In late September 2021, addressing the impact of sweeping data privacy changes, Facebook published an article on improving marketing performance and measurement. With extensive knowledge of this topic and a passion for helping organizations navigate the dynamic digital analytics environment, I offer up my takeaways and recommendations — to help ensure your data strategies position you for success in delivering optimized digital experiences.
Unpacking Facebook’s Announcement
Essentially, Facebook acknowledged the increasing difficulty to measure Facebook campaign performance, in some cases due to underreporting on the platform’s part. Facebook estimates that it’s underreporting iOS web conversions by approximately 15%, however, that could vary across advertisers.
That said, it’s important to understand the related causes of this underreporting of conversions, specifically that the data used to model conversions has been deficient. In a separate article on Modeled Conversions, Facebook puts it well, saying “The quality and accuracy of a model depends on the quality of its inputs.”
The decreased efficacy of data collected through the Facebook pixel — due to ad blockers, Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), etc. — combined with the struggles Facebook has had with reporting in-app conversions for iOS 14.5+ users (via SKAdNetwork) has resulted in conversion modeling that was performed with insufficient inputs for the model to produce accurate outputs.
Impact on Facebook Advertising
As an industry, we’ve known for months that running Facebook ads has been challenging. Not only did Facebook’s announcement validate this, it confirmed these challenges will persist, and perhaps even increase, in the near term. Google Chrome’s decision to end support of third-party cookies, which Facebook Advertising has also relied on, will further hinder data collection.
As a result, brands are at risk of:
- Inefficient Retargeting — Advertisers are unable to effectively identify if users have interacted with their site and to retarget those users.
- Increased Cost Per Action (CPA) — Without comprehensive data sent to the Facebook algorithm, targeting new customers is too broad, resulting in waste
- Lack of Success Measurement — Conversion attribution suffers, resulting in a lack of data to make better decisions about ad budget allocation.
At a higher level, given Facebook’s prominence in online advertising, this is an issue that can impact the digital experience you’re delivering to your target prospects and customers.
So, What Are You To Do?
Facebook’s announcement successfully reminds advertisers of what you should be doing now to maximize your ad spend, while also getting your proverbial house in order.
The first two items in the section titled “Actions you can take right now” are essentially caveats to be aware of when analyzing performance, followed immediately by the recommendation to implement the Facebook Conversions API (CAPI). This really emphasizes how important the Conversions API is for advertisers who want to do all they can to maximize their return on ad spend.
Get Your Events in Order
This is a great opportunity for brands to evaluate what they’re measuring and optimizing for. With the introduction of Facebook’s aggregated Event Measurement in response to iOS changes, it became necessary to prioritize conversion events (up to eight) in order to drive conversion optimization.
From my experience, it’s common to see Facebook Ads accounts where conversion events aren’t configured and prioritized for Aggregated Event Measurement, or there are potentially dozens of custom events from legacy campaigns that aren’t meaningful anymore.
Ensuring the events you’re measuring and optimizing for are in order and aligned with business objectives should be a preliminary step towards maximizing your return on investment (ROI) of Facebook Ads. Once that’s done, you need to follow the steps Facebook has provided for setting up web events for use in ad optimization (e.g., domain verification, prioritizing conversion events, etc.).
Implement Conversions API
The next step is to implement the Facebook Conversions API, as recommended, to ensure maximum signal is reaching the Facebook platform. The Conversions API is a server-side method to send data from your website/app server-to-server, to overcome accuracy limitations.
Implementing the Conversions API requires a strategy and plan for getting up and running, which likely demands additional expertise.
The impacts of implementing the Conversions API (e.g., decreased cost per action, higher conversion rates, increased revenue, etc.) can be attributed to the fact that the Conversions API increases data capture and enables more — and higher-quality — inputs for the conversion modeling and optimization algorithms.
Beyond Time to Act
There’s an old adage that really applies here: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The best time to set yourself up for success in the new Facebook advertising environment was in 2020 when Facebook initially began discussing the issue and recommending Conversions API. The second best time is now.
Implementing anything beyond simple PageView and Purchase tracking for the Facebook pixel can be challenging (for example, implementing e-commerce events with necessary object properties to support Dynamic Product Ads). So, naturally, doing so in a server-side context provides its own set of challenges.
In many cases, a proper Conversions API implementation requires expertise outside the scope of traditional Tag Management, where nearly all Facebook pixel tracking is implemented, from my experience. As with most things, significant outcomes require significant effort.
Getting Started with Facebook Conversions API
That’s where Blast and our team of analytics consulting experts come in. From strategy and implementation to optimization and training, we offer a proven process and vast experience for deploying the Conversions API using server-side Google Tag Manager — the recommended approach by Facebook.
Many brands already struggle with a lack of internal resourcing and expertise for implementing the standard Facebook pixel tracking, so the more complex Conversions API might seem out of reach. Blast’s “quick start” solution significantly lowers the barrier to entry for brands looking to implement the Conversions API sooner than later.
To learn how we’re already helping brands implement CAPI and how we can help you, contact our team.