Why Facebook’s Conversion API is the future for digital advertisement

We are about to reach the first half of 2021, and tracking conversions on digital advertisement is getting more difficult every day. Facebook has noticed this, and they have been promoting their Conversion API as the solution for the tracking situation.

The ad-blocking situation in 2021

Since GDPR was released on May 2018, more and more users are becoming privacy conscious, and ad-blockers are blooming more than ever. According to Hootsuite, 42.7% of the users admit using adblockers at least once a month.

That’s almost half of the internet users! And admittedly, that’s a lot. And why are they using adblocks? Hootsuite has also gathered this data:

Now, all these reasons are good reasons to use an Ad Blocker. But ad blockers also have the side-effect of preventing precious tracking data. Data that we could use to identify how our customers interact with our services or products, what’s interesting to them, and what we should be avoiding. In the end, data to improve our businesses for our customers.

Even if your users accept the famous cookie banner, if they have an adblocker, they aren’t going to be tracked, regardless of their preferences.

Apple’s view on privacy, and the controversial iOS 14.5 update

One of Apple’s main selling point is their view on privacy. This isn’t bad per se, you should be free to stay and remain private whenever you want. Now, Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, the operating system that powers the iPhone, has landed, forcing developers to give users an option to opt-out of every tracking in their applications. This of course affects Facebook. Facebook has to comply to this if they want thier applications to be present on iPhone’s App Store, and they are beginning to show this screen if you have updated your iPhone to the latest version:

Now, this is something that doesn’t only affect Facebook itself, but every single business that relies on Facebook Ads to reach their audience, as now target audiencies with iPhones are going to be harder and more expensive to reach if users don’t opt-in into Facebook Tracking. According to Facebook, this affects to at least 10 million businesses.

While it’s good that the user is informed, this won’t mean that the user will stop seeing ads on Facebook if they opt-out, because that’s precisely Facebook business model. They are just going to see less useful ads for them.

Google says goodbye to third-party cookies

Another big player on the digital advertisement industry, Google, recently disclaimed their intentions for a more privacy-first web. This includes removing third-party cookies from Chromium, the base for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Vivaldi and more web browsers.

Google is preparing an API for this future, which we think will be similar to Facebook’s Conversion API.

Facebook’s solution to ad-blockers for tracking conversions

Now, let’s suppose that you have iPhone users that accept Facebook tracking them in order to have better, more useful ads shown to them. There’s still another barrier to break with iPhone users: Safari. Safari will try to block tracking even if users have accepted to be tracked on Facebook:

This affects the most-used technique to track conversions: the Facebook Pixel. Ad-blockers will also block the Facebook Pixel, regardless of cookie settings.

If we add up the 42.7% ad-blocker userbase of before to this, how are we going to track that users clicking on our Facebook Ads are converting or not? Facebook has a Conversion API, the solution for this problem.

How does this avoid the problem? The Conversions API is processed server-side, instead of on the browser. Let’s see an example of how a customer conversion can be tracked via the Conversion API:

  1. The user click on one of your ads on Facebook.
  2. The user is redirected to your page, with a specific variable on the URL, that we are going to call the “ClickID” (who is the user who clicked on which ad, when, and other unique data).
  3. Your server saves the ClickID variable on a session file, server-side.
  4. Once your customer completes a purchase (or another event you want to check as a conversion, like reaching a certain page), your server communicates with Facebook via the Conversion API, communicating the transaction has taken place with the aforementioned ClickID.
  5. Now Facebook and you will know who has converted, by clicking on an specific ad.

The Conversion API is not as useful as the Facebook Pixel yet. It acts as a failsafe to at least get the most important information, and to keep tracking conversions appropiately. This API will also take care of de-duplication in case the Facebook Pixel is still active and communicating events.

If you have recently experimented a fall in your conversion rate, while your advertisement budget is getting higher, you should try to implement the Conversion API on your website. It’ll be benefitial, and you’ll track your conversions more accurately.

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