Here’s What Came Out of Facebook, Google and Pinterest’s Discussion About Cross-Platform Measurement

Foot traffic, attribution and analytics are coming

Social platforms have a complicated relationship when it comes to measurement. Getty Images
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

The biggest social platforms say they want to work together to help advertisers measure their campaigns across platforms, but marketers know better. Platforms of course hold metrics close for privacy reasons but also as a way to leverage bigger budgets from brands.

So, it was intriguing when Pinterest, Google and Facebook spoke on an Advertising Week panel about measurement and how they’re trying to move toward more cross-platform measurement—well, kind of.

“As more money has moved into these platforms, we’ve seen a call for more marketing accountability,” said Julie Fleischer, vp of product marketing at Neustar, who moderated the panel.

Below are some take-aways from each platform:


Pinterest has added 12 measurement partners over the past year, which is a pace that Gunnard Johnson, head of measurement science and insights, doesn’t expect will continue next year.

“We’re still growing and have increased the number of third-party partnerships by [seven times] year over year—I don’t think we’ll do that again as the growth period gets a little steeper, but there’s still a lot for us to do and add,” he said.

One example, he said, is foot traffic, possibly hinting at either a partnership or acquisition of a location-based firm, the likes of which have long been seen as acquisition targets in digital advertising. For instance, Snapchat acquired location-based firm Placed in June for $135 million.

“The biggest thing we’re seeing right now is the value of user identification and understanding the user and how she ultimately converts—that’s been one of the biggest pieces to do in a privacy-safe way where we understand engagement on Pinterest and then how that ultimately translates to a conversion,” Johnson said. “To understand foot traffic is the next biggest one that I think has been a gap on our road map, but one of the metrics that’s emerging that’s super important for industries like QSR [quick-service restaurants].”

The other area of focus next year will be Taste Graph, which has 5,000 interest categories for ad targeting based on the content users typically engage with.

“We can have a unique advantage and what’s best to measure Pinterest, at least at this phase—for us that’s understanding the value of discovery and highlighting the unique intent that comes from that,” Johnson said.


Babak Pahlavan, senior director of product management at Google, said the growth in mobile “is not even saturated at this point.”

“You’re going to see us push more and more into this notion of enabling cross-device measurement across the board from analytics through attribution,” Pahlavan said. “This is still an unsolved problem at scale.”

In particular, Google rolled out a product called Google Attribution that integrates between Google Analytics and AdWords. At the same time, smaller advertisers cannot afford third-party measurement products so “we are trying to not only cater to high-end enterprise [clients] but to all these millions of advertisers that are on our platform,” he said.

This summer, Google launched voice-enabled analytics that are powered by AI and machine learning.

“The last piece is enabling all of that in the cloud,” Pahlavan said.


Facebook has had more than its fair share of measurement mishaps and as a result has added new third-party partners, rolled out stats like view time and is undergoing an audit for viewability accreditation from the Media Rating Council.

“We think about developing and enabling a third-party ecosystem and providing information into that third-party ecosystem so that measurement can happen not just on Facebook, not just on one individual platform or not just digital or mobile, but can happen across all of the media that marketers are buying,” said Brad Smallwood, vp of marketing science at Facebook. “We recognize particularly for large marketers that the third-party ecosystem is critical in that.”

In particular, Smallwood brought up marketing mix modeling, or MMM, which analyzes data to determine the sales impact from marketing as well as forecasting future marketing tactics, as an area of focus.

The goal is to “measure how [advertisers’] media gets in front of people across not just television, digital, Facebook or Google and enabling that,” Smallwood said. “That doesn’t mean Facebook doing it necessarily—there will be first-party tools that we’ll have—but really figuring out how to enable an ecosystem so that there is consistency when people think, ‘How many people did I talk to as I delivered this piece of creative?’”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.