Facebook’s New Conversion Tracking is Pretty Great

By ,

163 SHARES

There is so much going on in the world of PPC lately that we’re spending an entire week introducing the changes and letting you know how to make the most of them.  It goes beyond Google’s new “Enhanced Campaigns” feature to Facebook and Analytics. Over the next week, PPC Hero is going to take a look at each of these updates in a series of posts designed to get you ready for all of the added functionality, the new best practices and even more.

 

The news of last week has really rankled more than a fair share of our small little corner of the Internet (Simmer down, young Eric.)  Hidden amongst all of the Google shenanigans of the recent past is Facebook’s giant leap forward in terms of conversion tracking (and by “giant leap forward” I mean “giant step into the future if the future is actually 2007 or something”).  Dave mentioned it in passing during our January roundup, but I wanted to highlight how welcomed this change is around the offices of PPC Hero.  We wanted to pass along the basics of conversion tracking according to Facebook if for no other reason than to dispel the uproar over enhanced campaigns (if only for one measly post).

Conversion tracking in Facebook is theoretically the same as it is in AdWords and adCenter: it reports “on the actions people take after viewing [your] ads.”  Whatever pageview you want to count as a conversion (your thank you page in most cases) can count as a conversion, you just have to add the code to the page that you want.

Facebook tracks conversions (or “actions” in their hip, perpetually-privacy-policy-updating ways) for 1, 7 or 28 days following a click on an ad.  The same timeframes are available for view through conversions.

Conversions appear a bit differently in Facebook, as they aren’t in the main ads manager that you see upon logging in.  Which is weird and sort of disconcerting.  As Lars says in Heavyweights, “Don’t be alarmed, I am fine.”

 

Where are the conversions?  Not here.  And they'll be called "actions" if you find them.

Where are the conversions? Not here. And they’ll be called “actions” if you find them.

Facebook’s actions are different than conversions in more ways than annoying lingo.  You get the standard “things a user does on your site following a click” stuff, but they also include any actions that occur within one day after viewing an ad.   That’s right, Facebook has decided to include View Through Conversions as regular ole conversions just cause they can.  That’s the biggest downer hidden amongst the great news that is conversion tracking coming to Facebook.

Here are step-by-step instructions on setting up conversion tracking.  They’re pretty much the same as AdWords, so you should be familiar with the steps.  And if you’re one of the advertisers that Bryan Eisenberg referenced in his post last week that doesn’t actually use conversion tracking in Google, uh, what’s up?  Why aren’t you tracking conversions in Google/BingAds?  Stop reading and go do that right now.   Then come back and add in conversion tracking for Facebook.

What’s really crazy, considering Facebook’s reluctance to actually be user friendly, is that you can add a conversion value (I recognize how basic this is, but I also recognize that it’s a miracle Facebook is tracking conversions at all – that there’s a value field too is enough to send me into a glee-induced coma).  There’s also the option of adding in dynamic value tracking using a server side variable, which is just, you know, amazing.

There are two ways to ensure that your code is placed correctly:  1) View the source code of your thank you page (where the code should be in the <body> tag) and 2) Check the conversion tracking tab within the Facebook interface.  You should see a neat little status that tells you if all is well.

All is well

 

Implementing the conversion code on your site is not enough.  You need to tell Facebook to track conversions for specific ads, and then check a box to select which tracking pixels to apply to each ad.  This can be done either in the regular interface (in what Facebook calls the “Create Flow”) or in the Facebook Power Editor.  Now this is the type of unnecessary step that Facebook really excels at.

 

Interface Option

This is how the option looks in the Create Flow

 

This is how the option looks in the Power Editor (on the ads tab)

This is how the option looks in the Power Editor (on the ads tab)

It’s important to note that in the Editor you’ll need to manually select which type of conversion you want tracked for the ad.  You could overlook that step and miss out on some conversion tracking if you aren’t careful.

One more thing to complain about, since this is Facebook and it’s not like their customer service would ever care what anyone said about them (that is, if their customer service even exists, which is dubious), when you add in conversion tracking to each of your ads, be prepared for them to enter into editorial review.  You may want to stagger adding tracking to your ads so everything doesn’t go down during approval.

There is also now a bidding option called Optimized CPM for Facebook ads, which is basically conversion optimizer for Facebook (you can find it in the pricing section in both the Power Editor and the Create Flow).  It’s a step in the right direction, I guess, but I for one don’t trust Facebook’s optimizations.  I base this purely on the way that their system decides the winners of ad tests in a matter of days without allowing anything even approaching statistical significance.  Optimize CPM at your own caution.

A final note is that there’s a chance that your pixel status could be unverified (because of no reports from that page) or inactive (because of no reports or views of that page in the last 24 hours even though that pixel has fired in the past).  In both cases, Facebook recommends that you check your code.  You could also contact Facebook customer service and they should help you in no time!

Hidden amongst my sarcasm is some genuine excitement that Facebook is willing to actually track what happens after you click on their ads.  I think it would still be beneficial to track all of your conversions concurrently in Analytics because you probably want to get a handle on how many of your “actions” are actually view throughs.

