person browsing Facebook on a laptop
PHOTO: Nghia Nguyen

Facebook has been busy updating a number of its ad features in the last few months. The changes mean the company is retiring several audience metrics as of today and replacing them with new metrics to aid marketers measure the customer conversion activity from their ads. Let's take a look at what's new.

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Measuring Customer Conversions, Ad Relevance and Interest

One change is meant to reveal when a customer conversion takes place.

The metrics New Messaging Conversions and Messaging Conversations Started will replace Message Replies and Cost per Messaging.

New Messaging Conversions represent any new conversions. It will exclude interactions with people who have previously sent a message to your business. Messaging Conversations Started measures the number of times people started messaging a business after at least seven days of inactivity.

Facebook created these conversion metrics based on feedback it received from marketers using the ad platform. Marketers were more interested in knowing when someone contacted their business for the first time and also requested the ability to measure conversions that followed a period of inactivity after the first contact.  

A second key change is the replacement of the Relevant score with a set of ad relevance metrics. The new metrics — Quality Rank, Engagement Rate Ranking and Conversion Rate Ranking — provide nuanced diagnostics regarding how relevant an ad campaign was for the audience you reached.  

  • Quality Rank determines an ad's perceived quality compared to other ads competing for the same audience. Facebook measures ad quality based on activity feedback that indicates people hiding an ad or flagging the ad as clickbait.
  • Engagement Rate Ranking calculates the likelihood a person will interact with a given ad — either by clicking the ad, providing a reaction, commenting on the ad or sharing it. It compares the expected engagement rate of an ad campaign against other ads competing for the same audience. 
  • Conversion Rate Ranking determines the likelihood a person who viewed your ad will complete your optimization goal. It explains how your ad's expected conversion rate compares to ads with the same optimization goal competing for the same audience. 

Finally, the metrics Offer Saved and Cost per Offer Saved have been replaced with a new metric called Posts Saved (according to its business support site, Facebook has been rolling this metric out to its dashboards since March 12). Posts Saved represents the number of times a given ad was bookmarked. It is designed to provide a better metric for measuring interest in an ad offer when conversion is not immediate.

The company is also retiring two other metrics: Mobile App Purchases ROAS (return on ad spend) and Web Purchase ROAS and introducing a combined ROAS metric, Purchase ROAS, but more on that in my next post.

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Don't Discount Facebook Yet

So what do all of these changes mean for marketers? For starters, they provide a better sense of when purchase activity based on an ad occurs, necessary when refining a message for an on-the-go audience. Marketers must serve a mixture of ad messages, which remind potential customers of the convenience of their product or service along with contextually relevant remarketing ads to aid in conversions after the ad is first viewed.

The real test of the success of these metrics will be in how well audiences engage with the ads.

Despite its well-known issues regarding third-party access to user profile information, Facebook noted in its latest earning report that the number of global daily active users increased to 2.38 billion. Its US audience has also remained steady, so marketers should not count Facebook out from their digital marketing analytics strategies. The platform still offers plenty of opportunities to gain audience attention.

Industry research firms expect marketers to continue to invest substantial dollars into digital advertising, reaching historic milestones in some instances. The changes Facebook has made to its metrics capability aims to enhance the value of those dollars, but time will tell if marketers will feel the value from those metrics, too.