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These days, there's no shortage of folks willing to take your money to make create ads on Facebook (and others).
There does seem to be a shortage of people who are capable of measuring the results of those efforts.

This got me wondering: Who has the onus of setting up (and testing/maintaining) the appropriate tracking to measure success of ads? And is it reasonable to expect that the advertiser is capable of this, when in many cases it requires programming (javascript) and/or intimate knowledge of tools like Google Tag Manager.

On the one extreme, you have platforms like Shopify, where setting up a Facebook Pixel is literally point-and-click. All the heavy lifting of sending measurements back to Facebook is already done and it "just works". That scenario is not the subject of this question.

On the other extreme (and this is the subject of my question), you have more obscure platforms like hotel booking engines, legacy webstores, or completely custom built platforms. On a site like that, you may not even have a DataLayer to work with. Even if you get lucky, you'd still need to know enough javascript to extract the relevant DataLayer values, then possibly more javascript to communicate them back to Facebook/Google/etc in a usable way.
I often see: some marketer comes in and creates a "tag" in GTM, pastes in a code snippet they got from Facebook, and thinks they're "done". But no attention is paid to piping through key details like order revenue amount, names/prices of items purchased, etc.. This leads to scenarios where it's impossible to measure the success of ads because there's no data. Or worse, it corrupts the good data already coming from a working implementation on another site! It's as if they don't even realize this is "a thing".

It's hard to fault them for this: they're marketers, not programmers. On the other hand, any "professional" who isn't able to measure/test/verify the result of their work is ... well, not very professional I would say. Imagine a lawyer who writes a contract without proofreading it!

So my question is: Is it even reasonable to expect the person creating the ads to also be measuring the ads' performance? Or should we just make it part of our workflow to always have a developer come in behind them and check their work?

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I started writing this a while ago but left off hoping someone with more experience in the consulting world would write. My perspective is from our internal staff and vendors we've worked with, but may be broad enough to be useful.

Measuring performance of ads and setting up the tracking required for that measurement are two different things. I don't see the second skill as being in the standard skillset at all for someone labeling themselves as a marketer.

In my company, I (a web developer) would be the one to set up tracking - and even for an outside vendor who provides code, I would take care of populating variables with the correct data and other needed "personalizations" for our site. Part of that is not giving access to people who don't need it, but it also seems to be standard that an internal web developer adds the code. No one in marketing is expected to know anything about Google Tag Manager or JavaScript, but they do work directly with Google Analytics, social media platform analytics, etc.

The marketing department or the outside vendor then create the ads and measure their performance using that tracking. If data is missing or clearly wrong it is reasonable to expect them to notice and request it to be fixed, but not necessarily to know how to fix it. I would also find it more than reasonable to expect someone to recognize when they don't know how to set something up and ask for developer help.

However, what's reasonable and what's actually out there can differ greatly. You can certainly have people who are robotically following a checklist they don't think about, people with good intentions who lack the skill to realize they aren't doing things right, people who don't think it matters - perhaps because they don't use the data in a way that shows them its problems or limitations. Even companies that specialize in the full pipeline for one particular kind of advertising are not always highly skilled at all aspects.

So I think what you are running into may be a combination of different expectations for the role, and people selling themselves as something more than they are (whether or not they are aware they're doing so).

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  • I would add that if someone calls themselves a "technical" SEO or digital marketer, then they likely (or ought!) to know how to set up tracking sans perhaps modifying some of tracking code itself. Variable configuration and personalization come expected. – I Capulet Nov 14 at 18:09
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Of-course, this varies per contract and client, but in my experience -

The marketing specialist should be responsible for what metrics are needed and how the outputted html/JavaScript needs to look.

If the implementation of these code changes is trivial(or well established) it is likely they can do these changes themselves - however if they are custom coded or harder to implement the actual implementation falls back to the web developer - with the specs advised by the marketing specialist.

Where you the website uses a third party platform it would be up to the marketing specialist to liase - as far as possible - with the developers of the platform to get the required data. If it is not possible to get this data, that is the responsibility of whoever made the decision to use the third party platform.

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