Facebook’s New Conversion Pixel: Pain-Free Migration & Set Up

Want a 3-step proven system for creating a steady stream of high-converting website traffic, targeting your hottest & most interested visitors, and pushing them step-by-step through your sales process? Check out the Boomerang Traffic Plan—the same exact traffic plan we used at DigitalMarketer to increase our sales by 42% (with an immediate ROI of 126%)! Learn more now.

October 07,2016 by
Andrew Tweito

It’s the final countdown, folks.

Facebook’s new pixel is officially ready for primetime, thanks to some recent custom conversion changes Facebook is slowly rolling out.

The new Facebook pixel is extremely powerful… in fact it’s one of the greatest advancements from Facebook since they rolled out their ad platform.

But with the enhancement has come complexity and confusion.

Which is why, in this post, we’ll be covering:

  • How Facebook’s new pixel compares to the old pixel, and why Facebook is making this change (Hint: It will prove hugely beneficial to advertisers in the long run).
  • The basics, plus a 30,000-foot-view of the new pixel: Learn and master the foundational concepts: the “base code,” events, and custom conversions.
  • When to use which type of conversion tracking to ensure Facebook is getting the maximum amount of optimization “juice” to boost your campaigns’ performance.
  • The complete migration game plan: How to migrate from the old conversion pixels to the new pixel without causing catastrophic damage to your ad account performance.
  • 2 different ways to implement the new pixel and how to choose the one that’s right for your business.

Here’s the thing about tagging, pixels, and segmentation: It is the plumbing of your marketing funnel.

Your ability to correctly track your ad performance, and target your audience with accuracy can make or break your business.

Measurement must be made on reliable numbers, otherwise all of that time you spend strategizing new ad campaigns and trying to optimize could be based on a pile of incorrect data that’s leading you down the wrong path.

In other words, your audience and tag management can be a major competitive advantage for your business, or it can sink you.

Ready to get into it? First, let’s talk about…

New Facebook Pixel vs. Old Facebook Pixel

Before we start talking about the new pixel vs. the old conversion pixels, let’s recap why we need pixels and what they’re designed to do.

In January 2015, Molly Pittman released this guide explaining that pixels allow us to follow up with people who have visited our website in general, specific pages on the site, a sales page, etc.

It’s basically a snippet of code that allows Facebook (or other ad platforms) to track actions that users take on your website(s).

When someone visits your site, the pixel sends data to Facebook’s ad servers that Facebook can use to match the website visitor to their database of active Facebook users.

The activities that the visitor performs on your site can then be combined with all of the other information that Facebook knows about someone (demographics, interests, etc.) so that it enriches your ability to:

  • Target Facebook’s users with advertisements.
  • Keep track of the success of your advertising (if someone sees or clicks an ad, Facebook can now see end-to-end to know if they ended up completing your objective or not).

(RELATED: The Complete Guide to Facebook Ad Targeting, 2nd Edition)

Up until now, Facebook had separate pixels to handle those 2 separate tasks.

One pixel (the remarketing pixel) was used to keep an eye on the visitors on the site, and then you could create any number of conversion pixels to track whether someone completed a specific action or not.

For example, you’d track when someone hits the Thank You page after purchasing and a conversion pixel is fired for that Purchase.

With the new pixel, Facebook is combining all of that power into one pixel.

Many have wondered why Facebook would make such a drastic change to the way that their advertisers build their campaigns and track campaign success.

The short answer:

  • Flexibility.
  • Power.
  • Easier conversion and audience management.

The long answer:

  • One pixel to rule them all: Use the same pixel ID to track conversions, build audiences, etc.
  • Conversion scoping: Optimize for one OR many possible outcomes.
  • Enhanced custom audience segmentation power.

Let’s go through a couple of these.

One Pixel to Rule Them All

If you used the old conversion pixels, this might sound familiar: You go to the pixels section of your ad manager, and you see a list of hundreds of conversion pixels.

Some you don’t even remember setting up and some haven’t gathered data in ages.

Dead pixels aren’t much fun.

With the new Facebook pixel, you use ONE pixel to build audiences, track conversions, and create your Lookalike Audiences.

