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November 10, 2021
11 min read

Web-to-app advertising in Facebook using Conversions API

With the release of iOS 14.5, more marketers are trying to find a way to advertise their apps and track campaign effectiveness in real-time.

Web-to-app advertising in Facebook using Conversions API

With the release of iOS 14.5, more marketers are trying to find a way to advertise their apps and track campaign effectiveness in real-time. SKAdNetwork's 3 days delay is just too much for anyone to want to use it. Facebook, as a leader in mobile advertising has a solution, which came from web marketing and became very popular among app developers – Conversions API. We are happy to introduce Conversions API integration in Apphud which can help you to optimize for purchase events in your Facebook web-to-app campaigns and measure data in real-time without SKAdNetwork.

What is web-to-app campaign? It's when your traffic goes to your app's web landing page followed by redirection to the App Store.

What is Facebook Conversions API?

The Facebook Conversions API is another one of Facebook’s APIs for iOS. To better understand what it is, you should first have a better understanding of what the Facebook Pixel is. In short, it is a piece of code. When placed on your website, this tool collects information that helps you optimize ads, track conversions from Facebook advertisements, create targeted audiences for future advertisements, and attract people who have previously interacted with your website.

However, unfortunately, the Pixel’s effectiveness has declined in recent years. Because of all the cookie blockers and ad blockers, the amount of information the Pixel gets has dropped. As if it were not enough, the iOS 14 update created even bigger problems for the Pixel. The update placed tough restrictions on the use of various tracking cookies on Apple mobile devices. This led to the Facebook Pixel getting a lot less information about iOS users.  Do not worry, though; the Facebook Conversion API and iOS 14 can work perfectly fine together, as it doesn’t rely on cookies. 

However, that doesn’t mean that the Pixel is now useless. As a matter of fact, before setting up your Facebook API configurations, you should have your Facebook Pixel set up. FB conversion doesn’t replace the Pixel, and it is better to use these two tools in parallel, so you can have access to both sources of data in your Facebook Business Manager. 

To sum up, Facebook Conversions API (or shortly CAPI), previously known as Server-Side Events – is an API to send web events from your own server to a Facebook pixel. As you know, Apple made significant privacy changes in iOS 14, which limits ad tracking for both apps (via App Tracking Transparency framework) and websites (via ITP). However using Conversions API you can get out of the situation – you can track campaign effectiveness by sending events from your own server. In other words, you can treat a server as a cookie storage – you will need to send to Facebook the same parameters: fbc, fbp, user_agent, IP address, etc. Facebook receives this data and matches with an initial pixel event.

Now that we have discussed the Facebook Conversion API’s benefits, as well as the benefits of using web-to-app advertising, let’s find out more about optimizing purchase events.

Optimize for purchase events

To not target just to app installs, Facebook lets you to target and optimize for specific pixel events, like purchase events. In order to be complaint with iOS 14 changes Facebook made their own protocol – Aggregated Event Measurement, which allows measuring web events from iOS 14 users with some limitations:

First, different Facebook API events are limited to 8 maximum, per domain. Events must be configured and prioritized from highest to lowest, and only one event with the highest priority will be saved per user. Facebook allows to merge several events funnel into a single slot and allows for value optimization, which can make a life bit easier though.

Configured and prioritized eventsConfigured and prioritized events

Second, your domain must be verified. Steps for domain verification are written in Business settings. You may only use one domain for conversion tracking.

And third, custom and non-prioritized events optimization is not currently supported. That means you have to choose from one of those 8 events for campaign optimization, otherwise ads won't be delivered.

Implementing Conversions API for mobile apps advertising without Apphud

The idea is simple. When creating a campaign in Ads Manager choose conversions as a target instead of app installs, so that traffic will go into your website. Again, domain must be verified in Business settings. Your webpage should contain a pixel. Next, when editing Ad set choose iOS devices and optionally iOS version.

Implementing Conversions API for mobile apps advertising without ApphudImplementing Conversions API for mobile apps advertising without Apphud

When Facebook or Instagram users click on an ad, they are being sent to a webpage and then to the App Store. After user installs and launches the app, developer must match a website visitor with the app user. If user makes a purchase or other target action, then your server should send a web event to Facebook, making Facebook think that the purchase was made on the website. The more web purchase events Facebook receives, the more accurately it optimizes.

The hardest part is to send Facebook pixel parameters to your server and match them with app user. Correct user matching is the key to accurate attribution.

Event Match Quality

As being said before, the more parameters you send to Facebook, the more accurate attribution will be. Facebook has a number of parameters, each of which has its own weight. The total score varies from 1 to 10.

For example, email has the greatest weight of 2.2 points. Unfortunately, its not so easy to get user's email address when advertising mobile apps so this parameter is very rare. There are some apps, however, which request email addresses during complex web interfaces, like fitness apps.

The next parameter with high weight is IP address. In most cases user's IP address is the same if user downloads and launches the app within an hour.

Parameters Parameters 

Facebook recommends total score to be at least 6.0 points. It can also affect cost per action and increase in-app conversions, so always try to send as many Facebook conversion API parameters as you can.

Event Match QualityEvent Match Quality

Facebook Conversions API implementation in Apphud

Using Apphud you can set up Facebook Conversions API for your app's advertising in a few minutes. All you need is verified domain and a landing page with installed pixel. After you configure  and prioritize your events in Events Manager you can go to Apphud and create integration as per our documentation:

Creating integration with FacebookCreating integration with Facebook

After creating an integration a text area with a JS code will show up, which needs to be added at the bottom of webpage. This JS code helps to match website visitors with app users.

Apphud will send subscription events for matched users to Facebook as web events.

That's it!

Retrieving campaign details

Apphud can also retrieve attribution and show it in our charts. In order to do this you will need to add the following URL parameters to advertised link:

  • ad_name={{ad.name}}
  • adset_name={{adset.name}}
  • campaign_name={{campaign.name}}
  • network=facebook
Adding URL parameters to advertised linkAdding URL parameters to advertised link

All charts are shown in real time and will show numbers across ad campaigns.

More information is available in our documentation. Start your web-to-app campaigns in Facebook with optimization for purchase events using Conversions API and measure results in Apphud. Have a good day!

Co-founder at Apphud
Ex iOS app and game developer. 11 years in the industry since iOS 3. More than 50 apps are in the background with 4 exits. Entrepreneur and traveler.

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