Not sure where to start with understanding the rollout of Facebook’s Conversions API and what this means as a potential solution for some of the issues we now face as marketers due to iOS 14?  

Look no further! Here’s our guide to what we know so far from our trusted bank of resources and expert opinions.

THE BACKGROUND

Up until recently, the use of third party data by online advertisers had become the best way, and really the only way, to accurately track, report and attribute conversion performance.  Marketers achieved this by tracking consumers online via placing third-party cookies (such as the Facebook pixel) on web browsers. 

There’s been a fair amount of change this year in the data privacy space, with all iOS device holders now being given the option to either agree (opt-in) or decline (opt-out) businesses from being able to track their behaviour online via apps.  It’s expected that most users will decline, which could mean the death of third party tracking data as we know it.  

The industry is moving fast to find solutions. With solutions like Facebook’s new Conversions API, there’s hope our industry will learn to adapt and innovate, exploring new ways to track, report and attribute our advertising performance.

Sources: Tech Crunch, Matchnode

SO, WHAT ABOUT THE CONVERSIONS API?

Conversions API, also known as ‘Server-Side’ API is a new tracking method that allows businesses to send ‘data and events’ from their servers back to Facebook’s server.  This change impacts everyone going forward, not just iOS device users.

Conversions API data flows directly into Facebook and is treated just like pixel events, meaning that advertisers can measure these conversions and make optimisations in Ads Manager based on the data. 

Sources: Facebook – Conversions API, Neto

START TRACKING YOUR CONVERSIONS, HOLISTICALLY

Most of what we do in digital advertising as performance marketers, relies on data. We make insightful decisions and optimisations based on the data that we are seeing in the platforms and against the campaigns we are running. Anything that limits the access to, and the use of data, can be considered a major threat to our industry.   

Don’t fret – The new Conversions API offers advertisers a number of benefits, a key one being the ability to create more ‘holistic’ measurements of campaigns via attributing offline and online signals back to Facebook. 

For example, a retailer with online and offline channels such as one of Wired’s clients, Assembly Label, can now optimise and measure all purchases with one conversion action. Conversion performance will now consider purchases completed in-store as well as online, as long as the right systems are integrated.

By essentially removing the ‘web-browser cookie’ middleman and relying on your own website’s server to communicate with Facebook’s servers, we have access to a far more accurately tracked reporting experience. 

Further to this, if a user blocks the tracking of cookies within their browser (yes, iOS update we are talking about you), Facebook marketers will now be able to track conversions to improve the measurement and performance of their campaigns. 

This server approach also helps with bypassing issues such as long load times, poor network connections, and ad blockers. Music to our ears.

Sources: Matchnode

THE ENTIRE USER JOURNEY WILL NO LONGER BE TRACKED

Without a unique mobile ID, device ID or mobile number as a key ‘identifier,’ the Conversions API will use other User Data Keys such as IP address, email, click ID, browser ID to create a unique user ID that the two servers will use to match the user’s behaviour and attribute conversions. 

This tactic does not have the ability to share the user’s whole journey like the pixel, but it does show the end result. 

The iOS conversion attribution windows and number of events that can be tracked still apply to this Conversions API. Marketers will have to keep that in mind when prioritising their conversion events in Facebook Business Manager.

Sources: PixelYourSite, Facebook for Developers, Matchnode

TELL ME THE TECHY DETAILS ON HOW THIS WORKS

Currently, most businesses have the Facebook pixel installed on their website or through a platform like Google Tag Manager. When a user visits the website, the pixel fires at the browser level. With each page the user visits, or an action they make like adding to cart, purchasing, submitting an enquiry, etc, the browser sends an update back to Facebook. Facebook then reports on how many conversions your site has generated, grouped by each conversion event type..

Moving forward is the fun bit. Once the Conversions API is integrated, when a user lands on your site from an ad on Facebook, Facebook will send a unique ID for that user to the server. The server will track this unique ID as the user visits your website and will report back if the user completes a purchase, submits a lead form, and adds a product to their shopping cart. Once the purchase or conversion is completed, a message is sent back to Facebook to attribute the conversion to that unique user. 

The best part. When Facebook receives the server (API) event, it checks to see if it also has a matched pixel event. If the pixel event is blocked due to browser privacy controls, Facebook can use the server event instead. All events will be deduplicated to ensure conversions are not double counted, inflating performance results. 

Sources: Matchnode

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN THE SET UP? 

  • Shopify: This integration couldn’t be easier. The setting is in the Shopify Facebook App. Instructions on how to implement here
  • Magento: Instructions here and a handy app here
  • Woocommerce: Instructions here
  • WordPress: Instructions from Social media Examiner 
  • Other eCommerce website platforms, visit Facebook Support
  • Social Media Examiner have a great run down of various platforms as well.

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Author, Ashley Byers, Head of Social


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