Driving the performance of mobile apps (and only that?) with Facebook Analytics

Data Architecture 27 February 2017

With Analytics, Facebook gives app publishers a powerful and comprehensive platform to drive the performance of their mobile apps, even if it means saying goodbye to specialised tools and becoming more enclosed in the Facebook ecosystem.

A wide range of tools is now available on a market reaching maturity

Between Firebase, Fabric, Localytics, MixPanel, and Facebook Analytics, we’re losing count of the number of tools for mobile apps. They promise an all-in-one solution that responds to developer and marketer expectations for reporting, analytics, crash monitoring, and push notifications.

Mainly based on a freemium model featuring a mix of free and paid services, these solutions are ideal for quick app launches, which allow user expectations to be met as soon as possible. These advantages make all the difference considering how difficult it can be to select tools to measure app activity and to use all the capabilities that mobile platforms offer.

This is the highly competitive market on which the Menlo Park group launched its Facebook Analytics tool in March 2015, which bundles tools for gathering data, attributing media, and the transmission of push notifications on a single platform.

Facebook reveals powerful tools to establish personalised relationships with users

With user clickstreams now spanning desktops, mobile web, and apps, driving performance during sessions is becoming less and less coherent. On this subject, Facebook is taking a stand and simply deleting this information from its new tool’s KPIs.

Analyses carried out through Facebook Analytics remain focused on the user, with the promises this implies.

First, native reports contain detailed behavioural data. In terms of attribution, downloads from Facebook Ads are directly integrated, for example. Cohort analysis is optimised, to inform precise retention reports that have a high added value for those that wish to increase user loyalty. Next, the possibility of enhancing reports with personalised events offers extra depth to the analysis. It is thus possible to integrate business indicators for free (such as content typology for publishers or product characteristics for e-retailers) to efficiently reconcile clickstream data and conversion objectives.

Following the example of mainstream web analytics tools, Facebook Analytics also has an intuitive and powerful segmentation module. Other tools on the market already offer the possibility of isolating users according to traffic source or device, but the precision and reliability of Facebook’s declarative socio-demographic data gives Analytics a considerable advantage. This advantage is even greater because the tool can directly activate those segmented audiences via a comprehensive and functional push notifications tool.

Despite existing limitations, Facebook Analytics could become the go-to tool for driving app performance, overshadowing specialised players on the market

By combining analytics and push notifications, Facebook is also providing its users with a tool for measuring and attributing downloads. In some ways, the tool is already infringing upon the domain of specialised competitors such as Tune or AppsFlyer. Except, the capacity for analysis is limited since only Facebook channels are taken into consideration. Advertisers are thus becoming very dependent on the Facebook ecosystem and of the acquisition levers available on its network: Facebook Ads.

Even if Facebook’s strategy seems to encourage using its advertising network as much as possible, it is unlikely that the tool will remain limited to only these channels. It is possible that, one day, monitoring of download campaigns across custom channels will be available. The tool would probably not remain free, but if these hypotheses are true, Facebook Analytics could become a unique platform to drive app performance, integrating a real attribution tool to what already exists (Analytics/Crash/Push). This kind of tool would likely garner dependence, and Facebook could achieve a worrying feat, ousting all its competitors in the mobile attribution market.

Even more so if the Menlo Park giant manages to keep the biggest promise of this tool: reconcile web and app journeys!
With the combined presence of the pixel on websites and the SDK in apps, plus its user unique ID, Facebook Analytics could follow users across their online journeys, regardless of browser and device.
It’s a nice promise, but more in-depth feedback is needed to confirm this innovation and to prove that this reconciliation is effective.

It remains to be seen whether the reconciliation will be sufficient to convince advertisers to immerse themselves definitively in the Facebook ecosystem and to change the performance-monitoring tools for all their digital assets, from websites to mobile apps, including the Messenger bot.

Translated from the original French by Niamh Cloughley.

Note: The former name of Facebook Analytics was Facebook Analytics for Apps.
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