The Facebook Ads Pixel: What Marketers Need to Know

Facebook Ad Pixel

Are you confused about how to implement the new Facebook Ads Pixel?  Wondering how to transition from your old conversion tracking pixel to the new pixel and measure your ads properly?

Facebook introduced the new Pixel in mid-2015 as a “One Pixel” solution.  Previously Facebook had a pixel that would track website traffic (known as the Custom Audience Pixel) and then different individual pixels to measure conversions (known as Conversion tracking Pixels).

In this article you will learn how to install the new pixel, two methods for tracking your conversions with the pixel, and how to view the cost per conversion in your Facebook Ad reports.

Important Concepts to Understand about the Pixel

First of all, what is a pixel?  A pixel is just a bit of code (also known as a script) that you put on your website that sends messages back to Facebook for tracking purposes.

Each ad account only has one pixel code.  You can install this pixel on multiple websites and then you can track those sites separately.  But you always use the same code that is associated with your ads account.

The audiences and tracking starts after you install the code.  So get the code installed as soon as possible if you want to target people who have visited your website.

You can only share pixels through the Business Manager.  Previously you used to be able to share website conversion pixels with other Facebook Ad accounts so that multiple people could track those conversions with an ad.  But now if you want to share a pixel it needs to be done through the Business Manager.

You have a MAXIMUM of 20 Custom Conversions that you can add to your account and you cannot delete them (as of this writing).  So choose which Custom Conversions you want to track wisely (more on this later).

You can place the Standard Event codes on unlimited number of web pages so if you have lots of different conversions to track, you may want to focus on using the Standard Event codes (again, more on this later).

The old Conversion tracking Pixels will continue to work until mid-2016 if you have some installed on your site.  But it’s a good idea to move everything to the new pixel and delete the old code since the new pixel code loads 3x faster (according to Facebook).

First Step:  Install the New Pixel


The first thing you need to do is to install the new pixel on your website.  This is the easy part if you have used the Facebook pixel in the past.  First navigate to the Ads Manager and then follow these steps:

  1. Click Tools from the upper menu and select Pixels from the drop-down menu.

Navigate to Pixels


  1. On the secondary menu on the Facebook Pixel Page, click Actions, and then select View Pixel Code from the drop-down menu.

View Pixel Code


  1. A popup box appears and you can copy the pixel code that is in the top box of the popup box. At the moment, don’t worry about the conversion tracking event codes.

Copy pixel code


  1. Go to your website and paste the code in between the main <head> and </head> area. Some WordPress sites have themes that make this easier (a Header Script area) or you may have to go to the header.php file and edit that – typically under Appearance > Themes > Editor > Header.php.  Get a webmaster to help you if you don’t know where to find this.
  2. You will know your code is working if you start to see some traffic recorded in the Total Traffic area after you have visited the site where the pixel was installed.

Total traffic


If you are not showing any traffic, use the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome extension to help you troubleshoot the problem.

Second Step:  Use 1 of 2 Methods for Tracking Your Conversions

The next thing you need to do is to set up the way you will track your conversions. By conversions, I mean specific events that happen on your website such as someone opted in to your Newsletter or giveaway, someone purchased something from your website, or someone registered for an event or webinar.

You will be tracking these things from specific Facebook Ads only.  The pixel doesn’t track from individual Facebook Posts. But the benefit is that you will know exactly which ad is converting the best for you.

To be able to track conversions you need to have two things in place:

  1. Your Facebook Pixel installed on your website (done in step 1)
  2. A “thank you” page that is on your website where someone lands after the event.

So, for example, if you have someone signing up for a webinar on with a webinar service like Go to Webinar, you need to redirect them to a page on your website after they have completed signing up where the pixel is installed.  That way Facebook knows the action has been completed and it can attribute that registration to that exact ad.

You can’t track Facebook ad conversions on other people’s website such as Amazon because that site is not under your control and you are not able to put the pixel on their site.

Facebook’s new pixel has two ways you can track conversions:

  1. Standard Events
  2. Custom Conversions

The Standard Event method involves adding an extra bit of code to the base code and you add the standard event code ONLY on the pages where you are tracking a specific event (i.e. a “thank you” page).

The Custom Conversion method doesn’t require any extra code added to the “thank you” pages, you just use a URL rule instead.  But you are limited to creating 20 Custom Conversions.  This method is ideal for people that don’t have many events to track and don’t want the added hassle of adding the standard event code to their website.

Using the Standard Event Method

This method is very easy to implement if you have easy access to the website.  You can also add as many Standard Events to pages on your site for tracking (unlike the Custom Conversion method).

On the pages that you want to track and optimize your ads for, add a line of code to the Base code of the Facebook Pixel you’ve already installed, right after the “Page View” standard event that is currently in the code.  Notice how it will be tracking Page Views on every Page of your site already due to the fact that your Pixel is on every Page.

