Laura Petrolino

Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics: Which Should You Use?

By: Laura Petrolino | June 18, 2018 | 

Facebook Analytics vs. Google AnalyticsAt F8 in May, Facebook (somewhat quietly) launched some significant upgrades to it’s evolving analytics platform. 

With a pretty strong monopoly on the analytics market to date, Google Analytics has sat pretty on top of a kingdom of users who only have one king to look to for help. Facebook hopes these upgrades will encourage people to reconsider and start to wonder which is best ask: Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics.

And the answer is both. Let’s dig into why.

What is Facebook Analytics?

Facebook Analytics was launched several years ago and has been developing and growing for quite some time.

The newest update allows you to:

  • Track the customer journey across different channels: mobile/desktop, Facebook page, website, Facebook Ads, other platform ads, any apps you might run, even emails and links with UTM parameters
  • Aggregated demographic information about the people who interact with you and convert (or don’t convert).
  • Clear funnels to track behavior, conversions, and revenue and understand the which customer journeys are most successful.
  • The ability to build custom audiences and learn from their specific behaviors.
  • Event source groups, which you can create in your dashboard to segment and retarget people who follow a specific event path.
  • Some pretty cool and advanced machine learning capabilities to really added an extra level of audience data.
  • The ability to build custom audiences based on omnichannel insights

To access Facebook Analytics you’ll go to Ads Manager if you click on the three bars in the upper left-hand corner and scroll down to the “Measure and Reports” section. There you’ll find “Analytics.”

When you click into that you can start the creation of your Event Source Groups (ESG) and set up your dashboard. 

You can find a few good tutorials on how to set-up Facebook Analytics  HERE and HERE.

What Problem Does Facebook Analytics Solve?

Facebook Analytics and some of their new upgrades such as funnels and Journeys were developed to solve the problem of not being able to see the full picture of what influences a conversion decision.

For example, your user might see a Facebook ad, click on it, but not convert (whether that goal conversion is to provide an email, download an ebook, buy a product, or something else). Then link over to read a blog post from you a few days later, click on a call to action in there and convert.

Currently, neither Facebook Insights, Ad Manager, or Google Analytics can give the full picture of the customer lifecycle.

They all provide important pieces of the puzzle, but they can’t show you EXACTLY how it was done.

Facebook Analytics is working to change that. And that lifecycle problem is one of the biggest points of differentiation for Facebook in the Facebook Analytics vs Google Analytics face-off.

Facebook Analytics vs. Facebook Ads Manager

To be clear, Facebook Analytics isn’t the same as Facebook Ad Manager or Facebook Insights.

  • Facebook Analytics looks at all of your data: pixel, Facebook page, Facebook Messenger and Bots, website, any apps you might have, and other platform ads to create a total picture. It allows you to see how almost all of your efforts and different campaigns (organic and paid) influence a customer journey.
  • Facebook Ads Manager allows you to see data around your specific ads campaigns but doesn’t look at those as part of the complete journey. It gives specific detail around specific campaigns.
  • Facebook Insights gives you insights and data around your Facebook page.

As Facebook says:

Facebook Analytics allows you to learn about the types of people using your product, how they got there and what actions they are taking. Facebook Ads Manager is designed to help you create, manage, and measure your Facebook ads.

The Ultimate Question: Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics

Currently, the answer to this question isn’t “either-or,”  it’s “yes, and…”

How you use each one depends on what questions you are trying to answer.

Then use each one separately, and together, to answer those questions.

Just as Notorious B.I.G.’s data nerd twin used to say:

Mo’ data, mo’ money.

Google Analytics is still the most robust platform. It offers more data, more conversion tracking, and an overall larger view.

Because life is a war of the Gods: Facebook and Google, this doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t trying to become the go-to analytics source Google currently is, it just means it’s not there yet.

Facebook Analytics is currently better at tracking user journey through multiple sources, or as they say “omnichannel.”

Because you can connect your pixels, Facebook page, Messenger, apps, and even things such as Google UTM parameters, you can connect the pieces in a way Google doesn’t allow yet. It also addresses a bunch of the “dark social” tracking problems we see more and more frequently.

Facebook also says they offer “user-based tracking” vs. the Google “cookie-based tracking. This isn’t exactly true because Google does provide some user-based data; it’s just nowhere near as robust and detailed as Facebook.

I’ll go into more detail on the differences between Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics, specifically looking at examples of funnels and conversion data, in a future article.

TL;DR: Facebook Analytics vs. Google Analytics

Facebook Analytics is good at showing you the customer journey and details around the people who engage with your brand. Details both in demographics and behaviors.

Google Analytics provides more data, greater capabilities, and shows detailed info around how each distribution channel feeds your website and goals.

Where Should I Start?

Start by figuring out what questions you want to answer.

But most of all, get in there, play around, and learn.

Don’t worry, you won’t break anything. But get in now and start learning.

You can guarantee Facebook has many more upgrades in store for their analytics platform.

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.