(RELATED: How to Leverage Facebook Data to Scale Your Ad Campaigns)

Not only is this easier to track and manage in the Ad Manager interface, but it also makes the task of segmenting our audience much easier (#3 from our list above) through the use of events (more on that in a moment).

Conversion Scoping

The biggest underlying problem with the old conversion pixels is one that is easy to miss at first: Scoping conversions.

Let’s say you run traffic to a blog post, and you have 3 sidebar call to actions (CTAs) all leading to separate Lead Magnets. Of course, all of those Lead Magnets have their own Thank You pages and conversion pixels.

Which conversion pixel do you choose if you’d like your ad objective to be Leads?

We have one campaign with many possible conversion outcomes.

With the new Facebook pixel, we can set a Lead event on all 3 of those Thank You pages, and separate the conversions by setting a parameter like content_name to the name of the Lead Magnet.

Now, we can comfortably set our ad set conversion objective to Lead and get some sleep, knowing Facebook is properly nurturing our new campaign into a healthy, optimized, ROI-churning beast.

We’ll revisit this point and talk about how to specifically set this up further down in this post.

Further, when you use the new conversion pixel as your optimization objective (or an event based on the new Facebook pixel), you’ll be able to see ALL of your events in your ad reporting – not just the conversion pixels you select in the ad setup.

So, now that we know the Why, let’s get into the How.

Getting Started With the New Facebook Pixel 

Now that we understand the strengths of the new pixel, let’s get down to brass tacks and set up.

First, the term pixel is a bit of a misnomer in this situation. The reason it’s still referred to as a singular pixel is because there’s really only one pixel ID we will be using for everything, but, in practice, there are 2 components to the new pixel:

The base tag, which looks like this:

facebook-new-pixel-img1

And events, which look like this:

facebook-new-pixel-img2 

If you’re not a programmer, or you just hate coding, don’t let the code above put you off. We can actually get by with editing very little from the 2 examples presented above.

Now, the base tag is the code snippet that you’ll want to place on every page of your website. This tag alone provides you the ability to do URL-based segmentation, and also serves as a “setup tag” that will allow us to use events.

It might seem obvious that we can use events to track conversions, but we can also use them to create segmentation rules in a Custom Audience build out.

Here’s an example where I want to create a segment of users who have become leads, but not purchased in the last 60 days:

facebook-new-pixel-img3

One thing I want to make clear before we move on: Events are very powerful, but not mandatory, and in some situations they might be overkill.

We’ll talk through some different implementation scenarios momentarily, but if you have a very linear website, where you drive traffic through a single funnel, you could just apply the base pixel on each of your pages and then use URL rules to track conversions and segment your audience for retargeting.

Where events really come in handy is when you have a larger website, with multiple funnels and/or personas that you would like to optimize for.

So, let’s talk about a few scenarios that you’d be using events. For this example I can’t think of a better guinea pig than DigitalMarketer.

How DigitalMarketer Uses Events With the New Facebook Pixel

But first, a warning: This is at the far end of the complexity spectrum. Don’t let the perceived amount of work in building something like this scare you off. This is how the most full-fledged and sophisticated Facebook tagging system would work, and also demonstrates how your tagging should be based on your funnel architecture.

As you probably know, DigitalMarketer has several Core Offers available on their site, and they all have Tripwires and Lead Magnets associated with each Core Offer.

This structure is built around the Customer Value Optimization system. If you’re not familiar with how this works, stop right here and go read it now.

So, let’s look at a diagram of one of DigitalMarketer’s funnels using their Paid Traffic Mastery certification.

facebook-new-pixel-img4

As you can see, each Core Offer has a logical “downstream flow.” Core Offers have one or many associated Tripwires, each Tripwire has one or many associated Lead Magnets, and each Lead Magnet has one or many blog posts.

Traffic would “flow up” the diagram above.

Now, DigitalMarketer wants to be able to track conversions and create segmented audiences for all of these Core Offers and funnel stages all the way down to the blog visit level.

