Facebook and Instagram are the #1 sales and marketing channels for Shopify store owners. Facebook Conversion API (aka CAPI) has become an incredibly hot topic after Apple’s revolutionary data sharing and processing changes with iOS 14. In this article, we will take a deep dive into Facebook Pixel, Facebook Conversion API, the differences between them, their importance, best practices, and most importantly how to set up FB Conversion API on Shopify.
In a nutshell, there are three core reasons based on three facts:
After iOS14 changes that Apple released in April 2021 (*1),
Apple users have the opportunity to opt-out from
tracking. As Apple states: “App developers are required to ask users for their permission to track them across apps and
websites owned by other companies”.
When a visitor clicks on a website ad on Instagram and
Facebook mobile apps, the website opens in a special
browser called in-app Safari. Tracking is not allowed
there as Safari and Instagram/Facebook are different
apps. The only thing passed is the FB Click ID.
However, this is of no use if the user does not
immediately purchase the product.
FB Conversion API works on the server-side and tries to attribute the users using user data, which we will explain in more detail below.
27% of American internet users and 42% of global users use ad blockers.(*2) Effect on tracking: Ad blockers block the FB Pixel and all possible tracking requests.
So when the user lands on the website the tracking is lost and no data is shared with Facebook anymore. Facebook won’t know which user added to the cart or purchased the product.
Safari, Firefox and Mozilla have become stricter with 3rd party cookies. Effect on tracking: As detailed in this article, Facebook leaves a cookie on the user’s browser in order to be able to associate the further actions.
If the visitor buys the next day rather than in the same session, the FB Pixel will recognize the user from the cookie. However, as 3rd party cookie lifetime is now very short (7 days usually), it becomes very difficult to detect.
FB Conversion API and Shopify server-side tagging in general works on the cloud – server-side. So the ad blockers don’t block those requests.
Facebook Pixel is one of the first things to install when you create a Shopify store because you (and Facebook) want to know in what ways the visitors interact with your website. For example;
All of this data is sent to Facebook via Pixel so that the marketing team or Shopify store owner should know which ads/ad copies/products/platforms/images perform better and calculate ROI.
However, Facebook Pixel works at the browser level. Thus, requests and data are processed through the visitor’s browser. It is vulnerable to ad blockers, iOS limitations, and browser cookie policies.
FB Conversion API works at the server level. Requests are sent directly to Facebook Servers from Shopify Server or from your own server, depending on the FB CAPI Setup Shopify method you use.
For example, when a purchase occurs, all user information (first name, last name, zip code, email, etc.) is sent to Facebook at the server level along with the purchase event. Facebook CAPI tries to find that specific user within the list of users that clicked the ad.
You can imagine this as manually checking users on both sides. Facebook already has the list of all users who saw and/or clicked on the ad. And it can not track further. Facebook CAPI, on the other hand, sends another user list together with the purchase event. In this way, FB Server tries to match the users who click the ads with the users who make purchases. Of course, this is not as simple as we described, and much more complex than that. We just illustrated it in a simple way 🙂
Facebook calls this technology Advanced Matching Web, and you can learn more about it on their official documentation.
There are several ways to set up FB CAPI on Shopify stores. The fastest and easiest one is obviously the native integration using the Facebook Sales Channel. It only installs the FB CAPI on the Shopify server. Remember — this is not a complete server-side tagging setup. Therefore, you will continue to have problems with remarketing events. If you are looking for complete server-side tagging, including FB CAPI, Google Analytics, and Google Ads, then you should consider Analyzify Server-Side Tagging Add-on.
Analyzify Server-Side Tagging is a great deal. We will set up everything for you, validate, deliver, maintain and train your team.
We do offer a complete server-side tagging setup that includes server-side GTM, Analytics, Google Ads, and FB Conversion API. We ask you to create a Google Cloud account and then do your complete server-side tagging on your account.
Just like the regular version of Analyzify, our server-side tagging setup will be served under your properties. We will not collect or pass any data to our properties. All the data will flow into your own Google Analytics, Google Cloud and GTM accounts. Our team will be responsible for the setup and validation.
The server-side tagging works on top of your regular data analytics setup. However, you first need to have a solid data analytics setup, data layers, and web-GTM container to run the server-side tracking. That’s why it is an add-on to our core version.
Analyzify’s server-side tagging add-on costs $2790: a one-time fee for setup, service, and support. The core version of Analyzify is $749, also a one-time fee, in addition to 3-months of expert support. An additional 1-month support fee is $179.
You will also need a Google Cloud account to run the server-side tagging. It comes with a $300 free credit; but depending on your traffic, it might cost between $60 – $90/month.
The Server-side tagging is a whole another concept. It doesn’t only include Facebook Conversion API – but it also makes Google Tag Manager (sGTM), Google Analytics, Google Ads work through the server. It overcomes ad blockers and the Safari’s and iOS’ cookie lifetime limitations. Last but not least, it sends more data to Facebook (compared to the native integration) so the event match rates go higher.
Client-side tracking is the typical tracking method that almost all websites currently use. Almost every action takes place in the visitor’s browser. When a visitor visits our websites, Google Tag Manager (if installed) runs through the browser (e.g. Google Chrome or Safari), reads the data layers (if installed), and sends requests to 3rd parties along with the related data attached to it.
As for the server-side tracking, the data collection and processing happen on your server. You can check our article if you wish to learn the concept further.
After the initial setup, we have a data validation phase where we send all the data into staging properties and cross-compare it with the original data. We move your setup to production once we are 100% sure. The total process takes 5 to 7 days.
If you already have the core version of Analyzify on your Shopify store, just go ahead to the app settings and Get Started on the Server-Side Tagging add-on. Else, you can start with Analyzify and you’ll have the option to purchase the add-on after your setup is complete.