Privacy cleanup sees Facebook retiring free analytics tools on June 30th

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Facebook Analytics is going away. Facebook has announced that the free tool used for tracking interactions with Facebook ads will not be available after 30th June, 2021. The timing of the move suggests the social network is tidying up its tracking tools ahead of Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes.

  • Facebook Analytics was launched to provide a Google Analytics style cross-device measurement solution. It connects data from a Facebook Page with data from the Facebook pixel to track the conversion path from Facebook ads, comments or posts to app or website transactions.
  • Uptake of the analytics tools was never strong, with developers preferring more ‘robust’ product analytics. “It could bring some punctual insights about demographics that many developers don’t have as first-party data,” said mobile growth consultant Thomas Petit. “[But] I have never seen FB Analytics as a potential replacement for product analytics.”
  • Regardless of popularity, reliance on the potentially problematic pixel has motivated Facebook to retire a service that could create privacy concerns down the line. “This looks like they are just sunsetting something that nobody’s really using,” said Madan Bharadwaj of testing startup Measured. “The bigger issues for brands are still the crackdown on tracking”.
Before the deadline

Not everyone is happy about Facebook analytics going away. Agency CEO Daniel Pearson wrote on Twitter: “I use FBA multiple times a week. For SMBs who have no other way to cohort their customer journeys, it’s best in class. It’s also free. Deprecation will be a big loss for a lot of brands, whether they recognize it or not”.

Until June 30th, Facebook Analytics users will be able to access reports and export charts and tables (data can be exported into a CSV file from within charts and tables). Looking past the end of June, Facebook is pointing users at other business tools to help them understand advertising interactions on Facebook and Instagram. These include:

  • Facebook Business Suite, to manage Facebook and Instagram business accounts and show detailed insights on audience, content and trends.
  • Ads Manager, to view, change and analyse results for all Facebook campaigns, advertising sets and advertisements.
  • Events Manager, to set up and manage Facebook Business tools including the Facebook pixel and Conversions API and review actions taken on websites and apps.
Privacy first

Emphasising the industry commitment to preserving privacy online, Google has reiterated that it will not replace third-party cookies with anything equally invasive. This comes despite the potentially negative impact the change will have on Google’s advertising business.

In a blog post early in March, Google stated that it “will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web” after third-party cookies are gone. The search giant’s approach is to prevent tracking of individuals, instead relying on, “Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers.”

The loss of individual tracking solutions like Facebook Analytics may not cause marketers too many problems. But the retirement of the tool and Google’s ongoing efforts to develop post-cookie tracking solutions are evidence that, what AdExchanger calls ‘the macro privacy-related changes’ taking place in ad-tech continue to be “very much in play”.

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