Standard Event Code

Image credit:  Facebook Help.

Note that the text in blue, 1234567890, will be replaced with your own Pixel number when you follow the process in Step 1. Just to be clear, the standard event code is not in brackets, the image is highlighting where the Standard Event code goes.

Here is a list of the 9 Standard Event codes that Facebook has:

Standard Events

Once you have installed the extra bit of code to your Pixel on that page, you are done with this step.  Note that you can use a combination of Standard Events and Custom Conversions in the way you do your tracking.

If you have installed the old Conversion Tracking Pixels on these same ‘thank you’ pages, it’s a good idea to remove those pixels unless you are still using them.  Too much code slows your site down.

Using the Custom Conversion Method

The other way to track Facebook conversions from an ad is to use a Custom Conversion rule.  Custom conversions allow you to track and optimize for conversions without adding any extra code to your site.

To create a custom conversion follow these steps from your Ads Manager:

  1. Click Tools and select Custom Conversions from the drop-down menu.

Select Custom Conversions


  1. Select the Create Custom Conversion button and a pop-up box appears.
  2. Add the rule you want to track. So if you are matching a particular page exactly, you enter that web address and use URL equals (make sure you include the www or http:// as needed).  If you want to track across several types of pages you could use the URL contains /thankyou.php as an example if you had several ‘thank you’ pages that had that phrase in them.Custom conversion

Select a category for your Custom Conversion and select Next.

Choose a category


  1. Give your Custom Conversion a name and description (optional) – make the name descriptive so you know exactly what the conversion represents.
  2. Add a conversion value if applicable (optional).
  3. Click Create to finish the process.

Now you will be able to use the Custom Conversion in ads and you will also see the traffic to the pages specified in those custom URL Rules on your Custom Conversions page.

Watch conversion traffic


Third Step:  Creating a Website Conversion Ad

Now that you have your conversion method defined and your pixel installed, you are ready to track your conversions!

When you are in the Ads Manager area, click the Create Ad button is in the upper right corner to get started.  Then follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Increase conversions on your website selection.

Choose website conversions

2. Enter the URL of the website address where you will send the Ad traffic. Then you will be prompted to choose the conversion.  Part of the confusing thing is that all the different conversion tracking is listed together.  But they doesn’t appear until you have set them up.  In this example, you can see all three types of conversions listed, the Custom Conversion, tracking using Standard Events, and the previous conversion tracking pixel.

Choose a conversion tracking for ad

3. From here, you set up your ad exactly the same way you have done it in the past by selecting your targeting in your Ad Set, and setting up the creative part of your ad (image and text) at the Ad level.

4. Once you are done configuring your Ad Set and Ad the way you want it, select Place Order to start your ad running.

One thing to note is that your ad will automatically be set up to optimize for Website Conversions at the Ad Set level.  You can always change that bidding method but your conversions will still be tracked.

Website Conversions optimization


Fourth Step: Viewing the Conversions and Cost per Conversion in Facebook Ad Reports

After your ad has been approved and has started running, the last step is to view the reports correctly so that you know when your ads are registering a conversion and how much each conversion costs you.

Facebook does sometimes get the columns right in the Ads Manager area according to what you are advertising but the best way to make sure you are looking at the right stats is to customize your columns.  Go to the Column area and select Customize Columns from the drop-down menu.

Customize columns


Now you will see a pop-up box with all the different stats you can select.  Select the stats you want to see and then most importantly, scroll down to the Websites section in the center column (or select Websites on the left column to jump there).

Facebook Reports ad conversions


You can see the different options you will be able to select are from the three types of conversions we have available – Standard Events, Custom Conversions, and the Old Conversion Tracking Pixels.  Select the ones that you want to have in your report.

Also make sure you scroll down to the Websites: Cost Per Action section just below that and select the same pixels you chose so that you see how much each conversion cost you from each ad.  Now you will be able to make the right choices on which ad is converting at the best price for you.

Once you are done selecting your columns, click Apply in the lower right corner and your report will appear with the right columns.  For easier viewing in the future, save your report by selecting Save next to the custom configuration you just created (and you can make it the default view after you save it).

Save your report


So there you have it!  Once you have gone through this process once, you should be able to skip right to Step 3 and only do Step 3 for any new ads unless you have a new conversion that hasn’t been created before.

When you track conversions from your Facebook ads, you are going to see a much clearer benefit to using ads for leads and sales.  You can also improve your ad strategy to decrease your cost per conversions by split testing your ads and optimizing your budget to focus on the ads that are actually working for you.

How about you?  Have you tried the new Facebook Pixel yet?  What is your experience with using Facebook ads to drive conversions?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Facebook Ads Pixel

This article originally appeared on Social Media Examiner and is reprinted with permission.


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