April 18, 2012, 4:46 PM

‘Facebook gives marketers what they want’

The social network enables advertisers to track the ROI of Facebook ads.

Lead Photo

A look at the new tool from Facebook.

Facebook Inc. for the first time is enabling marketers to see what actions consumers take after seeing an ad on the social network. The aim is to enable marketers to measure whether Facebook ads a desired behavior, whether that’s a consumer making a purchase or saying she likes a new product.

Facebook says that it will roll out a revamped Ads Manager over the next few weeks to advertisers that enables them to gauge what post-click actions consumers take on Facebook or a Facebook-connected site after viewing an ad; actions can include buying virtual goods in a retailer’s application, posting a comment, sharing the post featured in the ad, or using an application. For example, a concert venue with a ticket app on its Facebook page could use Ads Manager to measure how many people used the app to buy tickets after seeing ads for the app on Facebook. Facebook-connected sites use the Open Graph, a Facebook technology that lets actions consumers take on outside web sites or in mobile apps to flow into Facebook.

“This gives marketers what they want—the ability to measure what matters,” says Rebecca Lieb, digital advertising analyst at research advisory firm Altimeter Group. “Measuring Likes is as effective as measuring clicks. In other words, it’s not very effective. Any campaign has objectives beyond clicks. And, whether it’s a conversion or action of some sort, Facebook says it is now giving marketers that ability to measure those goals.”

Advertisers will see a new metric in the social network’s dashboard called “actions,” which replaces a measure called “connections” that tracked how many shoppers Liked a page after seeing an ad. Marketers can now track behaviors over a one-, seven- or 28-day window.

Facebook’s previous tools only enabled marketers to optimize campaigns for clicks, Likes, application installations and check-ins. That method didn’t enable advertisers to track a clear path from a consumer seeing an ad to making a purchase.

The move makes it easier to gauge the impact of Facebook ads, says Lieb. “Marketers have more accountability thanks to the insights, which should presumably produce more effective campaigns,” she says. 

The evolution of Facebook’s Ads Manager program is the result of requests from marketers wanting to see what actions their paid efforts influenced, says a spokeswoman for the social network. 

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