Why Running Without Conversion Controls Could Be Costing You $$$$’s

facebook-300x202Embraced by CMO’s for its upper funnel brand awareness and rejected by CEO’s as not being data focused, Facebook’s proprietary ‘Like’ metric, may soon fade away for the ‘view’ as Facebook looks to dominate Google in the display ad world.

Controlling a significant chunk of available ad inventory, Facebook’s move could spell trouble for CMO’s not employing proper Conversion Controls.

The ‘View’ is nothing new.  A user sees a display ad, it creates brand awareness, which eventually leads to a conversion or sale.  Yada, Yada, Yada.  All Insertion Orders account for ‘view’ based conversions and provide for a ‘view-through window’ or period of time from the view to the conversion for when credit can still be received.

Considering that Facebook is the #1 most engaging site, with the most amount of time spent per user and is now using views, reports such as these on TechCrunch are not surprising:

  • Xaxis:  22% lower cost-per-order for a QSR
  • Triggit:  4X ROI
  • MediaMath:  4X Conversion Rate
  • TradeDesk:  CPA cut by 50%
  • SocialCode:  87% of conversions from Views, not clicks
  • Kenshoo:  34.6% of conversions from Views, not clicks

And Viewable Impressions, the #1 issue for every ad network is not a problem for Facebook, as all of their ads are ‘designed’ to be seen.  Although they may not yet fit the new standard of being in view for 1-second, the standards are still in a state of flux.

Now using the ‘view’, Facebook has documented return on ad spend, which was never seen with the ‘like’. CMO’s now have proof to take to their data centric CEO’s, but should they?

The Problem with the Facebook ‘View’

The problem is fundamental to how the ‘view’ works in relationship Facebook’s reach.

A ‘view tag’ is a cookie set on a user’s browser with details on a particular ad containing details such as ad size, ad type, ad location, etc.  When a user converts or completes a sale, the ‘view tag’ matches with a feedback call to the ad network indicating success.  Although a user may accumulate a hundred or more view tags for the same advertising campaign, only the last view tag wins and receives the feedback call.

With approximately 28% of all display inventory, there’s a high degree of likelihood the last ‘view tag’ received is from Facebook.  Now mixed in with regular Facebook ads are Retargeted ads; which are only shown to users which have previously visited a website.  This greatly increases the chance of a Facebook ad being the last ‘view tag’.

A Bad Situation Gets Worse

1800FlowersAutomatic page refreshing compounds the Facebook View problem and it’s particularly worse when users have multiple tabs open.

For example, while a user is on Facebook, this 1800Flowers ad appears at the top of their news stream.

The user decides to shop for some ‘Jimmy Choo’ shoes, opens up a new tab and types in ‘jimmy choo shoes’ into Google search and clicks on the first paid search listing.

jimmy choo google search


After clicking thru and spending 15 minutes making a selection, the user adds the Clue Glitter Slingback Pump to their shopping cart.


And here’s where the domination for Facebook starts to kick in

While in the middle of checking out, the user sees a notification pop-up on Facebook that a friend has just commented on a post.  As they quickly click on the Facebook tab, the ads refresh to reveal the following ad at the top:


Although the user does not click on the Nordstrom’s ad, a ‘view tag’ is set.  The user returns to complete the purchase on Nordstrom and Facebook receives credit for the sale.

This is great news for Facebook and for their shareholders, but for a CMO looking for maximum return on ad spend, the Facebook ‘view’ could fundamentally skew results.

Conversion Control Is Needed

Any CMO utilizing the new Facebook ‘view’ should require a ‘time conversion control’ to prevent ads from receiving credit just moments before the user completes the sale.  In an advisory issued to clients earlier this year, C3 Metrics’ recommended adding Time Conversion Control into any campaign running with Facebook views.

The new Facebook ‘view’, which by virtue of Facebook’s reach, view tag fundamentals and retargeting will soon be receiving a lion’s share of conversions, unless CMO’s are utilizing fully-connected platforms with time conversion controls (such as C3 Metrics) to keep their ROI in check.