I’ve seen several rumors that the Facebook Pixel will be going away in 2022. People are claiming that this could be the end of Facebook ads as we know it, and the platform itself will be useless to a majority of advertisers that rely on it to promote their brands and businesses. However as far as I can tell these are just rumors, and even if they are true there is already a replacement for the Facebook Pixel that you can start using today.
Maybe there is some official article about the Facebook Pixel going away by Meta itself, but I haven’t seen it. For the sake of this article we’re going to assume all the rumors are true because the trend of the internet has generally been to reduce tracking to increase user privacy. Someday the Facebook Pixel probably will either go away or be completely transformed, and thats okay.
We’re going to cover the replacement for the Facebook Pixel but first lets talk about how the Pixel even works and why it may be going away.
The Facebook Pixel, or Meta Pixel, uses a browser technology that has existed for a long time: something called cookies. When you visit a website the site can download small files called cookies to your browser to improve your site experience. This might be your preferences for dark mode / light mode, how long to keep you logged into the site, and other quality of life improvements we all take for granted nowadays.
Ad blockers have existed for years, and one thing they do is block 3rd party cookies from tracking you across the web and delivering personalized ads. Ads still may show but they’ll be more anonymous.
Google has officially announced their desire to remove all 3rd party tracking cookies from Google Chrome, and since Chrome is one of the worlds most popular browsers this would essentially kill the Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics tracking.
On top of that Safari already kind of blocks most 3rd party tracking tools today. This is why inside of Facebook Events Manager you can’t use Safari if you want to Test Events. Even FireFox often doesn’t allow this tool to work. Now this doesn’t mean they block all 3rd party cookies, but the trend overall has been to reduce the amount of 3rd party cookies across the internet.
On top of all that back in 2016 the EU released their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which required websites to collect consent prior to tracking people with 3rd party cookies. This is why nowadays every website has an annoying popup at the bottom or top asking you if you consent to cookie usage. California has its own variation of this law.
Facebook already has a solution to this problem, and it’s existed for years. Its actually something advertisers use to get more data from their page visitors. Its called the Conversion API (CAPI). Learn more about it here.
Cookies work by communicating through the browser, but CAPI works by communicating through your website’s server. Basically the server that hosts your actual website is communicating user data directly to Facebook instead of the users browser.
If someone goes to your website from a Facebook ad, Facebook will notify your site which campaign the user came from, and your site will send Facebook all the data from that person’s website activity. This could include their email address, name, phone number, address etc if they gave it to you. But it can just be as simple as which buttons they clicked or which pages they visited.
This functionality exists on Shopify, ThriveCart, Hypeddit and many more platforms we all already use.
On top of Facebook’s CAPI, both Facebook and Google have various machine learning algorithms that can perform statistical modeling based on historical data to estimate user activity. I’m not even going to pretend to understand the nuances of how this works. But basically even though they’re partially blinded by tracking limitations today, they can use the data they do have to come up with pretty accurate estimations of the data they can’t see.
Customer data and marketing is big business, and you can bet that Facebook and Google are going to come out with new methods of tracking users. Especially when they’re the ones creating the internet of the future.
On top of this all these 3rd party services we use to host our websites will adapt as well. I’d expect to see more direct, server-level integrations with Facebook and usage of CAPI.
Lastly, ads that are retargeting users on-platform won’t change at all. This only impacts tracking on your own websites. So expect an increase in the usage of video view campaigns, engagement campaigns etc, and retargeting users who interact with your content instead of how they interact with your website. But with CAPI and other tools I don’t think website level tracking and retargeting will be going away any time soon.