Discrepancies between Facebook and Lickstats explained

 

You might have noticed that numbers don’t always align between Facebook and Lickstats. You are right! But it’s totally normal and here’s why.

 
 
 

The discrepancy is caused by prefetching requests made by Facebook to speed up the loading time of certain external websites on Facebook’s mobile in-app browser. The screenshots illustrate this discrepancy. Facebook reports 3 clicks while Lickstats reports 4.

Facebook uses an algorithm to predict the probability of someone clicking on your campaign links. If the probability is high, Facebook will preload the landing page but not its assets such as images and JavaScript. This explains why you see more clicks on Lickstats than Facebook, as the latter doesn’t account for these prefetching requests unless the person actually clicks the link (which only happens a fraction of the time).

How prefetching impacts measurement companies and publishers, explained by Facebook.

Prefetching may cause an apparent increase in web traffic and an increase in clicks for third-party, tag-based measurement solutions. These increases may occur when marketers manually place third-party click tags in the website URL of their ads. Setting the tags up this way causes the prefetch to redirect to the third party tag, and the prefetch may then get counted as a click.

So why don’t we also drop these prefetching requests from our stats? Sadly, we can’t because once a person actually clicks a link that has been prefetched, Facebook doesn’t hit our servers again to confirm the click. This applies to all analytics platforms that track clickthroughs.

One way of mitigating this for landing pages of your own is to install the Lickstats plugin that confirms clicks using JavaScript, meaning the plugin isn’t loaded during Facebook preloading requests but only when a user actually clicks the link. More on setting this up soon - watch this space!

 
Zane Pocock