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Measuring Facebook: Advertisers Lament Insights Data Lag

  |  February 27, 2012   |  Comments

Facebook has been as much as a week off in brand page reporting.

Advertisers checking their Facebook Insights data today won't find information reflecting consumer interactions with their brand pages on Oscars night, or any time during the weekend for that matter. The most recent data available is for Friday, February 24. That time lag in Insights data - showing information such as how many people have viewed a brand's content - is actually an improvement. In the recent past, Facebook has been as much as a week off in brand page reporting.

"That's been…happening since I can remember, but recently it's a lot worse," said Misi McClelland, metrics and media director at Ignite Social Media, regarding the Insights information gap.

"Sometimes it's been a week" of data missing, she said. "And sometimes there have been glitches in the data." 

A notice posted by Facebook in the Insights interface acknowledges the problem. "During the past few weeks you may have noticed delays to your insights data. We're sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused and want you to know that we're working to resolve these issues and make sure they don't happen in the future."

When asked about the delays, and a TechCrunch story reporting that Insights will reflect real-time or near real-time data in the future, Facebook said it had nothing to announce.

McClelland relies on Insights data to manage pages for large corporate brands. Advertisers spend money to develop contests and other custom page features to get consumers to visit their pages.

Many brands investing in Facebook pages buy ads on the site to help drive people to them. However, while brand pages are integral to Facebook paid advertising, the company provides only "limited support" for page managers using Insights, said McClelland. On the other hand, she said, the company devotes more resources to its advertising performance analytics service.

"If something is four days behind, that makes it very difficult for us to be flexible with decision making," said McClelland. "You're trying to build consistency and report out weekly or biweekly." If her agency aims to provide numbers to clients every Wednesday, for instance, the erratic Insights data can prevent a regularly scheduled client report.

Facebook Insights is a good gauge of trends, but "it's not something you can be actionable on," said Peter Heffring, CEO of Facebook analytics firm Expion.

When McClelland spoke with ClickZ Friday, Facebook Insights data was four days behind, or "like a month in marketing time," she added. That four-day lag was reflected on WhyIsFacebookInsightsNotWorking.com, a site built by Facebook analytics firm Page Lever. The goal of the site is to "give everyone a simple site to see how far behind you should be," states the site.

According to McClelland, there are no third party tools available to fill in the gaps in data for Insights metrics, which include Total Likes, Friends of Fans, and Weekly Total Reach.


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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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