sign reading "goodbye friends" left on a conference room table
PHOTO: Jan Tinneberg

When a digital tool is replaced, the drama can unfold like a soap opera, as people who use the tool follow along wondering what will replace it. The latest announcement in the analytics world is the discontinuation of Facebook Analytics. Facebook will retire its analytics tool June 30.

Facebook Analytics is a standalone dashboard that measures post-engagement activity such as monthly active users, post reactions and share activity. Marketers use Facebook Analytics to gauge how post performance has improved or declined among Facebook users. But developers and marketing analysts never adopted Facebook Analytics at the same rates as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics.  

According to the Facebook announcement, three user interfaces will effectively act as replacement sources for the metrics Facebook Analytics provided: Facebook Business Suite, Ads Manager and Events Manager. To understand the decision, it is essential to consider the evolution of social media dashboards and the shifting interest in ecommerce.

Facebook Analytics Reflects Declining Interest in Panel Data

Facebook Analytics was meant to display panel data, data which has a filtered view. Analysts typically consider the results trustworthy because the analysts trust the source, rather than creating a dashboard that statistically verifies the results. Over the brief history of social media platforms, many of the platforms' analytics features offered panel metrics. Twitter Analytics, which I covered here, is an example.

But analysts have a burgeoning interest in identifying data sources, heightened by recent privacy legislation. The result is a declining interest in panel metrics. Google, for example, eliminated Affinity Reports from its latest version of Google Analytics. Affinity Reports revealed subject interests of site visitors using panel data that inferred from online activity. But the metrics were reported only above a threshold traffic volume to eliminate the possibility of identifying individuals through inferring the demographics or interests of an individual. Doing so violated the spirit of privacy measures, which require permission to identify an individual. Thus panel metrics have limited value for an aggregate view of trends. 

Although it relied on the Facebook pixel to establish Facebook page metrics, Facebook Analytics only provided an aggregate view of post trends without the capability to drill down deeper to guide marketers into an advanced strategy.

Other dashboard options have worked to fill in the gaps. Marketers turned to independent dashboard providers, such as Sprout Social and TapClicks, for more comprehensive measurement views. These vendor options competed with Facebook Analytics for marketer interest.

Marketer's declining interest in panel analytics may be accelerated further as adoption of the Apple App Tracking Transparency protocol continues (I explained the impact of ATT in this post). Apple's decision to ask iPhone and iPad users whether or not they want to be tracked by apps will influence the accuracy of Facebook Analytics for ads advertising business pages or posts when the sizeable page follower count includes iPhone or iPad users.

Related Article: The Demise of the Cookie and the Rise of First-Party Data

How Facebook's Response Builds for Social Commerce Strategy

While no dashboard is on the horizon, the three Facebook UI platforms are better suited for business users' current needs. Facebook Business Suite is a central portal for managing media across Instagram and Facebook business accounts — a convenient choice for marketers who rely on both platforms to execute strategy. Ads Manager covers digital ad management, which is expected from social media platforms — even TikTok has launched an ad manager for its growing campaign options. 

The most intriguing opportunity for marketers lies in Event Manager. Event Manager is meant for linking conversion activity on partner platforms, such as ecommerce and CRMs through the Facebook pixel and conversion API. The rising sophistication of social commerce means this portal is the best chance for marketers to integrate their Facebook activity into larger systems that lead to better sales management. Consumer interest in social commerce has grown, especially among the coveted 18 to 34 demographic according to eMarketer. Developing a centralized sales management that taps into such commerce interests would strengthen the efforts of firms that have already established a foothold in social commerce. With eMarketer predicting 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 will be valuable.  

The announcement of the sunsetting of Facebook Analytics leaves little time to adjust. Users can review Facebook Analytics reports and insights, as well as export charts and tables, until the June end date.

Marketers should see the discontinuation of Facebook Analytics as a positive, not a negative. Take this time to assess your measurement stack and rearrange your analytic integrations as needed.