May 13 The Facebook Conversions API: Tips for Implementation
With the Apple iOS 14.5 update here and cookieless browsers coming before long, the industry is expecting these two changes to negatively impact data collection via a pixel or tag. While much of the impact of these remains to be seen, we have some learnings to share with you. First, though, here’s a little background.
A pixel or tag is a snippet of code placed on a website that allows social platforms to collect event and conversion data via the browser. Both rely on third-party cookies. Today, phasing out third-party cookies will impact a brand’s ability to garner valuable insights, build retargeting audiences, and run conversion-based buying. (For more, see our 2020 article, Growing Privacy Concerns Put Social Networks’ Targeting at Risk.) Facebook’s solution is the Conversions API (CAPI), with which brands can send website, offline, or CPM data directly to Facebook’s servers. This setup gives brands more control and is more reliable than web browsers, which may crash or have an ad blocker enabled.
Although we still have access to third-party cookies, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update (announced in 2020 and rolled out this year) brought CAPI to the forefront as the update threatens the data collection through the Facebook pixel. Since the 2020 Ignite article, more information around CAPI has been made available and we’re learning more every day as we work with clients on implementation. Below are some learnings we’ve collected along the way that will help you kickstart your journey to implementing CAPI.
Phasing Out the Facebook Pixel
Although CAPI is the superior of the two, don’t throw out the Facebook pixel just yet. Facebook recommends using both the pixel and CAPI to improve reporting and ad performance as the Facebook algorithms will have more data to work with. At this time, CAPI can only track purchases. Other events such as view content or add to cart will be added to CAPI at another time. However, the Facebook pixel is still able to report on those events right now. Additionally, implementing CAPI requires a Facebook Business Manager account and active Facebook pixel. So before you get started, make sure you have both.
Once CAPI is able to report on more website conversion events, we expect brands to eventually phase out the pixel given the control and accuracy of CAPI’s server-based data.
Multiple Ways to Install the Conversions API
There are 2 ways to install CAPI: commerce platform integration or manual setup. For both options, we strongly encourage working with a web developer for setup and troubleshooting.
Similar to the browser pixel, Facebook offers partner integrations for setting up the Conversions API. To access CAPI partner instructions, your developer will need to visit Facebook Events Manager, select settings, and choose from a list of partners. Once the partner is selected, they’ll need to follow the setup instructions. For more information on how to set up CAPI using partner integrations and a list of partners, visit the About Partner Integrations for Web on the Facebook for Business page.
Developers can also manually install CAPI. This requires creating an access token in Facebook Events Manager and implementing the API (Tip: Your developer will need Admin access to the Business Manager to generate a token). To generate the access token, they will need to go to Facebook Events Manager and follow the steps in the video walkthrough on the Using the API page (they will need to scroll down the page to access the video). Once the token is generated, they will need to make a POST request to the API directly or use the Graph API Explorer Tool.
Once CAPI is implemented either through a partner integration or manual setup, to verify that the server events are received correctly by Facebook, developers can use the Test Events feature in Events Manager. Visit the Facebook Using the API page for additional information on how to verify CAPI within Events Manager.
Use Events Manager for Troubleshooting
In addition to verification, Events Manager is a great tool for advertisers and developers to use for any issues around the pixel or CAPI. The Diagnostics feature displays active and previously detected issues that can be easily sent to a developer. Additionally, Events Manager features a breakdown of purchase events by source (pixel or CAPI), so you’ll be able to see where your purchase events are coming from.
With Conversions API only tracking purchases at this time, e-commerce brands need to prioritize CAPI to continue to use the tracking power of the Facebook pixel on their social buys. If you’re a non-e-commerce brand, you may be off the hook now, but don’t wait until third-party cookies are obsolete to start discussions around CAPI implementation. As more and more brands start using CAPI, it’ll be interesting to see how this solution impacts Facebook attribution and ad performance.
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