Facebook Conversion API: A Short and Crisp Guide for Marketers

Analytics

Siddharth Dwivedi

July 5, 2021

Siddharth Dwivedi

Pixel-based tracking is NOT the future. All the data about purchase and purchase conversion value is not accurate anymore in your Facebook Ads dashboard.

I am running a campaign for a US client and this is how the sales in Facebook Ads Manager and Shopify Store dashboard (from Facebook & Instagram) compare against each other.

facebook vs shopify sales dashboard - facebook conversion api

That’s a huge difference. While Facebook Ads Manager is telling me that we generated sales of around $1,308.38, the total sales from Facebook & Instagram was $2,156.93.

The reason is: iOS’14 update.

iOS’14 has enabled users to take control over the data—that is, they now have to opt-in for apps to track them. Hence, Apple devices are not reporting about conversion. The effect will be more pronounced when Google takes away third-party tracking from Chrome browsers.

This will have two-fold impact on your ad campaigns:

  • You won’t be able to measure and track all conversions
  • And since, you can’t measure, you cannot optimize your campaigns anymore.

However, Facebook Ads has come up with a solution that allows you to solve this tracking problem: It’s called Facebook Conversion API.

What is Facebook Conversion API and How it Works?

Here’s how Facebook defines it:

Conversions API is a Facebook Business tool that lets you share key web and offline events, or customer actions, directly from your server to Facebook’s. Conversions API works with your Facebook pixel to help improve the performance and measurement of your Facebook ad campaigns.

This is different from how Facebook Pixel works: with Facebook Pixel, when a user enters your website using a browser, it’s the browser which send events (product views, adds to cart, purchases, etc) to Facebook and then to your Ads Manager.

However, in Facebook Conversion API, when a user enters your website after clicking a Facebook ad, he is assigned a unique ID. This ID allows Facebook to track user’s action on the website and sent the data from the web server. When a user makes an activity, for instance, a purchase, that data is sent to Facebook from your web server itself.

However, Facebook Pixel is NOT completely dead.

The best practice while setting up conversion API is to set it up along with Facebook Pixel.

Here’s a pictorial description of how Facebook Conversion API and Facebook Pixel both sends data to Facebook.

facebook conversion api

Right now, both Facebook Pixel and Conversion API sends data to Facebook. In case, same is reported to Facebook from both the mechanisms, the data is deduplicated and the browser event is prioritized.

Since Facebook Conversion API is not dependent on cookies, so web browser settings don’t impact your ability to track user events. When they are used together, you get more reliable data and ability to optimize campaigns.

Facebook also offers:

  • Offline Conversions API: To track and measure in-store sales
  • App Events API: To track in-app events, and

Advanced Matching: To attribute more conversions from Facebook

How to set up Facebook Conversion API

There are two ways in which you can setup tracking using Conversion API

  1. Manual setup (using code—requires a developer)
  2. Partner integration (integration tools)

Using Manual Setup

Facebook for Developers offers a developer documentation that you can use to setup conversion API on your website. If you want to create a more personalized setup instructions, you can find them in Events Manager.

Pros

  • Manual setup gives you control over how you set up the Conversions API. That means more control over what you want to track and measure. It also allows you to add customizations as you want
  • Using manual setup, you can even send events and data that Facebook Pixel doesn’t capture in browsers
  • Since there’s a developer involved, you will need someone to maintain the code especially when you make big changes and improvements in the website

Cons

  • You will need to give access to your server code base to the developer. So, naturally you either need someone in-house or an agency that you can trust
  • You will get an additional activity to set up and manage customer information parameters. For instance, email, phone, gender, name, city, etc.

Using Partner Integration

All you need to do is use a Facebook Partner Integration tool. You can find the complete list of Facebook Partners who are providing Conversion API integration for web.

Advantages

  • This method is simple and fast.
  • That means, minimal development resources required and you can even ask the Facebook Partner to set it up for you at minimal charges.
  • Most of these partner solutions enable you to integrate data with multiple sources allowing you to enable cross-channel integration

Considerations

  • Usually, the difference in cost and event availability varies from partner-to-partner. This also demands that you take time and be careful in comparing multiple partner solutions.
  • Partner solutions also give you lesser control and customizations as compared to manual setup

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