Facebook to help marketers track consumers across devices

Facebook is looking to show advertisers how powerful mobile ads on its service can be in generating sales with the launch of a new reporting tool that lets brands see how people move between devices before they purchase.

Facebook cross device 460

The service tells advertisers which device a consumer has seen their ad on and on which device they performed an action, such as making a purchase or signing up to receive newsletters. The move means Facebook will be able to show advertisers when a mobile ad led to a desktop purchase and vice versa.

Facebook does already offer advertisers the ability to track conversions across devices but hinted on its most recent earnings call that it was looking to give marketers more data on how users go from viewing ads online to making purchases on other platforms. Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg claimed this was a “real advantage” for Facebook because it knows people’s real identity across desktop and mobile.

The tool works by Facebook placing trackers on advertisers’ websites and mobile apps, with brands able to choose which conversion they want measured – for example viewing certain web pages, adding products to a basket or making a purchase.

If the person does convert, Facebook can then trace their activity backwards to work out where they saw an ad for that brand on the social network. In early testing, Facebook claims that marketers have used the tool to better understand the role of mobile in campaigns and to gather more knowledge on cross-device shopping behaviour.

Facebook is keen to prove that mobile advertising offers conversion opportunities on other platforms. More and more users are accessing the social network via mobile but brands remain unsure of the role of mobile in the purchase process, with many reluctant to devote ad dollars to mobile because they see it as less of a purchasing platform.

However, figures from eMarketer show that consumers are increasingly shopping on mobile, with more than 100 million people expected to do so in the US this year, representing 62 per cent of digital buyers, according to eMarketer. Of those, 86.8 per cent will buy on tablet and 64.2 per cent on smartphones.

Facebook is increasingly reliant on mobile ads, which accounted for 62 per cent of its ad revenue in the second quarter, up from 41 per cent a year ago. Emarketer predicts that percentage will rise to two-thirds by the end of the year.