Let’s cut through the faff – essentially, it’s all to do with the Facebook Pixel. In a nutshell, Facebook’s tracking pixel is a handy tool for marketers to ensure their advertisements are being seen by the right audiences. Amongst the general climate of law changes and overhauls in the tech industry this year, Facebook has announced that it’s making big update to its tracking pixel on Wednesday the 24th of October, offering advertisers the option to use first-party cookies. Bear with me, as it gets a bit technical, but trust me when I say it’s good news for you.
A lot of this may be tricky to follow if you’re not technically minded, so let me break it down for you. If you’re already up to speed on the technical terms, you can safely skip to the next heading.
What’s the Facebook Pixel?
Basically, the Facebook Pixel is the name that the platform has given to its signature analytics tool. It’s designed to help you keep track of conversions from Facebook ads, optimise advertisements based on your collected data, build audiences for future ads, and remarket to people who’ve shown an interest in your business.
Once you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel on your site, it works by placing and triggering cookies (basically, pieces of code) on the hard drives of users when they visit your site or click on one of your Facebook ads. You can then use these cookies to learn more about their browsing behaviour. The information collected by cookies is vital for effective conversion rate optimisation, and other activities geared towards maximising your return on investment.
What are third and first party cookies?
A first-party cookie is a piece of code created by the site that you’re visiting at that point in time. Amazon is a well-known example – basically, it installs a first-party cookie on your computer the first time you visit the site. The next time you visit, Amazon uses data provided by those first-party cookies to recommend other products you might like, based on what you viewed or bought previously.
Third-party cookies, on the other hand, are cookies available on that same site, but created by a different entity. So, say Amazon uses the Facebook Pixel (which it does, by the way). When you visit Amazon in this case, you’ll come away with a Facebook cookie. Both Facebook and Amazon will then use this third-party cookie to learn more about how you’ve interacted with Amazon itself, as well as the social media ads it’s published across Facebook.
Currently, the Facebook Pixel works using data solely from third-party cookies. The trouble with that is that these third-party cookies is that they’re increasingly being blocked by intelligent tracking prevention software such as those present in Adblockers, which are increasingly widely used. Tracking prevention software is also being built into browsers like Safari directly. As you can imagine, this has the effect of severely limiting the amount of useful data available to marketers.
First party cookies, on the other hand, can’t be blocked in the same way, making them far more useful to modern marketers. Facebook says that the solution will enable the continued effectiveness of ad targeting for advertisers, as well as preserving measurement and analytics.
Not necessarily, but they’d be helpful! There will be some companies that choose not to, but these will mostly be organisations working with sensitive information like medical or financial data. The exceptionally personal nature of the data, as well as the strict controls in these industries likely means dealing with various complicated legalities arising from the change, so they’ll probably just save themselves the hassle.
That’s very unlikely to be something you’ll have to worry about, though. As I’ve mentioned, as far as most people are concerned the change won’t be very dramatic. Mostly it’s just allowing you to collect valuable data you can use for remarketing. It’s not mandatory to enable first party cookies within Facebook, but it’s worth knowing that not doing so will limit the information Facebook will be able to share with you on campaign measurement, affecting your ability to gauge your Return On Investment.
The first-party cookies won’t go live until October 24th, later on this week. Before and after that point, you can choose whether to use third or first-party cookies in your Facebook Pixels simply by logging into your Facebook business account and going to the Events Manager. Under Pixel and Cookie settings, you can opt to turn off first-party cookies. Otherwise, they’ll be enabled automatically. Any new pixels will automatically include first-party cookies unless advertisers opt out.
Facebook has been sending out emails to explain the move in more detail, so it’s worth checking your inbox if you’ve not spotted one yet. From a user’s perspective, the controls over ads won’t change – so on your personal Facebook, you’ll still be able to tell Facebook which ads you do and don’t want to see!
It’s not the only recent change Facebook’s made – we’ve posted previously about how the company has recently removed 5000 ad targeting options to stay ahead of some recent controversies, which has the potential to affect your ad campaigns. Don’t worry though – that’s what we’re here for. Social media is a key part of our offering here at 21Digital Agency, and we know exactly how to use it to help you get a fantastic return on your investment. Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on 01254 660 560 to see what we can do for you!
As 21Digital Agency PPC Executive, Uzair Shafique has a proven track record in creating bespoke PPC campaigns that convert. He combines his technical ability and analytical skills with a creative and forward-thinking mindset – along with his in-depth knowledge of Google ads, he’s got a particular talent for writing persuasive, short-form sales copy that maximises customer click-through rates.