What to do with erroneous Facebook data

Last week, Facebook had to admit that impression data was reported incorrectly. The good news is that reach was usually under-reported, so if anything you’ll notice a slight bump in your reach and impressions.

Those of you who are data geeks may have also noticed that paid reach figures are weird, too, especially if you’re running promoted posts. (See below for paid, organic, and viral reach as reported on a single timeline post.) The paid numbers are showing differently.

facebook ad data

Part of that could be the near real-time posts reporting on a different schedule than the ads tool, potential page post ads that aren’t being captured in a promoted post, or other known bugs that affect reporting.

When you see conflicting numbers, the best rule of thumb is to go with what’s in the ads system at facebook.com/ads/manage. And instead of looking at reach or impressions, focus on clicks and conversions.

Unless you’re a big brand, you probably don’t care about fuzzy top-of-funnel metrics — go for real ROI. More fans are great, but conversions are better.

As a footnote, we’ve gotten some heat from the PR and sales team at Facebook for pointing out bugs that need to be fixed. To be clear, we think Facebook is doing a great job in providing data and moving quickly. And the faster they can fix bugs in insights, the more confidence brands will have in advertising, which will lead only to more ad revenues.

Facebook should openly embrace these fixes– it makes for a better ecosystem for everyone. But meanwhile, here are some workarounds.

- Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu

About Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of Portage. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He is also an author at InsideFacebook and AllFacebook. Dennis has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. He studied Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at dennis@portage.co, his blog, or on Facebook.
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