3rd party data has been a hot topic amongst the public and within the Facebook advertising industry in the last few months. In the wake of Cambridge Analytica, strengthening of privacy laws in the EU, and increased scrutiny from congress, Facebook has moved to restrict access to user data within its advertising platform. The message from Facebook is clear: the days of 3rd party data are over. In this new world, 1st party data reigns supreme.The concept of “1st party data” is simple. It is data you as the end-advertiser collect on your own, with no reliance on a third party to obtain it. The Facebook Pixel is a simple and direct way for you to build audiences with 1st party data - i.e. your own web traffic. So while the prospect of data generation might sound scary to those in the SMB space, the pixel actually makes that data building quite easy. It requires very little technical know-how or effort to install. It’s as simple as copy/pasting 10 lines of code and waiting a few days for the Pixel to get some fires.
Facebook bills the Pixel as “a piece of code for your website that lets you measure, optimize and build audiences for your ad campaigns.” Funnily enough, this tagline is actually in reverse order in how one should approach leveraging the Pixel. In practice, the order of operations best works like this:
From the moment you install the Facebook pixel on your website it begins tracking visitors and matches them to Facebook users. While website visitor data alone opens up its own set of tactics (e.g. remarketing via Paid Search), where the power of the Pixel truly manifests itself is through Lookalike Audiences. These audiences are created by Facebook hashing the website visitor data captured by the pixel and finding other users with similar attributes. It works out something like this:
The lookalike process is anonymized: you won’t know exactly what traits the hash aggregates, but that’s okay. The resulting Lookalike Audience generated will include users with similar characteristics whom have not yet visited the website. Put simply, Lookalike Audiences create an avenue to finding new customers.
For example, a golf related e-commerce website might have a lot of users visiting their website, who also like the PGA Tour Facebook Page, and/or are “interested in” golf. The Lookalike Audiences will account for this - Facebook will literally find more people who like the PGA Tour Facebook Page, are also “interested in” golf, and share similar traits and demographics as the website visitors.
Lookalikes are also available with Custom lists, provided your business has such information like name, email, and phone number stored for your customers or prospects. The Pixel is not only perfect for audience building, it also enables you to measure the success of your ad campaigns more effectively. Pixel tracking also let’s you track website behavior, such as ‘adds to cart’ or ‘newsletter signups’ and, if set-up correctly, can even provide a view on the dollar return of conversions.
If you’re skeptical about pasting the Pixel on your site, think again… The data speaks for itself:
- The sock e-commerce company Bombas saw a 2X increase in product purchases and a 23X increase in sales per ad set using Lookalike Audiences based on their most valuable customers.
- When the fast food chain Rally’s and Checker’s added Lookalike Audiences to their targeting for it’s “1 Day Deal” campaign, it saw a 10% increase in sales over the previous year.
- Game Hive targeted its ads to a Lookalike Audience based on those whom already downloaded the app and saw a 40% increase in app installs.
In all the examples above, and many more, advertisers took their campaigns to the next level by leveraging the audience building and measuring power enabled by the Facebook Pixel. Just 10 lines of code gives every business, from sole proprietors, to the nation’s biggest brands, access to first-party data. No outside research firms or guesswork required.
Chris Mayer is a Client Solutions Lead at Tiger Pistol and leads onboarding of U.S. partners. He has extensive experience in the brand and SMB Facebook advertising space.
Coming soon: Offers: Digitizing your print coupons with Facebook Offer Ads, by Patrick Koepke.