Advertiser Confusion Led to Shutdown of Facebook Conversion Tracking Tool

When Facebook closed a private beta of a conversion tracking tool earlier this month that would have allowed advertisers to see whether users actually visited their website or made purchases later on, it raised questions about the effectiveness of the social network’s ads.

But engineers on the product say confusion among users led to the product shutdown, according to a page on Quora, a question-and-answer site founded by Facebook’s first CTO that’s popular with many of its employees.

Speaking on his own and not officially for the company, software engineer Cliff Chang wrote:

Basically, there are a lot of small reasons we got rid of it, but the main driving reason was that our advertisers were bad at using it. Some hilarious percent of people who generated pixels never received a single impression on them, and of those that did, a lot of them just threw them directly on their landing page. This was probably our fault in making the product hard to use, but this resulted in a lot of operational overhead for our user support.

Chang said he wrote the code to turn the product off. He added that few advertisers used the product properly outside of agencies that were already using competitive products. Without the tool, advertisers now have to calculate their own ROI or use a third party tool.

Another intern who worked on Facebook ads, Amar Anand, said that conversion tracking wasn’t really appropriate for Facebook’s style of advertising, which focuses on consumers earlier in the buying cycle. In contrast, Google’s ads target consumers when they already have a decent idea of products and services they want and search for them.

“Instead of conversion tracking tools, tools that measure brand lift and brand engagement are much more relevant to the Facebook ads product,” he said.

He wrote:

Facebook ads will still drive sales and brand recognition, but ad clicks will not drive those sales in the short term.  Someone looking through photos of their friends is not going to simply see a Sony ad, click on the ad, and then buy a TV.  They may be compelled enough to like Sony’s fan page and read about updates, contests, and promotions from Sony and then be convinced to buy a Sony product down the line.  But ad clicks on Facebook will not lead to many direct response sales.

Of course if Facebook or other third-party tools can’t definitively prove that the site’s ads eventually lead to increased purchases or sales, even if it’s in the very long run, enthusiasm from marketers about the social network’s performance ads may wane.

One Facebook advertising client, Taylor McKnight, who works with music site HypeMachine and two other startups, expressed some skepticism about Facebook’s ability to deliver conversions. He said he used the tool for a few weeks and didn’t see any conversions, so he stopped using the product.

“I literally laughed out loud when I saw they discontinued conversion tracking a week later,” he said.

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Leave a Reply

8 Responses to “Advertiser Confusion Led to Shutdown of Facebook Conversion Tracking Tool”

  1. koningwoning says:

    I never understood this by Facebook…. they obviously don’t understand their own pros & cons.

    FB is great at creating brand equity, bad at creating sales. Everyone knows this. That is what you should use FB (& social in general) for.
    So what they SHOULD HAVE been tracking is wether or not someone becomes a member of the facebook page…. and how active that person becomes. And he afterwards writes about the brand in Facebook.

    And maybe… just maybe…. they should have measuredwhat the rate is of conversion when you have conversion topics posted (brand x now gives 20% off for 2 days at shop y)…. but aparantly they just started believing in their own God myth.

  2. spanky says:

    And people buying ads don’t care about how much it costs to acquire a fan? Where have all the experienced media buyers gone? I don’t care if you are a direct-response or branded media buyer, you still care about CPA…

  3. frustrated says:

    It is never a good sign when an ad network won’t support conversion tracking. I find it difficult to believe they can’t figure out a way to to make this work. Unless, they don’t want to make this work.

  4. alex says:

    The way Google is bad at creating a successful social media site, Facebook is bad at creating viable revenue models. Almost all companies or people use Facebook for brand uplift or for self promotion. This is the reality in today’s scenario!

  5. Facebook Failed Conversion Tracker – A harbinger of future failures? says:

    [...] shut down its Conversion Tracking tool this week. Much has been said about this topic from Facebook ads just don’t convert to the ads are places for high [...]

  6. ddd marketing says:

    I completely agree with “frustrated”. The excuses from FB sound so fake its ridiculous. There are only a couple reasons FB would have killed this, and user confusion is not one of them. Either they didn’t want their users to see how poorly the ads were converting or else they have something else coming up in the near future that Conversion Tracking would have interfered with. No one in the agency world is happy about this one. FB is doing a great job of alienating a lot of advertisers.


  7. How To Do FaceBook Conversion Tracking | DIY-Cash says:

    [...] used to have it’s own conversion tracking system, but due to unknown reasons they had it shut down. Perhaps they were worried that advertisers would start to realize just how bad their conversion [...]

  8. How To Do FaceBook Conversion Tracking | says:

    [...] used to have it’s own conversion tracking system, but due to unknown reasons they had it shut down. Perhaps they were worried that advertisers would start to realize just how bad their conversion [...]

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