social media how toDo you know how to measure your return on investment (ROI) on Facebook ads?

Do you know how to tell if your Facebook ad is accomplishing your objective?

In this article, I’ll cover what Facebook conversion tracking and offsite pixels are, why they matter and how to start tracking the conversions of your Facebook ads today.

Facebook Ad ROI?

You’ve probably heard the refrain that you can’t measure ROI on Facebook.

Let me be clear—measuring the ROI of all of your Facebook efforts is dangerous. You are performing more than just a sales role—one of customer service as well.

And you absolutely can measure the ROI of your Facebook advertising efforts, particularly when you’re looking to drive an action that can be assigned a value. This is done with conversion tracking and offsite pixels.

Return on investment is when you consider profits in relation to capital invested. Image: iStockPhoto

What Is Conversion Tracking?

Facebook allows you to track the conversions that happened as a result of your Facebook ad.

This is a big deal because without it, you’re left guessing.

When you ran your ad, your conversions went up 20%. But how many of those conversions were as a result of your ads? Could they have been driven by something else?

With conversion tracking, Facebook knows that they went to your site from your Facebook ad. And with the help of an offsite pixel, they know that the user then performed your desired action.

What Is an Offsite Pixel?

An offsite pixel is a snippet of code provided by Facebook that you place within the < HEAD > tags of a specific page of your site to alert Facebook that a conversion is complete.

For example, let’s say that you’re running an ad to drive the purchase of Widget 2.0. Facebook knows that a person clicked your ad. And they are able to follow that person away from Facebook as a result of you adding that snippet of code.

You would add that offsite pixel to a success page. So once a user purchases Widget 2.0, they will be directed to a success page that holds your offsite pixel. Facebook then knows that your ad resulted in a successful conversion.

Conversion Types and Optimized CPM

One of the amazing things about conversion tracking is that Facebook utilizes Optimized CPM (oCPM) to determine who sees your ads.

oCPM allows advertisers to prioritize their marketing goals, and then automatically delivers ads against those goals in the most effective way possible. This allows advertisers to maximize the value they get from their budgets.

Your ad is optimized to be surfaced to the people most likely to perform your desired action.

When you set up your offsite pixel, you can optimize for the following conversion types:

  • Checkouts
  • Registrations
  • Leads
  • Key page views
  • Adds to cart
  • Other website conversions

Facebook learns which users perform these desired actions through advertisers using conversion tracking. This intelligence helps Facebook target your ad at people most likely to convert.

offsite pixel conversion

When you create an offsite pixel, optimize for a specific type of conversion.

Now that you understand conversion tracking, let’s cover how you can start doing it today!

#1: Create an Offsite Pixel

First, you need to use Power Editor. I know it’s clunky, but if you’re serious about Facebook marketing, it’s a must-use tool.

In the top-left menu, click Conversion Tracking.

conversion tracking

Click Conversion Tracking within left menu in Power Editor.

If you’ve never used Conversion Tracking before, Facebook provides a nice little explanation for you.

conversion tracking explanation

Facebook’s explanation of Conversion Tracking within Power Editor.

Now click the green Create Conversion Pixel button at the top right.

create conversion pixel

Click Create Conversion Pixel at the top right of Power Editor.

Now name your pixel and choose a conversion category. This is the action that Facebook will optimize for.

name pixel and categorize

Name your pixel and categorize your desired conversion.

#2: Snag the Code

Now you’ll be given a box with some code. This is the offsite pixel!

offsite pixel example

An example of an offsite pixel.

Copy this code and proceed to #3.

#3: Paste the Code

Here is where the instructions can’t be quite as specific. You’ll need to paste this code between the < HEAD > tags of a specific page on your website. But how and where you do that will depend on a couple of things.

How you do this will be determined by your content management system (CMS). Within WordPress, you should have a text box for Custom Tracking/Conversion Code when editing your page or post.

success page

Paste your offsite pixel into this box when editing your success page in WordPress.

