Navigating Change and Improving Performance and Measurement

By Graham Mudd,  Facebook VP of Product Marketing

September 24, 2021

We understand that the last quarter of the year is a busy and important time for you and your business. This year in particular, you're trying to execute marketing plans while navigating a sea of platform and privacy changes across the entire online advertising industry. We’re here to help you understand these changes and optimize performance in this new environment.

We've heard from many of you that the impact on your advertising investment has been greater than you expected. The cost of achieving your business outcome may have increased and it’s also gotten harder to measure your campaigns on our platform. In some cases, this is due to underreporting on our part. Our estimate is that in aggregate we are underreporting iOS web conversions by approximately 15%; however there is a broad range for individual advertisers. We believe that real world conversions, like sales and app installs, are higher than what is being reported for many advertisers. We are committed to helping you better measure these outcomes and improve your performance.

We’re on this journey with you as our business also navigates and adapts to these changes. As we noted during our earnings call in July, we expected increased headwinds from platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. We know many of you are experiencing this greater impact as we are.

We’re optimistic about our multi-year effort to develop new privacy-enhancing technologies that minimize the amount of personal information we process, while still allowing us to show personalized ads and measure their effectiveness. Those efforts will take time, but there are actions you can take right now to maximize performance in this new environment while still respecting people’s privacy. Today, we are sharing a detailed list of those actions as well as the steps we’re proactively taking to help you. We’re working hard to ensure that most of these improvements are made before the busy holiday shopping season.

Actions you can take right now

We continue to adapt our systems to help you reach your customers, improve business outcomes, and deliver conversions while honoring consumer privacy. As you build your campaigns, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Allow time before you analyze performance: Given the nuances of delayed data and modeled reporting, consider waiting a minimum of 72 hours or the full length of the optimization window selected before evaluating performance for conversion-optimized campaigns. Daily assessment is still possible for campaigns, but waiting will ensure you get the most accurate picture of performance.
  • Analyze the campaign, not the creative: Where possible, analyze reporting at the campaign level. While ad set and ad level assessment is possible, some estimated conversions are aggregated and reported with a delay. Please take this into account when assessing ads performance.
  • Set up the Conversions API: The Conversions API creates a simple, reliable and privacy-safe connection between your marketing data, such as website events and offline conversions, and Facebook. Adding the Conversions API to your existing setup will help you optimize your ad campaigns, decrease cost per action and more accurately measure campaign outcomes while offering the same privacy protections we’ve put in place across our other Business Tools. Many advertisers are already seeing success with Conversions API, and you can check out their stories here.
  • Configure web events using Aggregated Event Measurement: This means choosing the web events (like a purchase or sign-up) that are most aligned with your core business outcomes and are frequently used as the events to optimize against in your campaigns. If you are running ads optimized against events that have not been prioritized in Events Manager, you may not see as effective results.
  • Follow learning phase best practices to help the delivery system learn the best way to deliver your ads: You can exit the learning phase sooner by consolidating ad sets, expanding your audience or choosing an optimization event that occurs more frequently. Alternatively, reduce the frequency of manual edits, use Automated App Ads or expand your audience, so there are more opportunities for people to complete your optimization event.
  • Consider all of the tools available: You may also want to consider all measurement solutions available to you, on Facebook and off. During this period of transition, it's prudent to review all measurement solutions to identify potential underreporting.
  • Continue to test and learn: Through testing new bidding, format and audience strategies, you can identify what is working today and evolve over time as our improvements continue. Testing new creative and marketing strategies is essential for improving your performance over time. We will continue to share case studies and considerations to help you drive your business.

Actions we’re taking right now

We’re focused on improving campaign performance by adapting in the areas of targeting, optimization, delivery and measurement, even with the increased limitations facing our industry.

Some examples of our work include:

  • Improving conversion modeling: We’ve dedicated time and resources to increase conversion reporting accuracy with a focus on mitigating the challenges brought on by these platform changes.
    • Since July, we have expanded conversion modeling capabilities in our default attribution setting of 7-day click and rolled out improvements for 1-day click attribution to improve conversion reporting accuracy.
    • Earlier this month, we expanded modeled reporting for Website Purchases Conversion Value, so you may see an increase in reported conversion values and other associated metrics like Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
  • Accelerating our investments: In advance of the 2021 holidays, we’re accelerating our own investments to address the known reporting gaps such as enabling view-through attribution for app events via SKAN and making view-through attribution the default for web events.
  • Tracking web conversions: We’re launching capabilities to allow advertisers to track web conversions even when they don’t own the top level website, as in marketplaces where multiple small businesses sell goods under the same web domain.
  • Enhancing measurement: We’re extending our ability to measure in-app conversions that SKAN cannot track, enabling measurement in apps that have already been installed.
  • Adapting quickly after we discover bugs: We recently fixed a bug introduced by a change in SKAdNetwork (SKAN) that resulted in underreporting of approximately 10%, and shared this with our advertisers. We expect the changes we’ve made will correct this issue and believe that reporting will improve.

We are confident the actions above will continue to provide even more value to you over time. Our top priority is making sure that you’re able to reach current and new customers, drive your marketing objectives and measure the performance of your advertising campaigns while helping you honor customers’ choices around privacy.

Over the coming months, we’ll continue to introduce new tools to further help with delivery effectiveness and measurement. As we learn and adapt right alongside you, we're committed to sharing what we are building in real time.

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