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Data is worth its weight in gold now, or so we believe, which is why a partnership between Facebook and the digital cash register Square is making waves. The union between the two tech companies is intended to enable small businesses who use Square software to buy Facebook ads to access much data, thus closing the information loop between ads and sales.
"That's the holy grail," according to Saumil Mehta, Square's customer engagement lead, who spoke to The New York Times. "There's a lot of excitement around buying Facebook ads, but the critical missing link is: If I put down $5, how do I know if it worked?"
The way the integration will work is that Square customers who buy Facebook ads will be able to access a bunch of information that will illuminate what led a customer from one step to the next, from the ad to the purchase. But remember, this is only theoretical. Interpreting numbers is not an exact science.
The venture stems from a Square buyout of LocBox, which specialized in online marketing for small businesses. Now LocBox folks are situated at Square and targeting Facebook ads, hoping to make analytics into a customer passion (and prompting bloggers to write sentences that would have been incomprehensible only a decade ago).
They may be on the right track. Because the web allows us to quantify a lot of information, we have become obsessed with numbers and analytics, the practice of breaking down online actions into categories and patterns so that we might make sense of this behemoth.The hope is to derive a system for mastering marketing on the web. But our tools are still relatively new and it's not clear that anyone knows yet, despite the widespread enthusiasm for metrics.
In any case, Square says it can help customers who advertise on Facebook, allowing business owners to understand whether their Facebook ads are working to attract new and repeat customers. This information is worth a lot to any business, but perhaps particularly valuable to smaller enterprises with limited budgets for advertising.
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