The Facebook Ads Pixel: What Marketers Need to Know

Facebook Ad Pixel

Are you confused about how to implement the Facebook Ads Pixel?  Wondering what the Facebook pixel actually does for you and how to use it in an ad?

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

**NOTE This article was updated on 9/20/2018

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 Facebook 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 100 Custom Conversions that you can add to your account but you can delete them if you make a mistake.

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).

 

First Step:  Install the Facebook Pixel

 

The first thing you need to do is to install the new pixel on your website.   First navigate to the Facebook Ads Manager and then follow these steps:

  1. Click the 3 lines (aka a hamburger menu) from the upper left corner and select Pixels from the menu (you may have to click All Tools).

Facebook Ads Manager menu

 

  1. If you haven’t created the pixel before, you will be prompted to create it and name the pixel (the name doesn’t appear publicly so it’s not a big deal what you choose).Your screen may look a little different but there will be some type of “Get Started” or “Create Pixel” button. If you have created the Pixel before, you can skip to the next step.

Creating the Facebook Pixel

 

  1. If you are just starting you may automatically be directed to the popup box that has the Pixel code in it, or you may have to click the “Set up” button in the upper right to get the code.

    Facebook Pixel code

  2. A popup box appears with some choices and you can select Manually Install the Code Yourself. 
  3. Now you can copy the pixel code that is in section 2 of the instructions. At the moment, don’t worry about section on the next screen of the popup about adding your events – just click continue and done.

    Install Facebook Pixel

  4. 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.

** The other option if you have a WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, or Drupal site is to use the Facebook Pixel integration plugin found under Partner Integrations in the menu.  Just do a search to see if your platform is supported.

Facebook Partner Integrations

 

 

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.

 

Facebook Pixel 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 for Facebook Ad Tracking

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 events that you want to track such as a Purchase, Lead, Subscribe, etc. you will add the Standard event script to the page on your website AFTER the event happens (not the page people land on).  That page will indicate that the event is complete and a conversion has happened.

For example, if someone lands on a page on your website where they can buy shoes, that page will only contain the basic pixel code.  Then on the thank you page after someone has purchased the shoes, the page will have the base pixel code AND the Purchase standard event script.

Here is a list of the Standard Event codes that Facebook currently has (note some of these are still rolling out):

Facebook Pixel 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.

You can always access the Standard Event codes from the Set up menu on the pixel section that I showed you in the previous section.

Facebook Standard Events

 

Using the Custom Conversion Method for Facebook Ad Tracking

The other way to track Facebook conversions from an ad is to use a Custom Conversion.  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 the 3 lines (aka a hamburger menu) from the upper left corner and select Custom Conversions from the menu (you may have to click All Tools).  You can also get there from the Pixels section.

Facebook Custom Conversions

 

  1. Select the Create Custom Conversion button and a pop-up box appears.
  2. Add the URL 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.Create a Facebook Custom Conversion

Select a category for your Custom Conversion and select Create.

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.

 

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 Conversions for your objective.

Facebook Ad 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.  Your Custom Conversions will appear first and the Standard Events are further down the list.  IF YOU HAVEN’T SET UP THE STANDARD EVENT BY ADDING THE CODE TO YOUR WEBSITE, DON’T SELECT THAT OPTION.

Select a Facebook conversion event

 

3. From here, you set up your Facebook 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.

Optimize for Facebook Conversions

 

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 Facebook Ad 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).

Customize Facebook Ad Columns selection

 

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 installed the 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.

 

Need to up your Facebook Advertising skills?  Join over 500 savvy marketers in my completely updated online course, Facebook Advertising Secrets!  Tons of live demo, strategies for different industries, and a Facebook Group included to get all your questions answered!

Facebook-Advertising-Secrets-Social-Media