Facebook Analytics is Going Away: What Marketers Need to Know in 2024

As a marketer, data is our lifeblood. We rely on analytics platforms to understand our audience, measure campaign performance, and guide our strategies. So when Facebook announced in early 2021 that it would be sunsetting its Facebook Analytics tool on June 30 of that year, it sent many marketers into a panic.

Fast forward to 2024 and Facebook Analytics is now a distant memory. But its discontinuation provides enduring lessons on how marketers need to future-proof their reporting and stay agile as platforms evolve. In this post, we‘ll revisit what made Facebook Analytics so valuable, why it went away, and most importantly – what marketers can do today to get the data they need.

What Was Facebook Analytics?

Launched in 2018, Facebook Analytics was a robust tool that provided detailed insights about your audience‘s demographics and behavior across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and your own website. It was particularly valuable for understanding the full customer journey across touchpoints.

Some of its most loved features included:

  • Omni-channel data: Track customer interactions across your Facebook properties and websites with event source groups. This allowed you to see, for example, if someone who messaged your Facebook page ended up making a purchase on your website.

  • Funnels: See how people navigated through a series of pages or took specific actions, and where they dropped off in the process. You could compare funnels across different audience segments to identify optimization opportunities.

  • Cohorts: Analyze the behavior of groups of people, such as those who made a purchase in a given month, and track their actions over time. This was valuable for measuring retention and understanding the long-term value of customer acquisition channels.

  • Lifetime value: Predict how much revenue an individual would likely generate over their entire relationship with your business based on demographic and behavioral similarities to previous customers. This helped inform targeting and budget allocation.

  • Automated insights: Get proactive reports about notable changes or trends in your metrics, like sudden spikes or drops in page visits, to quickly spot issues or opportunities.

Best of all, it was completely free to use. For many small to midsize businesses, Facebook Analytics was an affordable way to get powerful reporting capabilities without paying for an enterprise-grade solution.

In fact, over 1 million apps were using Facebook Analytics as of early 2021, according to Facebook. Many marketers relied on it as their primary source of audience insights and campaign measurement.

Why Did Facebook Analytics Go Away?

The official reason Facebook gave for discontinuing Facebook Analytics was to consolidate its business tools. In the year and a half leading up to the announcement, Facebook had launched the Facebook Business Suite, which allows you to manage your Facebook and Instagram business accounts and provides basic post insights.

However, many suspect that Apple‘s iOS14 privacy updates, which rolled out in early 2021, also played a role in the decision. The changes required apps to get permission from users before tracking their data across apps and websites owned by other companies for advertising purposes.

For Facebook, this meant that its Audience Network ad targeting capabilities and off-platform analytics reports would be impaired as more people inevitably opted out of tracking. The company stated in a blog post that it expected over 50% of users to opt out, which would render the data in many Facebook Analytics reports incomplete or unreliable.

Rather than providing a broken or inaccurate product, Facebook likely decided to sunset the standalone Facebook Analytics tool and focus on its other business and ad reporting solutions that rely more on first-party data from within its own apps.

The move is part of a broader trend of walled gardens, where platforms are limiting data sharing with third parties and directing advertisers to use their own self-serve tools. While this gives platforms more control, it can make it harder for marketers to get a unified view of their customers across touchpoints.

Life After Facebook Analytics: What Marketers Can Use in 2024

So here we are in 2024, several years after Facebook Analytics‘ last day on June 30, 2021. If you haven‘t already, it‘s time to embrace the alternative tools that can help you understand your audience and marketing performance on Facebook and beyond. Here are some of the top options:

Native Facebook Tools

Meta Business Suite

Available for all Facebook and Instagram business accounts, this is now the primary interface for managing your presence, viewing basic post insights, and publishing content.

While its analytics capabilities are not as robust as the old Facebook Analytics, it does provide helpful metrics like:

  • Overview: See key stats like page views, page likes, post reach, and actions on page for Facebook and Instagram in one dashboard.
  • Results: Dig into metrics for individual posts, stories, and ads, including reach, engagement, link clicks, and negative feedback.
  • Audience: View demographic info and follower growth over time for your Facebook and Instagram audiences.

