even if it didn’t result in the coveted “click” right away. It was a breakthrough, allowing advertisers to attribute their success more accurately.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the number of Americans that own a smartphone has nearly doubled to 77%. Some 95% of active users now access Facebook via mobile, , according to Statista. With the rapid adoption of mobile advertising, Facebook View Tags as originally intended are no longer as effective and do not accurately track behavior across mobile apps and browsers.
In May, Facebook announced a new View
Tags policy that limited the number of View Tag providers and reduced support for the functionality associated with View Tagging. Today, Facebook only allows View Tags to count impressions. Support
for cookies has been pulled, impacting advertisers’ ability to track the path-to-purchase. As a result, some advertisers are choosing to rely more heavily on the natively available metrics and
attribution solutions provided directly by Facebook. Others are adopting View Tagging technology from providers who are still supported by Facebook.
While defaulting to Facebook’s proprietary, free solutions may be preferable for advertisers with basic needs or unsophisticated measurement practices, those with mature needs would do well to remember the benefit of maintaining a holistic view of their campaigns. Third-party validation can help verify performance and attribution across channels, allowing for an understanding of where dollars are being allocated in order for advertisers to set themselves up for success in the future.
Navigating an Ever-Changing Advertising Arena
So, the big question now is what to do. It’s certainly an option to go all-in and rely on Facebook for measurement and attribution in the channel. If you’ve been using crowd favorite Google Marketing Platform (formerly Google DoubleClick), you’ll be forced to reconsider your third-party provider from among Facebook’s currently approved providers. And if you’re currently using another outside provider, you still might want to reconsider your options at this critical juncture.
The decision you make should depend on your goals and budget.
If you are an advertiser whose primary goal is brand awareness, you want to make sure your brand is seen by as many new (and relevant) people as possible. Facebook and its increasingly popular “kid brother,” Instagram, are turning into a goldmine for brand awareness, making audience targeting through the platform an even larger priority for advertisers looking for mass reach.
Even after Facebook’s policy change, you can rely on Facebook for measurement and attribution of impressions, but you’ll only get a very siloed look at performance, and it will be harder to configure across channels such as search, display, TV and mobile.
Alternatively, if you have a primary goal of driving purchase intent and creating calls-to-action that result in clicks—and ideally, purchases—you should prioritize a partner that will continue to meet your more advanced attribution needs.
Using one of Facebook’s approved partners can help solve for this need, but you’ll need to use that provider for measurement across all channels in order to get that overarching view of your campaigns. Using an approved provider for an Instagram ad campaign but a non-approved provider for a different digital tactic will not only be costly, it won’t allow for the multichannel attribution that is necessary in today’s complex, digital world.
A single source of truth enables smarter strategies through an understanding of all the touchpoints that drive action. The better your brand can measure results across campaigns, the more successful you’ll be in the long run and that, of course, is the ultimate goal.