How’s Meta/Facebook’s Latest Attempt at Facebook CAPI?

Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has updated their conversion tracking onboarding wizard to allow for more options to integrate better tracking, in an attempt to help its ad platform fight against Apple’s ad tracking policies. They offer four tracking environment options ranging in technical difficulty and efficacy.  We went through all four of the tracking setup options to evaluate their pros and cons and here are our thoughts.

The 4 Setup Options
(in increasing power but also complexity and cost)

Meta’s new conversion tracking onboarding wizard automatically scans your website and suggests what it perceives as the best CAPI solution (of the four options that it makes available) when you create a new ‘Meta Pixel.’ This new wizard process is attempting to simplify the tracking setup process for beginners. The four different setup options proposed are as follows.

Option 1: Partner Integration

Meta’s partner integrations are first party integration solutions that they’ve built to automatically send tracking data if your website uses a supported web platform. As we touched on in our article, Facebook CAPI Solutions Ranked, we have found these partner integrations to be extremely limited in configurability. Although it is easy to set up and promises to be a “one click solution,” you have no control over the types of tracking data that gets sent to Meta or control of which actions triggers a conversion event. This can be very limiting when wanting to specifically track lead forms, newsletter signups, and other less common conversions like specific button clicks or landing page calls-to-actions. We found these automatic solutions buggy especially the WordPress and Woocommerce plugin based partner integrations which had a lot of plugin incompatibilities and conflicts, resulting in poor ad optimization.

Option 2: On Page Event Setup Tool

Meta’s Event’s setup tool is its evergreen platform agnostic tool that allows you to track conversion events no matter what platform you are using. Unlike the partner solutions, this system does not rely on an integrated installation. Electing this option only requires you to install the standard Meta/Facebook pixel, providing an easy solution to tracking your site when your event isn’t supported by the previous solution. Unfortunately this solution leaves much to be desired because you are limited to only pageview events and button click type tracking events. This is a huge shortfall as one of the most important tracking events is tracking lead events, through form submissions, and there is no way to track if a form was submitted correctly through this system. Additionally you can’t combine the two tracking types above, you can only choose one or another, which would eliminate the ability to track a specific CTA click on a specific landing page URL.

Furthermore, even with the events that are supported through this system, you lose the ability for advanced tracking parameters such as “content_name” which is used to create custom conversions and would help you to further optimize your ad tracking by separating standard event types into specific conversions. We found this tracking option to be extremely time consuming, as each event has to be set up manually multiple times for each URL on your website.

Option 3: GTM Integration

Facebook’s third option is a platform agnostic partner integration that uses powerful tracking features of Google Tag Manager (GTM) which allows you to track different conversion events without having to add script code to each of your events. Unfortunately we found this solution needlessly complicated and cost prohibitive. Firstly, this integration requires a Google Analytics 4, a separate platform’s tracking, to be pre-configured within tag manager. This can be a non-starter as many marketers are still holding out and using Google Universal Analytics 3 (for good reasons) whose tags aren’t supported. Secondly, using this integration requires using a second (additional) GTM container, specifically a nonstandard server type GTM tag container. If you already have a typical web based standard GTM container, there isn’t an easy way to copy your tracking triggers that you’ve already set up, to the server version of GTM. There is no automatic migration from the web based GTM container to the server GTM container, and you’ll have to manage two containers which means whenever you need to update your tracking, it’ll be twice the work.

But the most risky aspect to a business owner is the unpredictable cost… we found this out the hard way… After setting up the GTM Server container and using it with Facebook that the minimum cost per month is over $40 per container and those costs go up depending on your website traffic and tracking usage! This unpredictability with no limit to potential cost can be rather frightening.

Option 4: DNS Based Conversion API Gateway

Speaking of unpredictable cost, let’s examine  the fourth tracking option , the DNS based solution. This four option is a tracking solution that helps mask Meta from Apple by changing Meta’s tracking to run under one of your own subdomains. This seems great at first but there are two requirements that prohibit it from being compatible with some tracking environments. Firstly it requires a DNS access, so you wouldn’t be able to use this on every platform because not every platform allows you DNS control settings like SquareSpace and Wix. Secondly, this install requires an AWS environment, which has high and unpredictable costs (much like option above). You’ll also have to figure out how to set up the cloud infrastructure and maintain it.

We liked having this solution as an option given how powerful and flexible it is, albeit at the cost of unpredictable cost and technically-challenging (and time-consuming) to configure and maintain. But if this is truly an option for you (e.g. if you have DNS access), we suggest you just go with Cloudflare’s Free Zarraz DNS Gateway which we still think remains the most powerful option without the crippling compromises.

How Deviate Tracking Stacks Up

Although Meta has its own native solutions to installing high level tracking, Deviate Tracking often adds more flexibility and power, and streamlines your tracking setup, especially if your tracking environment utilizes Google Tag Manager. Deviate Tracking is more flexible than Meta’s partner integrations, more powerful than Meta’s on page tracking, more cost effective and easier to setup than Facebook’s complicated integration with GTM server, and doesn’t require an amazon AWS server and DNS configuration changes like Meta’s Conversion’s API Gateway.

Deviate Tracking utilizes the power of Google Tag Manager’s free standard web container and  allows you to track very specific user actions, way beyond just a page view or a button click without any hidden costs and unnecessary complexity. Deviate Tracking is geared towards advanced users that want to get the most out of their ad spend. It strikes that delicate balance between having powerful and flexible features while remaining simple to configure and maintain at an affordable (and predictable) cost.

And as a bonus, Deviate Tracking has top-notch support and an actually helpful knowledge base (if any of you have tried getting help from Meta… you’ll know how frustrating and impossible that is). Maximize your ROI, harness the power of GTM all without the extra hassle, and empower your business to focus on your business with Deviate Tracking. Try Deviate Tracking today for seven days to see how easy and effective it can be for your business

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