While the world of Google crumbles around us, take some time out of your day to reflect on Facebook conversion tracking.  How is it working for you?  Have you implemented it yet?  Are your ads still in editorial review?  Did I successfully Rick Roll you earlier in this post?  So many questions!

Get more weekly links with our Fast Five newsletter! Five Fast Links in Your Email Every Friday.

Also send me a daily RSS digest

Social Advertising Toolkit

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Google+ Email Print More
  • http://twitter.com/Beatever Béate Vervaecke

    I’m curious: what happens when someone first visits your site, then goes to facebook, clicks an ad, and converts. Who is getting the credit?

    • http://www.facebook.com/raju.paliwaal Raju Paliwal

      Facebook get the credit i believe.

      • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

        I agree with Raju. Like any engine, Facebook’s going to claim whatever credit it could possibly claim. I’d imagine that even if someone clicked on an AdWords ad, didn’t convert, then later clicked on a Facebook ad and converted, both engines would count that as a conversion. I would wager that if things happened in the opposite order it would be handled the exact same way.

  • http://twitter.com/larrykim Larry Kim

    isn’t it nuts that they are just rolling this out now

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      It’s just stunning. I really can’t believe that it took this long.

  • http://twitter.com/davidcorman David Corman

    Where can you view conversion value in reporting? We added the dynamic value in our code but I can’t find it anywhere.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      I haven’t set up any dynamic value (since I focus primarily on lead generation), so I don’t have any experience with that. I think a good place to start looking for that would be on the Full Actions Report that I mentioned above.

      If you come across where this is, please let us know. I’ll keep looking as well and if I run across it I’ll let you know.

  • Ben

    Hi Sean,
    So just to confirm, all conversions in the facebook interface that you see are regular conversions combined with view-throughs. There is no way to separate them out?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Ben,

      View throughs are included only if the conversion takes place within one day of the ad impression. You can separate them out, though. If you click on your individual ad you’re given the option to “See Full Actions Report” under the performance header (this is under All Ads). The Full Actions Report will tell you how many were post click and how many were view through.

      Let us know if you find anything cool on there as well! This is all pretty new.

  • http://twitter.com/GnosisArts Gnosis Media Group

    This is interesting. And I’m simmered, young Sean. (Thanks for the mention :)

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Media Group

  • Ben

    Hi Sean, So I’m not sure I’m understanding completely. I went to the “All Ads” and clicked full report but didn’t see what you were referring to. If I run an “Actions by Impression TIme” report I can see all actions and “Post-Click (0 to 24 hours)”. If the number of actions for the post-click (0 to 24 hours) matches the number of regular actions – what does that mean and how would I separate out the view-throughs?

    I hope this makes sense.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Ben,

      Sorry that I wasn’t clear earlier.

      The report I use is the “Actions by Impression Time,” so it seems like you found the right one. My guess is that you don’t have any view throughs at the moment, which is why your post click numbers match your total actions. Based on the wonky way Facebook reports back numbers, I think if they don’t have anything to show you they might not even display the column.

      To any other curious parties, here’s how I access the Actions by Impression Time report (it’s also housed in the main Reports area, so that would be the easiest way to get there):

      If you start at the Campaigns & Ads tab, click on one of your active campaigns that’s also tracking conversions. You will then see your active ads. Click on one of those titles to expand the ad. On the right side they have a little section for performance. There’s a drop down menu there, so choose Actions on that menu (this will only appear if you have actions on the ad).

      It will show you the total number of actions that you have. Underneath that figure there will be the phrase “See full actions report.” If you click on that, the report that will be displayed will have two columns, one called Post-Imp and another called Post-Click. That should tell you what you’re looking for.

  • Ben

    Hi Sean, thanks for your detailed explanation. It makes sense, however, I do not see the “post-impressions” column…I just see the post clicks.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      I think it’s probably just a case of Facebook not showing a column because there’s nothing in it. If there aren’t any actions on your ads you don’t even have the option to view actions (which I’ve seen in my accounts), so my estimated guess is that they don’t show the post-impressions column if you don’t have any post-impression actions. It’s frustrating and confusing (and I could be wrong, too), but that’s what I think is going on in that case.

      I would advise to keep an eye on that report and see if the column appears once you get a post-impression conversion. If the day ever comes when your total number of actions don’t match up with your post-click actions and you still can’t see the column, then we’ll have a legit problem. At that point, though, it’s not like we’d be able to talk to anyone at Facebook about it.

      I hope that makes sense at least. If you find out a more concrete solution let me know!

  • Ben

    Hi Sean, so if I ever do have any view-through conversions, there will be a separate column to designate this (hopefully!)?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      That’s my hope. I know that I have that column showing.

  • Madison

    I’m confused about the Post Click (0-24 hours) thing. Do I have to set it to track for 28 days instead of 24 hours or is it automatically doing that and I’m just missing something/ just totally off track and confused? I’m not sure if I explained that correctly or not.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hey Madison,

      It’s a bit confusing, so I hope that I can clarify a bit better. Here’s what the Facebook help page says:

      As with actions, Facebook tracks conversions that happen within 1 day, 7
      days, and 28 days after a person clicks on an ad, and 1 day, 7 days,
      and 28 days after viewing an ad.