(RELATED: How to Write Blog Posts That Sell)

In order to accomplish this objective, they can use the new Facebook Pixel in conjunction with events to track conversions and build these detailed audiences. The standard events that you can use with the new Facebook pixel include things like:

  • ViewContent
  • Lead
  • AddToCart
  • InitiateCheckout
  • Purchase
  • Etc.

You can see a full listing of standard events here in the Facebook Tag docs.

As you can see, these events map nicely to the typical customer journey for a customer to purchase.

To illustrate, let’s take this excellent recent blog post from Tom Breeze as an example: Aducational Video + Remarketing: A Winning Ad Formula.

facebook-new-pixel-img5

This post is focused on YouTube advertising and falls under the Core Offer of the Paid Traffic Mastery certification.

There’s an inline CTA in the post for a Tripwire called “The YouTube Retargeting System.”

facebook-new-pixel-img6

 

I’m assuming that eventually DM will upsell the Tripwire purchasers to their Paid Traffic Mastery core offer.

(RELATED TRAINING: Become a Customer Acquisition Specialist)

Thus, our funnel looks something like this:

facebook-new-pixel-img7

Clearly, we can’t just use plain-old events like View Content and Purchase to track the people who view this content and take action…

How would you differentiate the between conversions/audience from our other funnels in the Facebook ad backend?

How would you differentiate a Tripwire purchase from a Core Offer purchase?

We need to include some additional information with our Facebook events so that the Facebook ad platform can understand exactly what types of content-views and purchases are occurring.

This is where events really shine through, because events can also have tracking parameters associated with them that provide more detail about the event.

Typical parameters include content_name, content_category, value, etc.

You can see a full list of suggested standard parameters here from Facebook.

You’ll also be able to use custom parameters with your events, which we’ll show momentarily.

Parameters are inserted in your event code as the third parameter of the fbq function call, like this:

facebook-new-pixel-img8

As you can see above, for the folks who purchase the Tripwire, we’re using the following parameters:

  • Content_name: To pass the name of the course/content.
  • Currency: Self explanatory.
  • Value: Purchase value.
  • Content_category: The overarching funnel that this Tripwire is part of.
  • Funnel_stage: Custom parameter that helps us differentiate Tripwire purchases from Core Offer purchases. This parameter name is completely arbitrary, it could be whatever makes sense to you, but ideally something you keep consistent across other similar events.

Note that this event must fire AFTER the base pixel has already loaded on the page.

You can do this by placing the event code just after the base tag in the page code, or by using a tool like Google Tag Manager, which enables you to control the sequencing of your tag fires more explicitly.

(RELATED: The Beginner’s Guide to Google Tag Managers: Parts, Setup, and Creation)

Continuing our example, let’s go ahead and plot out all of the Facebook events/tagging that we would use for this YouTube Advertising funnel.

Check out the video below to get the full walkthrough.

And check out the diagram below for the full summary…

facebook-new-pixel-img9

Keep in mind that one of the goals of this type of event setup is to make our life easier when we’re creating our retargeting audiences.

Here’s an example audience we could create in Facebook Ad Manager (Found under Tools → Audiences → Create Audience → Custom Audience → Website Traffic) to retarget visitors who have bought the Tripwire but not bought the Core Offer.

If you watched the video above, you’ll have seen the steps to take to build out the audiences for the full funnel.

facebook-new-pixel-img10

So, as you can see, events and parameters combine to provide a powerful way to target broad or precise audiences.

Remember that you DON’T HAVE to use parameters in your audience logic.

In our example above, we’re getting very granular (people who bought a specific Tripwire who have not bought a specific Core Offer), but we could just as easily do something like this to target ALL leads who haven’t bought anything:

facebook-new-pixel-img11

We’ve now seen how to use parameters in our audience creation process… but what about for conversion tracking?

What if you want to optimize your campaign spend for a specific type of purchase?

If you’ve created campaigns with the objective Website Conversions before, you know that there’s no box to specify parameter values like we did in the WCA setup above:

facebook-new-pixel-img12

This is where custom conversions come into the picture.

