The Conversions API has other benefits, as explained by Facebook: It bypasses web browsers as the means of passing along data. Instead, data goes directly from the brand’s website to Facebook’s ad server. “The way that the Conversions API works is a direct connection between the advertiser and their server, and a Facebook server,” Mudd says. “It’s not going through the browser in the way that a pixel does.”
But what can the Conversions API do? Mudd says it is particularly useful for brands like automotive companies and financial services firms, which still transact much of their sales offline. Internet tracking tools can’t pick up an in-store event, but retailers can still collect that data offline and try to match those consumers to their online activity. That could also give the brands a way to identify similar consumers, and Facebook can help make those connections.
The Conversions API also is made for purely digital brands, according to Mudd. “Even an e-commerce company, when they see a new customer, they predict the lifetime value of that customer based on their behavior on the website, that’s a prediction that they make on their own,” he says. “They may want to tell us, ‘Hey, this is a particularly high LTV customer, please help me find more of those.’”
Amy Rumpler, VP of paid social at Centro, a Facebook marketing partner, says that the Conversions API also is useful because Facebook’s “pixel” technology is losing its effectiveness. Pixels are strings of code that brands place on their websites, and are a mainstay of the online ad ecosystem. Pixels help marketers retarget consumers outside of their brand websites—but not if the web browsers are erasing consumers' tracks. Facebook’s Conversions API is one solution, Rumpler says. “[Facebook’s] goal is to get that adoption up … because the pixel is less reliable,” she says.
“Right now, the recommendation is still to use the Facebook Pixel but also start to go down the road of enabling the Conversions API,” Rumpler says. “So that you have both in place and, thereby, get as much performance data as possible. And also, you can tap into as much audience data as possible to make sure that you still have the ability to do things like create custom audiences based off of different segments of people visiting your website.”
One of the challenges with the Conversions API is that it does require some technical engineering to implement, meaning it has mostly been adopted by the more-sophisticated brands and marketers. Meanwhile, many of Facebook's smaller marketers still rely almost exclusively on the pixel. “It is suited to larger clients,” Mudd says, although the idea is to make it accessible to more marketers over time.