Brands explain why Facebook misreporting doesn't alter their perception

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 16 December 2016

Facebook has received plenty of heat in recent months since it revealed some of its metrics have been misreported and in many instances figures were inflated.

After three revelations it has got measurement wrong, there are many within marketing, media and advertising baying for blood, questioning the credibility of the platform and whether it has lived up to the hype and justified the huge marketing budget swings away from traditional media and towards digital.

Media agency leaders, marketers and other industry leaders are calling on digital media to sort out its metrics and ensure there is independent verification. 

While the misreporting scandal has caused many to pause and reflect, there are also plenty of marketers who stand by the platform, valuing its strengths, such as targeting, interaction and reach.

AdNews approached three brands that use Facebook extensively to gather their thoughts on misreporting, whether it had dented their confidence and how they measure success.

GM Holden

GM Holden uses Facebook to meet a variety of specific marketing objectives, which includes distributing above the line creative, content, a call to action driver and as part of its targeting and retargeting strategy.

“Sometimes we look at it purely on media metrics, other times we consider engagement metrics and in some cases, such as junior State of Origin where we ran mobile-first content around storytelling we looked at how people had engaged with creative and its impact on consideration and other brand metrics. We use it across the funnel,” says Paul Balbo, senior manager of marketing and brands.

The major strength of Facebook for Balbo is its reach, targeting capability and the interactivity with an audience, while he believes a weakness has been brands not creating content tailored to the platform.

Next year, Holden will begin creating bespoke Facebook creative in order to improve its effectiveness.

“The interactivity exposes you as a brand, if you don’t have good creative you won’t get engagement. You have to earn an audience to engage with you on Facebook, which is where some marketers go wrong.

“While there is a lot of commentary out the with discrepancies of measurement, we do track it at our end as well. We’re asking for more information on what went wrong and how they’re going to resolve it,” Balbo says.

“It’s something we are going to keep an eye on but them coming out and admitting there is a problem gives us confidence that they do have their client best interests at heart.”

Balbo says where you spend marketing budgets should be determined by your objective. At Holden, there isn’t a brand awareness problem, but rather a focus on consideration, where digital media can be effective. 

Kathmandu

Outdoor and adventure retailer Kathmandu uses the social media platform throughout the funnel to target two key audiences, millennial adventurers and middle-aged family adventurers.

“At the top end we use FB to engage, inspire and inform our customers with our content. It gives us the ability to tell stories through video, its more cost efficient for us than TV,” social media manager Paul Lester tells AdNews.

“Further down the funnel we use those engaged audiences, and draw them back to content on the Kathmandu website. Finally, we retarget them with more product specific messages based on their behaviour and intent.”

Through offline event tracking Kathmandu is able to attribute Facebook activity to instore purchase, closing the loop and providing a measure on ROAS.

Lester says that because its audience is highly engaged with its content, it can achieve low cost per video views and cost per click metrics.

“But the challenge with a lot of digital metrics is that they are proxies, and difficult to tie back to actual business return. There are a lot of metrics, especially in the social space, that are pure vanity… in our case the business goals are site conversion and website clicks, we need to always keep that focus,” he adds.

While he has monitored Facebook’s misreporting revelations it hasn’t altered his perception of the platform's value.

“Transparency of methodology is great, but at the end of the day a metric like a video view is only worth so much as a KPI. We get value from the whole picture, online and offline, not one KPI in isolation,” he adds.

Country Road 

Fashion retailer Country Road uses Facebook to drive incremental revenue and traffic growth online and instore, awareness and engagement, as a customer service channel and for audience insights.

Country Road currently doesn’t use TV as an advertising platform but says Facebook has been the most effective platform for digital video, particularly when it comes to targeting.

It measures effectiveness by trying to compare different digital channels by using a standard metric across the board. This has been difficult due to a lack of comparable metrics between digital media companies. Among the digital channels Country Road uses, Facebook leads the way in terms of ROI.

“The trick here is that you look at these various channels (TV and digital) in isolation rather than looking at the overall customer journey and what role each part of your media mix is contributing,” says Col Kennedy, the GM of brand and customer experience.

“You also need to consider the role it is playing. You might have some media channels that do the heavy lifting but others that are needed at certain point of the customer journey.”

He said the misreporting revelations hadn’t shaken his confidence in the platform because Country Road uses its own data to cross-check effectiveness against ROI.

“When we look Facebook coming out with its misreporting, from our perspective we will always cross-check ROI with our own metrics and we are seeing positivity in this space," Kennedy adds.

“From a negotiation point of view we might want to say where are we at and what’s the pricing model but it doesn’t affect my perception of the platform.

“The ultimate solution is that you should never rely on their platform data alone. You should always bring it in-house and compare it against what you are registering and an overall ROI model. 

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