To access more advanced analytics, you‘ll need to use Meta‘s specialized ads tools.

Meta Ads Manager

If you run ads on Facebook or Instagram, Ads Manager is where you‘ll spend a lot of time. It‘s the central hub for creating, managing, and measuring your paid campaigns.

You can view metrics like:

  • Performance: Key stats like results, reach, frequency, and cost per result for each campaign, ad set, and ad
  • Audience: Demographic breakdown of people reached by your ads, plus relevance metrics
  • Placement: Breakdown of ad performance across different placements like Facebook news feed, Instagram stories, Messenger, etc.
  • Conversions: Track actions like website purchases, sign-ups, and adds to cart driven by your ads (requires Conversions API or pixel setup)

While designed for paid media measurement, Ads Manager can still provide valuable organic insights too, since it includes data on people who see or engage with your ads but may not yet like your page.

Events Manager

The Events Manager is Meta‘s tool for tracking actions people take on your website, app, or in your physical store after interacting with your content on its platforms. It‘s crucial for measuring conversions and getting a more complete view of the customer journey.

To set it up, you‘ll need to add Meta‘s tracking tools to your properties:

  • Meta Pixel: A code snippet that goes on your website to track page views and events
  • Conversions API: Lets you send web events from your server directly to Facebook
  • Offline Conversions: Upload lists of offline sales or leads to attribute them back to your Facebook ads

Once implemented, you can view the data in Events Manager and create custom conversions to track specific user actions that matter to your business, like email sign-ups or time spent on site. This data will then be available for reporting in Ads Manager and optimizing your ad targeting.

While the setup process can be technical, Events Manager is a must-have for any business running campaigns designed to drive actions on their website or offline. Make sure to monitor your event quality score and troubleshoot any issues to ensure you‘re getting complete, accurate data.

Third-Party Analytics Tools

While Meta‘s native tools can cover many use cases, you may find you need additional capabilities like cross-platform analytics, custom reporting, or audience segmentation. Here are some top third-party options to consider:

Google Analytics 4

For website analytics, Google Analytics is the gold standard. Its latest version, GA4, offers several advantages over the previous Universal Analytics, including:

  • Cross-platform tracking: Combine data from your website and app to understand the full user lifecycle
  • Event-based data model: Track any user interaction as an event for more flexible, granular analysis
  • Privacy-centric features: Get modeled data for opted-out users and easily comply with data regulations
  • Predictive insights: Use machine learning to forecast outcomes like churn rate or revenue potential

If you haven‘t yet made the switch to GA4, now is the time, as Universal Analytics will stop processing data on July 1, 2023. Check out Google‘s migration guide to ensure you‘re capturing historical data before the cutoff.

While GA can‘t track users across social media properties, it‘s an essential complement to your Facebook analytics stack for understanding downstream behaviors and conversions on your website. Use UTM parameters on your social media links to see how Facebook and Instagram traffic performs compared to other channels.

Social Media Management Platforms

For more robust social media reporting and competitive benchmarking, consider a tool like:

  • Sprout Social
  • Hootsuite
  • Rival IQ
  • Sendible

These platforms pull in data from the social media APIs to provide analytics like:

  • Cross-channel performance: Track and compare metrics across all your social media profiles in one dashboard
  • Competitive benchmarking: See how your brand stacks up against industry peers and find content inspiration
  • Paid media reporting: Analyze organic and paid results together to understand the full impact of your social strategy
  • Team collaboration: Assign tasks, share reports, and get approval on content and replies

Prices for these tools vary based on factors like number of users and social profiles, but expect to pay at least $99/month for an entry-level plan. If your primary focus is Facebook and Instagram, Meta‘s native tools may suffice, but if you‘re managing multiple social channels, a third-party platform can save time and surface valuable insights.

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

For businesses with more sophisticated data needs, a CDP can be a game changer. CDPs are designed to unify customer data from multiple touchpoints, including social media, website, email, offline sales, and more, into comprehensive profiles.

