Facebook banking on exclusivity, conversion tracking

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I've said and have heard it said by others that social media is a marketing equalizer. About that ... Sure, it's cheaper to operate a Facebook Page than to manage an email marketing program, but that's kids' stuff. Two stories dropped last Wednesday that parade how premium Facebook can be.

An entire industry has been built around using Facebook for marketing. Brands hire employees or pay outside companies to manage Facebook Pages, run Facebook Ads, develop apps for Facebook and analyze everything related to a brand's Facebook presence. That's become the ante for Facebook marketing. And while Facebook has done well to work with companies like American Express to bring small businesses up to speed, news that Heineken has signed a deal with Facebook for early access to Facebook products and brand-building expertise from the company itself makes clear how far many marketers still have to come.

But the Heineken partnership is public information. Even more painful for the average Facebook marketer is a Techcrunch report that Facebook has been secretly offering downstream conversion tracking to a “handful of prominent advertisers.” Facebook ran a beta for a conversion tracking tool in 2010 but supposedly discontinued the product in September, according to Inside Facebook. Psych!

Turns out, Facebook has been putting a tracking pixel on the conversion pages of these chosen few that can correspond conversions with what ads the converting consumer has seen and then sharing that anonymized analytics report with the “handful of prominent advertisers.” This is social ROI, the pursuit of which has dumbfounded even top-dollar marketers such as E-Trade.

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