4 minutes

5 things a marketer needs to know about the Facebook Conversions API

The dreaded iOS 14 update made all us Paid Social Marketers take a *gulp* and, as expected I started to see a turn in my clients results - and not for the best! Especially those who had amazing results using custom audiences. 

With paid ads it’s all about testing, testing and then a little more testing, things can change all the time (regardless of the iOS 14 update)… it’s just what we have to expect. But with the update in full swing it was more important than ever to be keeping a close eye on results and to adjust current strategies to ensure I am able to keep my clients happy with their paid social results. 

For anyone that doesn’t have a clue what the iOS 14 meant and why we (paid social marketers) were sitting at home rocking back and forth, worrying about our future - our careers! (okay, I’m being a little dramatic but just trying to set the scene)… this update restricts the use of cookies for tracking on Apple mobile devices. We can no longer trust the data from the Facebook pixel - it’s not giving us the full picture. More and more consumers are opting out so we can no longer see what they’re up to! (I personally don’t get why people do this - surely you want targeted ads, not complete random, unaligned ads that you have zero interest in?!).

And just like that, the Facebook Conversions API saved the day. Here’s five things every marketer needs to know about it…

What is it?

Enter the Facebook Conversions API. This little gem collects and shares first-party data directly from your own servers rather than relying on third party cookies from web browsers, allowing digital marketers to access conversion data when customers have blocked cookies in their browser or on their mobile app!

Here’s how Facebook itself lays out the difference between Facebook pixel and the conversions API:

“The pixel lets you share web events from a web browser, while the conversions API lets you share web events directly from your server.”

“If sending browser pixel events is like sending mail via airmail, then sending server events is like sending mail via freight. They are both mechanisms to transport the package (data about an event) to a destination address (a Pixel ID).”

What does it track?

Through the Facebook Conversions API, you can track three kinds of data:

  • Web conversions
  • Post conversion events
  • Page visits

By allowing you to include info like CRM data and qualified leads, you end up with greater insight into your sales funnel than you’d have access to from using the Facebook Pixel alone, and it also provides data for:

Ad targeting (like custom audiences and retargeting)

Ad reporting

Audience Insights

Dynamic ads

Conversion optimisation for Facebook ads

What are the benefits?

According to Facebook the main benefits of using The Conversions API are:

Reduce your cost per action as a result of improved connectivity. Data from the Conversions API is less affected than the pixel by browser loading errors, connectivity issues and ad blockers. When you use the Conversions API alongside the pixel, it creates a more reliable connection that helps the delivery system decrease your cost per action.

Optimise ads for actions that happen later in the customer's journey. Examples of these events include actions that happen after a purchase (such as subscriptions), actions that happen in shops or even customer scores. This information helps Facebook show your ads to customers who are more likely to be profitable and generate value for your business.

Improve measurement. The Conversions API can help you better measure ad performance and attribution across your customer's full journey, from discovery to conversion. This helps you better understand how digital advertising affects both online and offline results.

Reduce your cost per action as a result of increased event matching. Your marketing data is most effective when it can be matched with accounts on Facebook apps and services. With the Conversions API, you can include additional customer information parameters that help increase matched events and your event match quality score.

Increase data control. When implemented separately from the pixel, the Conversions API gives you more control over what you share and when you share it.

Where to start

When it comes to getting started, there are two ways to set up the Conversions API:

Partner integration set up

If code and technical skill isn’t your bag, the partner integration is by far the simplest method to get you up and running without the need for developer assistance.

1. In Events Manager, choose your pixel from the Data Sources tab and click Settings in the top menu.

Source: Events Manager

  1. Scroll down to the Conversions API section and click Choose a Partner under Set up through a partner integration.

Source: Events Manager

  • Choose your provider from the pop-up gallery. This will take you into the specific setup instructions for your partner integration.

    Manual set up through Events Manager

    A little less straightforward, but if you’re looking for more control through a manual setup this can be done, but bear in mind you will need access to your server codebase and assistance from a developer to complete this method. 

  • In Events Manager, select the pixel you want to use to set up the conversions API.
  • Click Add Events and select Using the Conversions API.
  • Click Install code manually, read the overview, and click Continue.
  • Choose the events you want to track. If you’re not sure, check out Facebook’s event recommendations in the dropdown menu. When you’re done, click Continue.
  • Select the parameters for each event and click Continue.
  • Click Confirm Setup, then Send Instructions.
  • Enter your developer’s email address and click Send. It’s a good idea to check the box that says Send me a copy of this email so you have a copy for your files.


After this the ball is in your developer’s court!

Why they’re better together?

There’s nothing to say you can’t use the Facebook Pixel and Conversions API harmoniously, it certainly doesn’t have to be one or the other. In fact, when you use the Conversions API along with other Facebook Business Tools, you can gain additional insights into the people who interact with your business. According to Facebook, best practice is to use the Conversions API alongside the Facebook pixel to really boost the effectiveness of your website events.

Website events sent through the Conversions API are linked to your pixel and behave like events sent through the pixel in the following ways:

  • They're used for the same types of ad optimisation, including conversion optimisation and value optimisation.
  • They appear on most of the same surfaces, including Ads Manager and Events Manager.
  • They obey the Off-Facebook activity tool and the third-party data ads personalisation control, as well as other restrictions in the Facebook Business Tools Terms.
  • Like the pixel, the Conversions API isn't designed to be a means to bypass data sharing policies such as iOS AppTrackingTransparency or privacy rules in Europe such as the ePrivacy Directive.

Connect with me on LinkedIn here if you’re keen to continue the conversation!