      In my accounts I only see some of the stats, and I take it to mean that if you have a conversion that falls into any of those windows they’ll start reporting that stat. So right now I don’t have any conversions between 8 and 28 days after viewing an ad, which means that I don’t have any conversions like that at all. It’s caused plenty of confusion, but there isn’t an option that you need to select. Facebook will track all of these and you will see them reported if you have them. If you can’t view a column for a certain conversion (or action) type, then you can assume that you don’t have them.

  • Madison

    Do ‘likes’ to your fan page or clicks on posts count as actions as well? Are they mixed into the same view with actual conversions on your website? And if so, is there a way to make them separate or not count ‘likes’ as conversions?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      I’m only tracking conversions on my actual site (I only manage the PPC aspect of Facebook for my clients, so I don’t promote posts or anything like that), so the best that I can offer you is an estimated guess.

      When I’m in my ads manager I can see the total number of actions affiliated with each ad. There’s a header that says “# Total Actions” and below that it shows that I have that same number of leads. Since it breaks out the number of leads for me, I’m assuming that if we were tracking social interactions they would appear under that section as a different type of action.

      Your leads will always appear distinct, as you’ll be placing the pixel on an external site that won’t fire for likes/clicks on other posts. They may be bundled together with other actions at times, but that separate conversion pixel should mean that you’ll have a degree of separation there.

      I could be wrong of course, so if anyone has a different experience please let us know! I’m just guessing about how Facebook handles things, and I’ve found out by now that my brain doesn’t work like Facebook’s collective brain does.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Ben

    Hi Sean,

    Facebook seemed to update their conversion tracking again. I was always reporting on the “actions” column. But now it appears they have added in a conversion column where the action number is cut in half looking at a given time frame!!?? So basically, the actual number of conversions is half of what was being reported on? Have you come across this?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Ben,

      An action in Facebook could be a lot of different things. Page likes, app installs, event responses and a whole bunch of other stuff qualifies as an action, whereas a conversion is just a conversion. As far as I know that’s how it’s always been, but it’s definitely confusing.

      On the reports tab in Facebook you should run the actions by impression time. That’ll give you a breakdown of what different types of actions you’re getting credit for.

      It’s definitely worth a look, as they count a whole bunch of stuff as an action.

      Good luck!

  • Ben

    Understood, but in this instance we are taking them to an offsite landing page anyway with the the form. So those other actions wouldn’t apply here.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Oh, dang. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

      I haven’t seen anything like that in my accounts. I’ve definitely run into the actions/conversions thing before, but never purely conversions dropping like that.

      I would recommend double checking stuff where you can. Track FB traffic via analytics to see if GA gives the same numbers. I’d also watch that actions by impression time report like a hawk for any trends.

      Good luck! Let us know if you figure it out.

  • Jennifer Koochof

    Hi Sean. I have set it up to track conversions on my sites home/landing page, which is the same landing page as my ads link. i wanted to do this so i can make sure the link clicks i am paying for match what i am tracking in ga. my question is: my report shows other clicks, other actions, my conversion (web page view) and clicked links.

    i understand most of it, but one thing i dont get. clicked links should be how many times my link in the ad was clicked correct? that would be my website home/landing page, which i have set up the conversion. but the number dont match. it is like 12 off out of 40(i get low amount of hits).

    shouldnt every link click match th number of conversions since the link in the add is the same as the conversion page?

    hope it makes sense. thanks,

    jennifer

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com/ Sean Quadlin

      Hi Jennifer,

      If you’re tagging your landing page with the conversion pixel then those two numbers should be relatively close. Analytics tracks things a bit differently from Facebook, though, so some small variation is expected. 12 out of 40 seems to high to me, just like it does to you.

      Here are a couple of different options that may be the reason this is happening.

      1. If you’re running promoted posts, people could be clicking the headline to go to your FB page, and then from there they click on a link to your site. Here’s how Facebook defines a Link Click: http://www.facebook.com/help/558159880873842?q=link%20clicks&sid=0GPKEhSAzKCJB6ZVK They include viewing an ad when calculating actions, but it’s a bit unclear if Link Clicks are also included as a post-ad-view action.

      2. People could be clicking your links and then leaving your site before GA even has time to fire the tracking pixel. Some users don’t like being taken off of Facebook and could be closing out of the window right after seeing they’re being directed off site. They click, so you get charged, but they quickly abandoned, so you don’t get the visit. That one’s a bit of a bummer, so I hope it isn’t the case.

      I hope that helps. Let us know if you figure it out!

  • Lars Perkins

    Why isn’t there a date on this post? Makes it hard to know if it’s current or a year old…

  • http://www.techmaish.com/ Bilal Ahmad

    Do we need to create separate pixels for every campaign?

  • http://www.techmaish.com/ Bilal Ahmad

    Hey Sean.

    Waiting for your reply.

    Suppose if I have 4 campaigns running for 4 different pages on the same website. Do I need to create separate pixels for all the campaigns to add on the pages with “Checkout” tag OR 1 pixel can still work?