August 19, 2014, 12:03 PM

A Facebook test shows how the social network might use Instagram

The social network is testing how shoppers respond when they see an ad on Facebook from the same advertiser whose ad they saw on Instagram. The test could have broad implications, says one expert.

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Facebook Inc. is testing how consumers respond when they see an ad on Facebook from the same advertiser whose ad they saw on Instagram.

The social network says the exercise aims to find out how it can provide more value to advertisers by determining how to best take advantage of the two platforms and that it isn’t examining targeting, retargeting or delivery.

Even so, the test marks the first time the social network has integrated advertising on Facebook and Instagram, which it bought two years ago.

The test shows the social network is working to better understand how and when consumers respond to ads on Facebook and Instagram, which should help it improve ad attribution, says Lou Kerner, a social media analyst and investor at The Social Internet Fund.

“The reason that Google has been so successful is because it’s simple to see that someone clicks and buys something,” he says. “But often that’s only the last piece in a much larger funnel. Facebook is trying to understand how Facebook and Instagram advertising leads to that search, which, if it can demonstrate, will undoubtedly increase the value of those ads.”

The test comes at the same time Facebook is rolling out cross-device reporting that will let advertisers see how shoppers move between devices—across mobile apps and the web—before they convert.

By giving marketers more tools to understand how ads influence shoppers, Facebook aims to make its ads a crucial cog in advertisers’ marketing mix, Kerner says.

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