With a CDP, you can:

  • Stitch together data from different sources using identity resolution to create a single customer view
  • Enrich profiles with data from second- and third-party sources
  • Create granular segments based on demographics, behaviors, and predictive scores
  • Activate data in other systems for personalized marketing, advertising, and customer service

Popular CDPs include:

  • Segment
  • Tealium
  • mParticle
  • Adobe Real-Time CDP

CDPs are a significant investment, with prices starting around $10,000/year for small businesses and reaching six figures for enterprise setups. But for companies with large, diverse datasets, they can provide unparalleled insights and unlock powerful use cases.

Future-Proofing Your Analytics Strategy

The discontinuation of Facebook Analytics underscores an important lesson for marketers: Change is the only constant. We have to be ready to adapt our strategies and tech stacks as platforms and privacy regulations evolve. Here are some tips:

  1. Diversify your data sources: Don‘t put all your eggs in one basket. Use a mix of native platform tools and third-party solutions to have multiple ways to access your data. Relying too heavily on one platform‘s APIs can leave you scrambling if they change or get deprecated.

  2. Prioritize first-party data: In an era of increasing privacy regulations and cookie restrictions, first-party data that your customers consciously choose to share with you will be increasingly valuable. Focus on building trust and providing value to earn data directly. "Walled gardens will dominate and businesses will have to work harder to get data and tracking will be harder as the big platforms tighten their grip and privacy regulations grow more stringent," predicts marketing expert Dennis Yu.

  3. Build a single customer view: The holy grail of analytics is a unified view of your customers across all touchpoints. Invest in tools and processes to stitch together data from different channels and stages of the funnel. A CDP can be a powerful solution, but you can start small by ensuring consistent naming conventions and using UTM parameters religiously.

  4. Choose tools wisely: When evaluating analytics platforms, look for:

    • A proven track record of stability and innovation
    • Robust privacy and security features
    • Ability to integrate with your existing tech stack
    • Flexibility to customize metrics and reports
    • Scalability to grow with your data needs
  5. Cultivate a data-driven culture: Fancy dashboards are worthless if no one is looking at them. Make data a core part of your team‘s workflows and decision-making processes. Set clear KPIs, share insights broadly, and celebrate wins driven by analytics. Empowering everyone to be data literate will make your organization more agile.

  6. Experiment with new data sources: Don‘t limit yourself to traditional digital metrics. Explore alternative ways to gain audience understanding, like:

    • Social listening tools to track brand sentiment and trends
    • Surveys and interviews to hear directly from customers
    • Focus groups and user testing to gather qualitative insights
    • Marketplace and competitive research to benchmark your performance
    • Predictive analytics to model future behaviors and lifetime value

"The key is to be curious and not rely on any one tactic or platform," says digital strategist Tara Hunt. "The brands that succeed will be the ones that are constantly looking for new ways to understand and connect with their audiences."

The Bigger Picture: The Need for Open, Interoperable Data

The shutdown of Facebook Analytics is a microcosm of a larger challenge in marketing today: the walled gardens of social media and advertising platforms. As these companies tighten their grip on user data, it becomes harder for brands to get a holistic view of their customers and make informed decisions.

We need a more open, interoperable data ecosystem, where users have transparency and control over their information, and businesses can access the insights they need to provide valuable, relevant experiences. Initiatives like the Data Transfer Project, which aims to create common standards for data portability across platforms, are a step in the right direction.

As marketers, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our customers‘ data and advocates for their privacy. By prioritizing trust and investing in first-party relationships, we can build a more sustainable, customer-centric future.

Embracing the Evolution

The loss of Facebook Analytics may feel like a blow, but in reality, it‘s an opportunity to innovate and evolve your marketing strategy. By diversifying your data sources, investing in flexible tools, and cultivating a data-driven mindset, you‘ll be well-positioned to thrive in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Remember, the goal of analytics is not to collect data for data‘s sake, but to better understand and serve your customers. As long as you keep their needs at the center of your efforts, you‘ll find the insights you need to succeed—with or without Facebook Analytics.