The Marketers Guide to Facebook CAPI
Maximize Facebook ROI through a best-in-class integration strategy leveraging Facebook's Conversion API
May 10, 2022
If you work in digital marketing, chances are at some point in your career you’ve spent at least a couple thousand dollars on Facebook ads. The social media platform turned advertising giant is responsible for roughly ten percent of global ad revenues. In 2021 alone, Facebook generated nearly $115 billion in advertising revenue with that number expected to reach $203 billion by 2026.
Surprisingly, Facebook’s monetization model is relatively simple: connect the right consumers to the right ads, at the right time. The secret ingredient to this $115B annual recipe? Customer data. With over 2.9 billion users signed up and 66% of them interacting daily, Facebook (now Meta) owns one of the largest, most valuable consumer data sets in existence. With it, comes the unique ability to ensure that Meta gives their advertisers the ability to reach any of their desired audiences.
The early days of Facebook Ads showcased relatively simple targeting capabilities. You could build audiences by combining the demographic data provided during user account creation, with individual user interests based on their liked pages. While successful, Facebook couldn’t stop there. To unlock better, more highly personalized advertising capabilities, Facebook rolled out the Facebook Pixel in 2013. The Facebook Pixel (now also called the Meta Pixel) is a small piece of code placed on an advertiser’s website that is able to send customer events back to the platform using cookie-based tracking. These browser events or “conversion signals” gave Facebook insight for the first time into the down-funnel conversion events occurring outside of the Facebook platform – unlocking new capabilities like retargeting audiences, lookalike audiences, and an end-to-end conversion tracking loop for attribution reporting and spend optimization.
Place these pixels on millions of websites, add in Facebook’s rich demographic data sets, plus some of the world's most advanced machine learning models, and well - there’s the foundation that led to $115B in annual revenue.
While the Meta Pixel has been wildly successful for the advertising giant, thanks to the rise of ad blockers, and continued browser & IOS tracking changes, its ability to accurately send customer signals is on the decline – and with it, the foundation of what built the early days of Facebook Ads.
Enter CAPI - or the Facebook Conversions API.
What is CAPI?
CAPI is an API made readily available by Meta so that advertisers can send conversions directly to Facebook Ads Manager using server-side events. Server-side tracking events remove the reliance on “browser-based” pixel tracking, helping you to more effectively get your most valuable signals to the platform for utilization in audience building and campaign optimization. In simpler terms, CAPI lets you send events from your back-end business applications instead of only sending those signals through the user’s browser where they will often be blocked. Additionally, with CAPI, you can enrich the signals with first-party data - reducing Facebook’s reliance on third-party cookies to match events to customer profiles. While it may sound a bit more complicated, this server-side solution is actually a much more accurate way to pass signals to Facebook, and is the foundation of a best-in-class integration that can add substantial value to your Facebook advertising efforts.
Sending Events to CAPI
Thanks to Facebook’s treasure trove of user data and cutting-edge identity resolution and attribution technologies, Facebook is able and incentivized to process all attribution efforts in-platform on behalf of advertisers. Because of this, unlike many other advertisers, Facebook needs ALL of your conversion events - regardless of where you may believe these conversions were sourced from. Yes, this means direct conversions from Google should still be sent to Facebook. Once Facebook matches these events to customer profiles, Facebook’s attribution technology is able to understand exactly how users have interacted with your ads – regardless of their cross-device customer journey. This data is then leveraged within campaign optimization systems to ensure that Facebook’s machine learning models optimize towards the right consumers, unlocking more highly performant campaigns. Outside of campaign optimization, the attribution data is also made available to you for audience building (e.g. Lookalike “Purchaser” Audiences) and reporting to give you a deep understanding of campaign performance.
To ensure that Facebook has a high probability of matching your events to the proper consumers within the platform, events sent to CAPI should include as many first-party customer identifiers as possible. This includes fields like first name, last name, email address, phone number, and more – the full list of customer identifiers and event parameters can be found in the image below or on the CAPI docs page.
First-party identifiers help drive up the match potential – otherwise known as the “EMQ” or “Event Match Quality”, a 0-10 score located in the Facebook Events Manager that helps you understand just how well Facebook is matching ads to your potential customers. While the idea of sending first-party user identifiers may sound scary, almost all of these fields are required to be hashed (the process of irreversibly mapping these identifiers to a representative integer) before being shared from your systems. In addition to this hashing, the hashed data is only leveraged to match events to a given user, and it cannot be pulled back out of the platform at any time.
Getting Started with CAPI
While you can ask your data or engineering teams to write custom scripts to send conversion events out to CAPI, Data Activation platforms like Hightouch are an amazing alternative that can save your team valuable time & resources. Hightouch works by leveraging a technology called Reverse ETL to send data directly from your data warehouse to various business applications - in this case, Facebook CAPI. Leveraging Hightouch’s Facebook CAPI integration, your team is able to quickly stand up your integration then get back to focusing on what matters most, instead of building and maintaining integration pipelines.
In a privacy-centric world, conversion loss is a primary concern for any digital marketer. Thanks to Hightouch, our paid media teams have been able to easily leverage first-party data signals directly from our warehouse to enrich our conversion events, maximizing our match rates & improving performance in platform.
Sr. Associate of Paid Media
In addition to sending enriched conversion events, Hightouch also offers a no-code audience builder that syncs audiences to various destinations like Facebook. These audiences can then be leveraged for retargeting, suppression, and lookalike audience campaigns. Managing both audiences and conversions in one central platform eliminates the need for your data teams to build and manage duplicate scripts and pipelines while ensuring your marketing team can operate as efficiently as possible.
The best part is getting started with Hightouch is easy. After following these five steps, your team will have everything they need to start sending enriched conversions and accurate audiences to Facebook:
- Create a Hightouch Workspace: If you don't already have a workspace, you can create one for free
- Add a Source: Hightouch reads data directly from your business’s existing data warehouse. It will however, only need read access to the relevant tables where your event & user data resides.
- Add a CAPI Destination: Hightouch needs access to the conversions API of which you’d like to send the events. Once an access token has been inputted, Hightouch can begin sending events to your Facebook account.
- Create a Sync: Through Hightouch’s no-code UI, marketers are able to map the various event or user fields to the ones expected by each destination. Once mapped, a recurring sync schedule can be set and the integration can be pushed live.
Boxy Charm - Facebook Case Study: Boxy Charm, an American beauty subscription box provider, increased its four-month retention rate by 23% after implementing the Facebook Conversions API to appeal to new subscribers who were most likely to become loyal customers, and predicted even higher increases after 12 months.
Lucid - Hightouch Case Study: Before adopting Hightouch for Data Activation, sending data to various ad platforms was a nightmare for Lucid. A single integration could take upward of 12–16 hours of engineering time to build, not even accounting for the maintenance involved to keep it up and running; and with no built-in alerting, it was nearly impossible to know when, where, or why specific failures occurred. Since pipeline breakages could have a huge impact on Lucid’s ad spending efficacy, manual CSV files were adopted instead. Now, instead of taking 12–16 hours to launch and test a custom API job, a single integration can be set up in five minutes with Hightouch and the most complex data models can be set up in two to three hours, saving an average of 12.5 hours.
Facebook remains one of the most technologically advanced advertising platforms in the world. Their machine learning, attribution, and audience technologies are in place to ensure that advertisers everywhere are able to target their desired consumers while achieving maximum ROI. Providing Facebook with the best possible conversion signals enables their technology to operate at full strength - and leveraging CAPI is currently the best way to do so.