“The Power Is In The Pixel”
- Facebook’s new custom audience pixel… the PowerGlove of Digital Marketing?
- Quick Overview: What are custom audiences and how are they created
- The Components of the new Facebook Custom Audience Pixel and the “Events”
- Example 1: Set up the “Lead” event properly to segment your website’s hand-raisers
- Example 2: Set up the “ViewContent” event to laser-target the right ad to deliver to your readers
- Conclusion and video walkthrough Bonus: The FB Pixel Implemenation Blueprint
If you’re a child of the 80’s / 90’s like me… you might remember a real gem of a movie called: “The Wizard”
It was the story of a child who travels across the country to compete in a “Nintendo Tournament”… and there was some other weird primary plot about kidnapping, parental rights, etc…
But if you saw the movie as a kid, there were only two things about this movie that mattered:
- You get to see a kid play Super Mario 3, on a big-screen, in front of an arena full of people… for a “Championship” (“Video Armageddon”!)
- At one point in the movie, the main character’s archrival unveils “The PowerGlove”
“The Powerglove” was a glove that allowed you to control your NES games by using your hand motions and a wrist-mounted controller…
Now, this was YEARS before the Wii or any other mainstream motion control… so as you can imagine how INCREDIBLE this seemed to a kid between the ages of 5 – 10 years old.
Nevermind that the Powerglove was essentially useless in practice… the feeling of awe and “I can only imagine what I could do with technology that gives me that much control” was what I really remember.
A few weeks back, Facebook released a new version of their Custom Audience pixel…
And when I dug into the details and realized what they’d done… I felt like I’d just rediscovered the Powerglove.
Ok, it’s not that cool… but it’s powerful none-the-less…. Let’s Get into it!
In 5 minutes you will be:
- A “wizard” with the new FB Custom Audience pixel
- Well on your way to implementing the new pixel for your business (even if you’re afraid of coding, tags, etc.)
Here I have a “branch” in the path of this post for you.
If you already have a basic understanding of what custom audiences are, and want to get straight to the discussion of the new pixel and how to set it up:
click ol’ Hasselhoff to skip down the page…
Quick Overview of Facebook Custom Audiences
If you’re new to Facebook advertising… (or online advertising in general), you should know that “Custom Audiences” (CA) are a huge key to online advertising success.
Think of CA as a way laser-target your audience based on things like:
- Their interests, demographics, online behavior, geographic location… etc. Pretty much anything you can think of (called “3rd party” data)
- Which events they have (or have not) performed on your site (joined email-list, viewed certain products, bought products, etc.)
- Which pages or groups of pages they have (or have not) visited on your site
- Other custom combinations of the three things listed above (and more)
Now, this might seem very complex at first… but we’ll dive into some example in just a moment and this will all seem much more attainable.
In Facebook and Twitter (and some other ad platforms), you can also upload your email list to create a custom audience….
But for today, we’re going to focus on the “on-site” behavior and how you can use it to better segment and target your traffic.
The way you track all of these audiences on your site is through a tracking “pixel” (or “tag”).
“Pixel” and “Tag” are just short ways of describing a piece of code that you place on your website so that you can transmit data to the ad-platforms about your website’s users and their behaviors.
Don’t let the mention of “code” scare you here…
We’re not talking about writing a bunch of custom code. We’re mainly talking about copying and pasting “boilerplate” code in the right spots on your site with minor modifications.
The Components of the New Facebook Custom Audience Pixel and “Events”
As mentioned before, Facebook recently launched an update to their “Custom Audience Pixel”.
In the past, you had separate pixels for audiences and conversions. Each time you had a new “conversion” event that you needed to optimize ad-spend for, you had to generate a new pixel and place it appropriately on your site.
As you can imagine, especially for larger sites, this quickly became a nightmare to manage and track.
However, with this new update, you only need ONE base pixel to handle building audiences and tracking conversions (with the addition of some simple “events”).
The base-pixel tracks pageviews “out of the box”, so if you just install the base tracking code across your site, you’ll be able to create audiences based on URL-based filters (you can also use logical AND – OR statements and exclusions to target specific sets of pages).
When someone performs an event you would like to track on your site, you send a simple call to Facebook that contains the name of the event, along with descriptive details about that event (parameters).
From the screenshot above, for a purchase event, you’re required to pass in the currency and value parameters.
I’ve also added a few “optional parameters”: content_name and content_category.
These parameters are used in your ad account back-end to further segment and target users (which is extremely powerful).
Note: If this seems intimidating / complex right now, don’t worry, it will all make more sense when we go through a few examples in a moment.
There are nine standard events… here’s an overview from Facebook’s documentation:
In addition to these nine “standard events”, you can also send your own “custom events”, which can contain any set of parameters that you like. Pretty sweet huh?
The only catch to “custom events” is: they can only be used for “audience building” at this time… as in, you can’t use them as an optimization objective or conversion event for a campaign.
Since your eyes are probably 90% glazed-over from all the boring tech-speak, let’s dive into some examples before your head hits the keyboard.
Example 1: The “Lead” Event
Utilize the “Lead” event to identify and segment your audience who have “opted-in” or completed a key form on your site.
This event is going to be especially important for those of you who want to use ads to build your email list.
