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Will Analytics Updates Keep Facebook Marketers Happy?

How does Facebook fend off scandal? By doubling down on its bread and butter: the brands, marketers and advertisers hungry for the treasure trove of consumer data amassed by one of the world’s largest social networks.

As the annual F8 developer conference got underway on May 1, the social media company detailed changes to its commerce-focused analytics service and rolled out a new Facebook Analytics mobile app for Android and iOS designed to help marketers stay on top of their Facebook performance while on the go. It was “only a matter of time” before Facebook launched an Analytics app, as marketing competitors like Adobe and Google already have a mobile-focused offering, Omar Akhtar, industry analyst focusing on digital marketing and innovation for The Altimeter Group, told Sourcing Journal.

Though the early days of brands’ social media presences were initially about likes and follows, today’s marketers are focused on the concrete dollars and cents of monetizing their investments in social media. In a blog post, the Mark Zuckerberg-helmed social media company unveiled Journeys by Facebook Analytics, designed to provide a “holistic view of the different interactions people have with your business before converting, making a purchase or subscribing.”

Facebook emphasized the omnichannel aspect of the Journeys feature, noting that it helps businesses “identify patterns in behavior that lead to conversions.” These granular insights—which could be discovering that individuals who interact with a brand through Messenger then spend most of their time in the brand’s app—could help companies optimize their marketing spend and performance, Facebook said.

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Journeys aggregates consumer data in order to protect privacy, which undoubtedly is top of mind for businesses in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica unauthorized data-access scandal—and ultimately forced the British firm to shut down.

In the Analytics mobile app, users can personalize their overview tab to see the metrics that matter most, review automated insights and receive alerts when there are any standout changes or anomalies.

Akhtar said the analytics news shows Facebook’s true ambitions. “What’s really interesting is Facebook getting into territory occupied by dedicated martech giants like Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce,” Aktar said. In particular, offering omnichannel insights plays into a “big trend” in modern marketing—having all customer behavioral data in one place. Plus, Facebook Analytics is cheaper than paying for unified platforms from competitors, Akhtar noted.

However, Facebook Analytics remains a tool best wielded by small and mid-sized businesses, which typically don’t have a lot of resources or the sophistication to pay for robust analytics and rely on the social platform to build audiences.

Akhtar, who attended the F8 conference, said the event focused very little on information for marketers, in contrast to last year when “it was all about open access API.” It’s likely that marketing took a backseat to consumer-facing developments in light of the Cambridge Analytica fallout, Akhtar said.