This month, Facebook published a blog post that announced new measurement partnerships. As a continuation of their efforts to examine their systems and protect people’s privacy, Facebook is also making updates to the way third-party view tags work. With that in mind, let's take a look at what this announcement means for advertisers and why Facebook is doing this now.
What is Happening?
Beginning July 1st, Facebook will only allow select view tag providers (namely Nielsen and comScore) to count impressions on — for verification purposes only — and view tags will no longer be able to aid in measurement beyond counting. Impressions will be counted through a secure sever-to-server integration, which will allow these approved tag vendors to record when an impression is served. This new integration will be incompatible with cookies, which means third-party view tags, such as DoubleClick, will no longer work for impression tracking. All that said, all existing campaigns using tags from Facebook-approved partners will migrate to this new server-to-server system of impression tracking starting October 1st. As a result, advertisers who utilize view tags from vendors that are not Facebook-approved will no longer be able to utilize those view tags for any purpose.
Why is this Happening?
View Tag Measurement Is Outdated - Historically, view tags could be used by advertisers to count impressions for measurement and/or attribution purposes. However, there are limitations with data collection, namely that view-tags are an outdated tool for measurement that can only capture desktop (or mobile web) impressions. Advertisers utilizing view tags have been unable to measure within the Facebook and Instagram apps, where most impressions are served.
User Privacy Protection - In addition to improving view tag functionality, Facebook is taking a “consumer first” approach to protect user privacy. This migration will more accurately count impressions while being incompatible with cookies, meaning third-parties will no longer be able to use view tags for attribution measurement. This is an unsurprising move by the social conglomerate following the user privacy concerns that have come to light in recent months.
What does this Mean for Advertisers?
Better Verification & Measurement - Facebook’s view tag policy update will allow advertisers to more accurately track impressions holistically across their campaigns. Historically, view tags provided an incomplete view of ad performance because they are desktop-browser centric, do not measure in mobile apps, are not suited for cross-device tracking, and are not a sophisticated way of doing effective verification and measurement in today’s mobile world. Additionally, view tags could only be implemented on campaigns that did not utilize custom audiences. This change will allow advertisers to focus on third-party Facebook Measurement Partners by providing a more holistic view of ad effectiveness across all audiences, browsers, apps, and devices.
More Reliable Tracking Capabilities - Not only will the tagging and tracking become easier, but it will also become more reliable. The server-to-server integration allows advertisers to track impressions more efficiently through a direct connection, without the use of cookie data. Also, third-party view tag servers would historically receive user/impression information when the code fired on the user’s side. Now the data is being sent securely from Facebook to the respective tagging partner when an impression has been served, cookie-free. As a result, Facebook users will have a smaller risk of their personal data being exposed to third parties.
Enhanced Reporting Insight - View tag reporting has never been a great measurement of success, but this migration to a server-to-server approach will allow advertisers the opportunity to better understand their consumers. They will now have a chance to truly see where and how their audiences are consuming ads and will have the ability to design a more customized attribution formula based on Facebook performance in relation to other platform data. Though the migration is currently limited to specific partners, this is an exciting transition for Facebook, advertisers and users alike.
For the record, view tags on Facebook are not being completely deprecated. This change is simply to limit the measurement capabilities to impression counting and the ability to utilize them to select measurement partners. Advertisers will need use to use only Facebook approved measurement partners (i.e. Nielsen, comScore, Moat, Marketshare, and Kochava) in an effort to better protect users’ privacy and move toward a more future-facing approach.
Carrie Hersh, Manager, Paid Social, also contributed to this post.