The process of acquiring a “lead” usually works something like this:
- traffic goes to blog post (or other page) which has an email subscription form
- users fill out form and (optionally) get redirected to a thank-you page
Bryan Harris over @ VideoFruit uses the approach of having a “dedicated lead magnet” for many of his blog-posts (which is a strategy we employ as well)… this means, at the end of his blog post, he offers an expansion or more thorough exploration of the blog post’s main idea, which can be accessed by opting-in to his email list.
Let’s use him as an unsolicited example here 🙂
So, wouldn’t it be nice if Bryan could laser-retarget folks who have downloaded a specific lead magnet or a specific category of lead magnets?
In order to do that, we need to send Facebook certain parameters about the lead magnet that the user is opting in to receive.
So, let’s take a look at an example, from this recent blog post of his: “All the stuff I screwed up during my product launch.”
Clearly, this post is primarily targeting folks who would possibly like to launch their own products and want to learn from Bryan’s experience (his launch did over $200K).
Once you opt-in to his email list, you’re redirected to a dedicated thank you page.
For our example, let’s build this “Lead” event (which would fire on the thank you page), one parameter at a time:
value: Let’s assume that Bryan knows that an email subscriber, on average, is worth $2 to him.
content_category: Next, let’s add some “meta-data” about the lead magnet.
One of my “go-to” strats for audience building is to categorize content / lead magnets / trip wires / products by the “result” that we’re trying to help our readers achieve.
Let’s assume Bryan wants to help his readers accomplish 3 major things (and I think this is pretty close to reality from closely following his content over the years):
- Build Their Email List
- Launch A Product
- Sell Services
So, Bryan might categorize all of his content & lead magnets under those three “over-arching” results.
That way, he can specifically retarget folks for the specific result they’re looking to achieve!
Pro Tip: I’ve found its best to remove any spaces from the values of your parameters… The Ad Manager backend seems to have a hard time with spaces. Example: From above, we’ve removed spaces from the content_name and content_category values (“LaunchEmailSeqSwipe”, “LaunchProduct”).
Of course, you’ll need to replace the values in the code-snippet above with the values that are appropriate for your situation.
If you’re going to place the code directly in your page source, this can go anywhere after your Facebook “Base Code”.
I’d highly, highly recommend using Google Tag Manager to implement this (access the FB Pixel Implementation Blueprint for video walkthrough).
The Result: Now, Bryan could use this audience to target people who have opted-in and indicated that they’re interested in launching their own product…
OR, he could use this audience to build a look-a-like audience.
Then, when he creates a new post related to launching a product, he can deliver ads to the “LaunchProduct Opt-In” look-a-like Audience to get his ad in front of a new, high-propensity audience!
Example 2: The “ViewContent” Event
Next up, let’s look at the “View Content” event.
View content is an interesting event because it can be used / interpreted in a few different ways.
The primary use-case is for e-commerce site owners who want to track people who have “viewed” different products.
The secondary use-case, for you content marketers out there, would be to track a category or sub-category of your content.
Let’s focus on using “ViewContent” for content tracking.
On my site, I use the View Content event on every page view, and pass in the following information:
- Content Type
- Content Persona
- Content Result
- Content Estimated Skill Level
- Content Funnel
This way, I can break down my traffic by any and all of those splits.
Now, you don’t NEED all of this granularity / complexity, especially up-front.
But, what you can do is just pass in the “category” of your content, so that you can retarget folks more precisely, depending on the types of posts they read on your site.
This is obviously much more beneficial for a site with a lot of traffic or a lot of categories (like a media site), but I would imagine you can think of at least one way you’d like to segment your content.
Going back to Bryan Harris as an example, and extending our assumptions about his Audience’s goal “results”, here’s what he might send on each pageview:
We’re passing a shortened version of the article name in for the content_name variable, and the “Result” we talked about earlier (LaunchProduct) for the content_category variable.
Again, this code can go anywhere on the page after the Facebook base pixel code, but I’d recommend placing it immediately after (or use GTM, like a champ).
Note that there are no mandatory parameters for the view content event… but if you don’t send over any extra descriptive data, then you might as well just use the “out of the box” URL-based logic to create your audiences.
After you set this event up and start getting traffic to your pages, you can go set up an audience like this:
The Result: After creating this audience, Bryan could combine his “ViewContent” events with his “Lead” events to send an ad to prospects who have viewed his “LaunchProduct” content, but have not yet opted-in.
As you can see, if you configure your FB events to mirror your funnel, you can quickly create an “evergreen” audience system that enables you to deliver the right offer, messaging, creative to each part of the funnel.
Conclusion and Next Steps
If you’re actively advertising on Facebook, get started with implementing the new pixel today.
While it may sound like a daunting task at first, the new pixel format makes the process relatively straight-forward, especially if you utilize GTM or another tag management system.
To help you along the way (and to provide a more in-depth look at some of the features of the new Facebook Custom Audiences), I’ve put together a mini-course on Facebook implementation using Google Tag Manager below.
The “FB Pixel Implementation Blueprint” is “pay-what-you-like” for now, so you can get it for free or whatever you think the value is relative to the time you’ll save from trying to gather all of this information from the Facebook and GTM documentation 🙂
Inside I have 4 videos covering the Base Pixel Install, the Lead event (on Thank You pages and on form submit events), the Purchase event, and tips on debugging ensuring that all the event timings work through Google Tag Manager.
There’s also a swipe file on the “Standard Events” and their parameters.
You can click the image below to get your access.