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Facebook seeks more sensitive metrics

News, 15 July 2016

NEW YORK: As popular as leading social media sites may be with consumers, their measurable impact on advertising remains uncertain, admits the chief metrics officer at Facebook.

"At Facebook, although we are proud of diminishing the stature of irrelevant metrics, we share the responsibility for some that still litter your dashboards," Brad Smallwood, Facebook's VP/Measurement and Insights and head of its Marketing Science team, writes in the current issue of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

"No matter how hard we try to weed out remaining shiny metrics, entrenched behaviors are hard to change. We continue to tell you how many 'clicks' your video has generated, even though we have proven that clicks bear no correlation to sales, simply because you continue to ask."

In Resisting the Siren Call of Popular Digital Media Measures: Facebook Research Shows No Link between Trendy Online Measures and Ad Effectiveness, Smallwood describes the world's biggest social-media platform's early struggles with assessing the value of popular metrics – such as building a brand's fan base and using the topic data.

Facebook's own research eventually found those metrics to have no impact on brands' performance and, as a result, has diminished the stature of "shiny" metrics such as users' "Likes," "Shares," and message posts.

In his JAR contribution, Smallwood urges C-suite executives to empower their organisations to become more data-literate and elevate the role of analytics in the decision-making process. For Facebook's role in that conversion, "We are determined to move forward, look for real measures of value instead of proxies, and move away from the CPM economy to the value economy," wrote Smallwood.

"It will take courage, effort, and science to abandon the comfort of the easily measured and replace it with the relentless focus on value. When this is achieved, however, marketing will have the tools to drive organic revenue growth and the authority to lead our organisations forward."

"Resisting the Siren Call of Popular Digital Media Measures", and the full contents of the latest issue of JAR, can be found at www.journalofadvertisingresearch.com.

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff