iPhone X with Facebook app open and laptop nearby

Facebook Protects Future of their Ad Products with Pixel Update

On Friday October 5th, Facebook, Inc. announced that first-party cookies will now be available as part of their pixel. Traditionally, the Facebook pixel was powered by third party cookies, but due to the shift in the industry toward preferring (or in some cases limiting) cookie collection to first party only, they are now making this functionality available. This will now protect the future of retargeting across the Facebook Family of Apps and Services (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook Audience Network) ensuring the shift toward first party cookies continues. These important audiences remain intact as the industry continues to favor first party over third party cookies, and continues to grow through this stronger signal. It will enhance everything from reporting and attribution to conversion optimization, as well as custom audiences and dynamic ads offerings.

On October 24th,  all advertisers who have the Facebook pixel installed on their website will automatically be opted-in to this update, unless they have actively opted out, which can easily be done in the Events Manager tab within Facebook Business Manager.

Here at iProspect, we recommend that all advertisers partner with their iProspect and Facebook teams to opt-in as soon as possible. This update will improve the size of retargeting pools that power some of the most effective tactics and audiences deployed across the Facebook Family of Apps and Services. We’re happy to see Facebook’s proactive approach in protecting their advertising products that impact our own clients’ business objectives. 

What are pixels and why are they important?

When added to an advertiser’s website, the Facebook pixel is used to measure site analytics and conversation data. It can also build retargeting pools or an audience of consumers who have been to the advertiser’s website. It allows advertisers to target their paid campaigns to those who have expressed interest and/or intent by previously visiting their website, or if desired, even taken specific actions on the website. (This is very similar to retargeting or remarketing via other channels such as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads via Google, or remarketing audiences via various programmatic DSP partners.)

Historically, iProspect has seen that these audiences are the most effective at driving business outcomes, becoming an important part of many clients’ strategies – for social and beyond. Many partners, including Facebook, allow for lookalike modeling off of these audiences, allowing advertisers to exclude those who have been to their website and target those who look similar to those individuals, driving new customer acquisition at scale. It also aids in measurement of site activity.

What exactly is changing?

Currently, the Facebook pixel is powered by third party cookies. This change will now have the   pixel using a combination of first party and third party cookies to provide higher fidelity signals. Currently, cookies are stored under the domain of the business, who has written the cookie. On some browsers, cookies will be blocked unless a cookie is using a sub-domain of the site’s primary domain. For example, when a user clicks on an ad or organic post on a Facebook platform, the landing page URL will contain a unique string. If a user lands on any pixels on the site, they are opted into sharing first party cookie data with Facebook and the URL parameter is written into the user's browser as a first party cookie. The advertisers’ opted in pixel(s) then includes that first party cookie with all its events and sends it to Facebook.

The data that is collected and the way it is deployed via targeting is exactly the same. The difference is how the user’s engine or browser to enter the advertiser’s site will recognize the cookie. It will now be attributed to that advertiser if the user navigates to the advertiser’s site from Facebook (and thus first party).

Consumers will still have control over ads on Facebook in Ads Preferences. Facebook’s Business Tools Terms will also still require advertisers to clearly disclose how they use cookies and share data collected on their sites with third parties. We recommend businesses review their cookie-related disclosures.

What do I need to consider as an advertiser?

  • If you currently do not have the pixel and are unable to install it, there is no change.

  • If you currently have the pixel in place, and there are no restrictions to using first party cookies on your site, you’re all set! Simply reach out to your iProspect team to ensure you’re opted in as soon as possible in order to take full advantage of the benefits.

  • If there are restrictions or specific needs in regards to disclosure policy and communication around cookie collection on your site, you should review those policies to ensure any mention of first or third party is included.

  • If it is deemed that first party cookies are not allowed to be part of the functionality for the pixel on your site – you can simply opt out and the pixel will operate as usual.

If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to your iProspect social team.