(NOTE: Want a proven method for targeting your hottest & most interested visitors—the ones MOST likely to purchase your product or service—pushing them step-by-step through your sales process, and creating a steady stream of high-converting web traffic? Check out the Boomerang Traffic Plan now.)

Setting Up Custom Conversions

Custom conversions were sort of the last shoe to fall in this transition from the old conversion pixels to the new pixel.

It’s what’s kept a lot of people on the sidelines, holding out until the last minute to make the switch.

Setting up a custom conversions works very similarly to a custom audience setup: You can define a specific type of conversion based on URLs visited, events performed, events with certain parameters, etc.

You can access set up for custom conversions in Facebook Ad Manager by going to Tools → Custom Conversions → Create Custom Conversion.

Let’s go through a few examples of what you can use a custom conversion for.

Example 1: Using URL rules to define a custom conversion 

It should be noted that you can use custom conversions to track hits to a specific URL, or a set of URLs, without the need to add event code to your website.

If you have a simple funnel, or merely don’t want to deal with event code, this is a solid option for your conversion tracking.

In the screenshot below, we’re only tracking visits to a specific URL, but you could add more URL patterns and they will work in an OR relationship.

facebook-new-pixel-img13

(RELATED: Facebook Flex Targeting: Now You Can Have Your Cake AND-OR Eat It Too)

Example 2: Using an event + parameter value to define a custom conversion 

facebook-new-pixel-img14

The major issue with custom conversions, up until very recently, was that once you created one, it couldn’t be edited or deleted.

However, now when you visit your custom conversions area in your account, you’ll see that you can select an existing custom conversion and then click Actions and Edit or Delete one.

facebook-new-pixel-img15

Currently, we’re still showing that you have a limit of 20 custom conversions per account, but the rumor is that this will be lifted very soon (most likely in a gradual roll-out, as Facebook typically handles these types of changes), so stay tuned.

Once you’ve set up a custom conversion, it now becomes available as a conversion objective when you’re setting up your ads:

facebook-new-pixel-img16

You can also add it as a dimension in your advertising reporting by going to Columns → Customize Columns → (Choose your custom conversion from the list under the website section).

Better still, you can also pull in your cost per custom conversion and the associated value.

facebook-new-pixel-img17

So… how do you know when to use events vs. custom conversions? Great question!

Optimization Objective: When To Use Events vs. Custom Conversions

Now that we have a basic understanding of events, custom conversions and how they work together, let’s talk a bit about your conversion optimization strategy.

As we showed earlier, if you’re setting up a Website Conversion campaign in Power Editor, you’re going to need to specify a custom conversion or an event as your objective.

Your selection here will be dependent on the audience you’re targeting, and how specific you’d like your optimization to be.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re optimizing for “any occurrence” of an event (lead, purchase, etc.), you will want to use event-based optimization objectives.

An example of this would be running cold traffic to a blog post where you have several CTAs for Lead Magnets.

Assuming you fire the Lead event on all of the Thank You/confirmation pages, then the optimizing for the Lead event would make the most sense, because you don’t want to limit yourself to just one Lead Magnet/path.

Another example of using an event as an optimization objective comes from the eCommerce world.

Let’s say I’m using a carousel ad to drive traffic to some of my most popular products. I might optimize for Add To Cart or Purchase, but I wouldn’t want to limit my optimization to be for a specific product or product category.

On the other hand, revisiting our earlier YouTube funnel example, if you’re retargeting traffic that has already viewed the YouTube blog post, but hasn’t purchased the YouTube Tripwire, I want to be SURE that Facebook is optimizing to people who have the highest propensity to purchase this specific Tripwire.

Thus, I might build a custom conversion for this specific purchase event like so:

facebook-new-pixel-img18

facebook-new-pixel-img19

And then set that as my optimization objective.

Further, if you use URL-based patterns to set up your custom conversions (as we’ll show in the “Easy Setup” in the next section), you’ll have to rely on custom conversions as your optimization objectives, since you won’t have any events available to optimize to.

Now for the fun part…

Your Migration Process: Building Temporary Redundancy and Minimizing Damage 

Time to start getting our hands dirty.

