About estimated, in-development metrics and third-party metrics

We show disclaimers next to metrics that aren't precise counts, still in testing, or reported to Facebook by a third-party API. This article explains what those disclaimers mean and how to use these metrics in your planning and decision-making.

Estimated metrics

When you look at a metric's definition, you may see language that says, "This metric is estimated." An estimated metric is derived through statistical sampling or modeling, rather than a straight count.

These metrics help you measure activities that are hard to count due to the number of people who use Facebook and the data processing required to calculate them. Estimated metrics can also be helpful when measuring actions or events where data is partial or missing.

How we calculate estimated metrics:

  • Sampling lets us look at a portion of data that represents a larger population included in an entire set of data. We can then calculate metrics quickly with a high level of accuracy, whereas an exact value could take a long time or be difficult to calculate. Our metrics that count people (including reach and unique metrics) are sampled because it takes a large amount of data to calculate them.

Modeling uses data from several different sources to measure activity that's hard to count directly. For example, one of our ad metrics uses data from multiple sources to estimate the number of people who might remember seeing an ad 2 days later. It uses data from similar campaigns, people's interactions with an ad and other signals to make these estimates.

An example of a modeled, estimated metric is store visits. Store visits are the estimated number of visits to your stores, attributed to your ads. Because not every visit to a store can be detected, we use modeling to provide approximations.

Modeled metrics don't include attributed conversions (such as online purchases attributed to an ad), where we can count and measure events. In cases where we can't measure conversions directly due to partial or missing data, we may also use statistical modeling to account for some conversions. For example, due to changes in how certain actions can be measured on the web.

Businesses can use estimated metrics:

  • As directional guidance for strategic planning and business decisions.
  • To gauge advertising performance.
  • To measure conversions in cases where data may be missing or incomplete.
See a list of metrics that are labeled as estimated

In development metrics

When you look at a metric's definition, you may see language that says, "This metric is in development." An in development metric is a measurement that we're still testing. We're still working out the best way to measure something, and we may make adjustments until we get it right.

Why metrics are in development:

We frequently launch new features and new ways of measuring how those features perform. Sometimes we publish these metrics even when the way we calculate them isn't final to get more feedback, make them better and figure out the best way to measure performance. Once we've completed testing and established the way a metric is calculated, we'll remove the in development disclaimer.

Businesses can use in development metrics for:

  • Directional guidance.
  • To gauge advertising performance.

Businesses shouldn't use in development metrics for:

  • Historical comparison of advertising performance.
  • Strategic planning or important business decisions.

Reported by a Third-Party API

When you look at a metric's definition, you may see language that says, "This metric is reported by a third-party API".

A third-party API can sometimes serve as an additional data source that Facebook uses to report on ads performance. For example, for iOS 14 app install campaigns, Facebook will report on events received through Apple's SKAdNetwork API.

Each third-party API can differ in its methodology, such as the level of detail shared or the time it takes to report the data to Facebook.

Please use caution when comparing metrics reported to Facebook by a third-party API with other metrics that Facebook measures and reports on directly.

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