There's not a ton of information out there about prefetching, a term currently most relevant for marketers in regards to how Facebook is reporting clicks on mobile ads (more on what that means below). Whether or not you've heard of prefetching, if you're a current or potential Facebook advertiser, this update is critical to your strategy. Keep reading to understand how prefetching works and how BudURL is helping our customers ensure accurate reporting.
How Prefetching Works in a Nutshell
Prefetching enables websites to retrieve mobile content before you even click on a link. Any company that posts advertisements to Facebook will be affected by prefetching. For example, let’s say that a Facebook user named Henry is scrolling through the Facebook app on his phone and passes by an advertisement. First, Facebook uses a predictive algorithm to determine how likely he is to click on the content. If the prediction score is high enough, then Facebook pre-downloads the initial HTML from the link and caches it locally on Henry's device for a brief period of time. The important thing to understand here is that this is all happening before Henry has even clicked on the link. If he does in fact click on the link, then Facebook will load the initial page from Henry's phone’s local cache, dramatically decreasing wait time before the advertisement’s landing page loads. Facebook has found that prefetching can shorten load time by 29%, or 8.5 seconds.
How Prefetching Affected our Clients
Several of our clients noticed a traffic spike in their BudURL click stats in August 2016. Suddenly the statistics in BudURL appeared much higher than statistics reported by Facebook. This seemingly mysterious jump in traffic was confusing for marketers, who rightly expect their click measurements to be consistent across various reporting platforms. After investigation, we discovered that the spike occurred because the prefetching actions taken by Facebook were being counted as extra clicks on each link.
How Prefetching Technology and Link Management Technology Work Together
The BudURL team has since implemented a code update to identify and remove HTTP requests with a prefetch header from click statistics. What does this mean? It means we’re only counting real human clicks, not prefetch requests. Marketers and customers using Facebook still benefit from the prefetching technology that comes along with paid social, and they no longer need to worry about the technology’s affect on their statistics.
BudURL clients can rest easy at night knowing that we stand behind our product and our statistics. If a statistic doesn’t look right or there's a pain point lingering on your mind, just ask us about it. We’ll work with you to find a solution and troubleshoot your problem. We’re a friendly team and we enjoy collaborating with our clients.
Have questions about prefetching, link management, or BudURL? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment or shoot us an email.