Migrating to the new Facebook pixel can be pretty painless with proper planning.

Our goal here is to build a safety net of sorts… we’re going to use a nifty little trick so that we can migrate to the new pixel syntax, and still fire our old conversion pixels until Facebook removes them from operation.

As we covered earlier, your tagging strategy is based on your funnel architecture, so if you haven’t taken inventory of your funnel lately, now’s a good time to do that.

Grab a piece of paper or a whiteboard and sketch out your funnel, being sure to include all of the key events (Leads, Tripwire sales, Core Offer sales, etc.).

Next, you’re going to lay out all of your current events and old conversion pixels in a spreadsheet so that you can use it as a punch-list as you go through your migration.

If you’d like an example of what this can look like, I have built an Excel document that will allow you to start filling in the nitty-gritty details.

Click here to download the Facebook Pixel Migration Worksheet

Keep in mind: This sheet is not perfect. You can use it as-is or as a starting point for your customized sheet.

You will see that I have completed a few example rows for you to help provide some context.

New Facebook Pixel for eCommerce

Throughout this post, we’ve mainly focused on content-based websites.

If you have an eCommerce store, you pretty much know the events that you’re going to need.

You’ll need, at a minimum, View Content for product views, Add To Cart and Purchase, and you’ll need to pass all of the product information dynamically.

Most eCommerce platforms provide a template-language that will help you accomplish this. For example, in Shopify, you’d be using the Liquid template language. There are also apps that will help you accomplish the tagging pretty painlessly.

New Facebook Pixel Migration Step 1: Creating your “Punch List”

facebook-new-pixel-img20

There’s 2 ways to go about completing this step.

One way is to start with your funnel diagram, and add all of the events you’ll need in columns B, C, & D. Then, you can go back to your Facebook ad account and cross-reference any old conversion pixels that align with those events (or the ones you might have missed), and fill in columns E & F.

You may find it easier to work at this the opposite way, where you’ll go to your old conversion pixels in your Facebook Ad Manager and fill in all of the pixel IDs in column E, then from there you can fill in columns B, C, D, & F.

Of special note is column D – “When/Where Event Should Fire,” where you’ll want to be very explicit about the conditions under which the event should fire.

If you have a Thank You page dedicated to the event, you’ll want to list the URL here.

However, we can’t always rely on Thank You pages. For example, what about when someone clicks to add a product to their cart in an eCommerce store?

(This is another case where Google Tag Manager is a huge help because it has built-in listeners for things like clicks and form submissions.)

In that case, in column D, we’ll want to put as much info as possible about this Add To Cart button, getting into click tracking and using Selectors to identify clicks is a bit beyond the scope of this post, you can find a bit more information here if you’re interested.

New Facebook Pixel Migration Step 2: Choose the best implementation path for your site 

After you’ve created your Punch list of actions you need to track on your site, take a look at column D (When/Where the event should fire).

You have a bit of a decision to make here.

Do you want to use event-based tracking or not?

There are many ways to do this, and you’re not forever locked-in to the decision you make today. For example, you can start by only using custom conversions and add events later.

My recommendation is to use events if at all possible. Events will provide you the ability to do conversion tracking at multiple levels of granularity, along with audience building.

However, IF:

  • Your funnel is fairly simple and you have dedicated Thank You pages for almost every action, AND
  • You’re just not at all comfortable with coding and placing events on your website…

Then you can forego events for now, and rely on custom conversions based on URL rules.

Remember that you can create a custom conversion that fires on many URLs by adding several URL patterns in the custom conversion definition settings.

The New Facebook Pixel “Easy Setup”

Let’s take a look at this arrangement first, which I call the “Easy Setup.” If you’re not using this path, feel free to continue on to the “Standard Setup” instructions (found below).

Check out the full video to see the Easy Setup:

Pros of Easy Setup 

  • Quick to get setup.
  • Very little custom coding to be done.
  • URL-based conversion tracking is familiar to most marketers.

