Facebook Discontinued its Facebook Analytics tool at the end of June 30, 2021. The free tool had been available since 2018 and was an important part of many marketer's toolboxes. Whenever any company gets rid of a digital tool, the loss of that tool attracts a lot of attention from current (or former) users. Those users are eager to learn what tools or platforms will replace it.
Facebook Analytics: A Retrospective
The news of the Facebook analytics platform going away was no exception. The tool was a standalone dashboard that helped marketers measure post-engagement activity and offered a number of useful metrics, such as:
- Monthly active user count
- Post reactions
Facebook Analytics was useful for tracking how posts performed. It showed whether engagement was improving or declining among a brand's Facebook audience. However, Facebook Analytics never achieved the same level of adoption among marketing experts as other tools such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics.
What Does Facebook Analytics Going Away Mean?
With the closure of Facebook analytics, Facebook moved analytics metrics to three other user interfaces.
Information is now split between:
- Facebook Business Suite
- Facebook Ads Manager
- Facebook Events Manager
This means marketers who made extensive use of the Analytics tool now need to use multiple sources for the same information.
To understand why Facebook made this decision, it's important to consider the wider perspective of social media dashboards. In the last few years, ecommerce has become very important to social media platform managers. “Insider Intelligence forecasts that US retail social commerce sales will rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion in 2021.”
Facebook Analytics' Closure Reflects Declining Interest in Panel Data
The original purpose of Facebook Analytics was to display panel data. The tool offered a filtered view and analysts were typically willing to trust the data because of the source. This meant there was no need to create a dashboard that statistically verified the data.
Facebook isn't alone in having offered panel metrics as a part of its analytics suite. Twitter Analytics, which I covered here, is an example of another platform that offers similar tools.
Today, analysts are interested in understanding the source of the data they work with. The addition of new Privacy legislation meant businesses had to be careful about the type of data they processed and how they processed it.
The Death of Panel Metrics
Even Google has scaled back its analytics offerings in some ways. The search giant removed Affinity Reports in a recent Google Analytics update. Affinity Reports revealed the subject interests of site visitors using panel data that inferred interests from a user's records of online activity.
To protect the anonymity of visitors, such metrics were revealed only for sites with traffic above a predetermined threshold. This meant webmasters could infer the demographics or interests of specific individuals on low-traffic sites. Panel metrics need to comply with the spirit of privacy rules, which means they're only able to offer an aggregate view of trends.
Now, even that aggregate-only view is no longer available. Google still offers other analytics tools but limits the information that is available about individual visitors.
The Privacy Trend Challenges Analytics Providers
One challenge that analytics platform makers have been faced with is the anti-tracking sentiment shown by certain mobile manufacturers. Apple's App Tracking Transparency protocol is becoming increasingly popular. I explained the impact of ATT in this post. Google is planning to introduce its version of this technology in Android 12.
Apple's decision to ask iPhone and iPad users whether they want to be tracked by ads was controversial. It has already had an impact on the accuracy of Facebook Analytics for ads advertising business pages or posts. The impact is most noticeable when the sizable page follower count includes iPhone or iPad users.
The size of the Google Android ecosystem and the variety of mobile phone manufacturers means the feature's rollout will be slow. It may take more than a year from the release of Android 12 for a significant number of Android phones to support the technology. However, the reach of the Android platform means the feature could hurt many advertisers who rely heavily on social media apps.
The Facebook Pixel
Facebook Analytics did offer an aggregate view of post trends; however, marketers were not able to drill down to get a more granular view of post-performance. This limited the value of the tool for building advanced marketing strategies.
The tool relied on the Facebook pixel, which led some consumer rights organizations to view it with suspicion due to privacy concerns. Since Facebook Analytics has gone away, marketers have found other dashboards that offer similar tracking options to fill the void.
Some useful replacements include Sprout Social and TapClicks, both of which offer more comprehensive measurement views and were already powerful competitors for Facebook Analytics. Many marketers who formerly relied on Facebook Analytics have now moved to those platforms.
How Facebook's Response Builds for Social Commerce Strategy
Facebook has split the information that was on the dashboard across its three UI platforms. Each tool serves a different need for business users.
Facebook Business Suite
The Facebook Business Suite serves as a central portal for managing media posted to Instagram and Facebook business accounts. It's an all-in-one platform that is useful for businesses with a presence on both apps.
Facebook Ads Manager
Facebook Ads Manager covers digital ad management, which is a feature that is expected to be present on social media platforms. Even TikTok has launched an ad manager for its growing campaign options.
Facebook Event Manager
Facebook Event Manager helps marketers link conversions activity on partner platforms, including ecommerce sites and CRMs. Like Facebook Analytics, it uses the Facebook Pixel. It also relies on the Conversion API.
Facebook Event Manager is a powerful and sophisticated tool that helps businesses better track and integrate Facebook activity into larger systems. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated, and Event Manager is a window into that sophistication. Consumer interest in social commerce has grown, especially among the coveted 18 to 34 demographic according to eMarketer.
The Loss of Facebook Analytics is an Opportunity to Evolve
With the closure of Facebook Analytics, brand owners were pushed to investigate Facebook's other tools and consider what was available elsewhere. Developing a marketing strategy that tapped the interests of that core demographic, could have benefited firms that were already using social commerce.
eMarketer predicts U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise "by 34.8% to $36.09 billion this year." Having tools that help integrate an overall view of social media response and sales conversion funnel is valuable for any marketer.
Marketers should see the discontinuation of Facebook Analytics as a positive, not a negative. In the process of rearranging their analytics stack, marketers may have found they've been missing out on some useful insights. View the closure of Facebook Analytics as a chance to rethink your marketing strategy and grow your audience.