Cons of Easy Setup 

  • Audiences and conversions take longer to setup in FB Ad Manager interface.
  • Each time a funnel action is added or changed (new Lead Magnet, changed Thank You page, etc.), you will have to go back into your custom conversion settings and audience settings and make the proper alterations.
  • Not as powerful/flexible for targeting or optimization.

The New Facebook Pixel “Standard Setup” 

For the “Standard Setup,” we’re going to be taking full advantage of the new events.

Check out the video here for a complete walkthrough example of the Standard Setup: Using your funnel diagram to build out your sheet and generate your Facebook code, and then how to setup your custom audiences and custom conversions (if needed):

Go ahead and assign your events and parameters in columns G (“New Pixel Event Type”) and H (“New Pixel Parameters”) for each row in your Punch List.

You’ll want to put the parameter name (no spaces, use underscores if necessary), a colon, and then the value of the parameter in single quotes (again, no spaces and avoid special characters).

If you have multiple parameters, put a comma after the value, EXCEPT for the last entry in the list, like so:

content_name: ‘YouTubeOverlayGuide’,

funnel_stage: ‘leadmagnet’

(To go to a new line inside a Google Sheets cell, hit ALT + ENTER)

Once you’ve filled in your events and parameters, it’s time to grab our event code.

I’ve put together a few helper functions that will create the event code for you (output in column M) just be sure that you follow the pattern laid out in the example rows.

A disclaimer here: This Google Sheet does generate the event code for you, but it’s not iron-clad – you’ll want to review the code that’s generated and ensure there’s no syntax errors, etc.

When you copy and paste the code from the Google Sheet, you’ll notice that it wraps the <script> block in double-quotes. You’ll want to remove those double-quotes before pasting into your site code.

The generated event code in the far-right column will do 2 things:

  1. Fire your new event.
  2. Fire your old conversion pixel using the new Facebook Pixel syntax.

Here’s an example of what this looks like:

facebook-new-pixel-img22

You would add this code to the appropriate page BELOW the base tag (or fire it after the base tag completes using Google Tag Manager).

Thus, we’ll have redundancy.

You can continue to use the old conversion pixel as an optimization objective (until Facebook removes them), and you can begin to migrate your conversion objectives over to the new events (or custom conversions based on those events).

A special note here is that you’ll want to remove your old conversion pixel code AND your old remarketing code from your pages when you install this, where appropriate.

Another thing to keep in mind about firing the old conversion pixels using the new syntax: if you have a purchase conversion pixel and you need to pass over value and currency, you can do so like this (covered in column F of the spreadsheet).

facebook-new-pixel-img23

Pros of Standard Setup

  • Scalable, flexible and powerful: Enables several layers of granularity for conversion tracking and audience construction.
  • Easier reporting, conversion and audience setup.

Cons of Standard Setup 

  • Takes a little more initial setup work.
  • You’re still placing your code on the page, which is not ideal (using GTM is superior) and requires some attention to ensure future content gets the appropriate event code added.

In what I call the “Optimal Setup,” you would follow the same preparation steps as the Standard Setup, but instead of placing our tagging directly on your website, you would use Google Tag Manager to house everything.

The time to begin planning your migration is now… late 2016 is quickly approaching, as that ominous Facebook Ad Manager message continues to remind us.

facebook-new-pixel-img24

Click here to download the Facebook Pixel Migration Worksheet

Have questions? I’m sure you do!

Ask the DigitalMarketer team and 8,865 other members in the DM Engage Facebook Group!

Not a DM Lab Member? Learn more here.

(NOTE: Want a proven method for targeting your hottest & most interested visitors—the ones MOST likely to purchase your product or service—pushing them step-by-step through your sales process, and creating a steady stream of high-converting web traffic? Check out the Boomerang Traffic Plan now.)


About Andrew Tweito

Andrew Tweito is the founder of FunnelBoom, a digital marketing agency that specializes in "funnel engineering" and ad management in the e-commerce and content marketing niches.   Andrew's background includes predictive analytics, javascript and copywriting and FunnelBoom prides itself on connecting the business and technical sides of marketing to deliver ROI.  When he's not pondering pixels, you can find Andrew playing golf and supporting the Clemson Tigers.

View all Posts by Andrew Tweito