The page that you add this code to will depend on your desired action. Here are some examples of where you would add your offsite pixel:

  • Checkouts: The page indicating a completed checkout
  • Registrations: The page indicating a completed registration
  • Leads: The page following submitting a contact form
  • Key page views: The key page itself
  • Adds to cart: The page following Add to Cart
  • Other website conversions: The page following a specific conversion

#4: Verify the Pixel

Within your list of conversion pixels in Power Editor, your new pixel will either be listed as Active, Unverified or Inactive.

  • Active: In the past 24 hours, people have viewed the pages that contain the pixel on your website.
  • Unverified: Your pixel may not be installed or properly configured because there have been no reports of people viewing it on your website.
  • Inactive: In the past 24 hours, people have not viewed the pages that contain the pixel on your website.
    active unverified inactive

    Your offsite pixel will be listed as Active, Unverified or Inactive.

Make sure you refresh the page of your website after you add the pixel to it. That will send a signal to Facebook that it is active.

If the status continues to be Unverified, go back and check your steps!

#5: Create Your Ad

When you create an ad within Power Editor to drive conversions for this pixel, you will now need to apply your offsite pixel.

Within the Creative & Placements tab, click the Conversion Tracking checkbox and select your pixel.

select conversion tracking

Within Power Editor when creating your ad, click Conversion Tracking and select your offsite pixel.

#6: Monitor Your Conversions

Now when you go into the Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll be given the following stats:

  • Conversions: The number of times your conversion pixels fired
  • Conversion Value: The value that your ad returned to you based on the conversion details you set up (if available)
  • Cost Per Conversion: The average you paid for each conversion

Assuming you know the value of each conversion, you can now determine ROI of your ad campaign!

cost per conversion

What’s the ROI of your Facebook ad? Monitor your cost per conversion!


Conversion tracking is something all savvy Facebook marketers need to be aware of and implement. According to Facebook, optimizing ads for conversions has reduced cost per conversion by 40%. What results are you seeing?

What do you think? Have you tried measuring your Facebook ads? What results did you have? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.
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  • Thanks Jon, very useful post and the step-by-step is great!

    Have a great day everyone!


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  • Awesome Post! Not enough marketers are aware of offsite pixels for measuring conversions. Very clear and thorough post. Thanks!

  • Thanks for this post. It’s good to know that you can measure the ROI of your Facebook advertising efforts.

  • Love this step-by-step for creating an offsite pixel. The Power Editor can be a beast sometimes, and so knowing exactly where to go and what the options are for measuring ROI is great. Thanks for this, Jon!

  • It is absolutely a beast! But you’re right. Get your arms around it, and it’s a huge advantage over those not using it!

  • You bet, Patrick!

  • You’re right, Ben! And thanks for the kind words.

  • Thanks!

  • Eric Leszkowicz

    This post served as a great reminder to get moving and get this done. A very nice step by step tutorial.

  • When I entered the world of online advertising, I quickly learned that Google leads and all other platforms follow. This was true with Bing’s Microsoft adCenter and has held true into the social space with Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. While Facebook and LinkedIn advertising offer unmatched demographic targeting options, the advertising platforms are a bit behind the times and the reporting leaves much to be desired.

  • Sweet post. Thanks Much!

  • Karelisa Falkner

    Helpful post – but you don’t necessarily have to use Power Editor (mostly useful for agencies)

  • jack

    Any idea how this would work for an affiliate relationship? I.e. can your ecommerce partner put the pixel on their site and recognize the conversion that you sent them through your ad?

  • StephanieWarthe

    Absolutely fantastic article, very helpful! I’ll definitely be using this as a guide for our upcoming Facebook campaigns… I actually had no idea Facebook had this kind of conversion tracking functionality built in. Thank you!

  • Awesome, Stephanie! Sad thing is that the typical marketer has no idea of most of the ad features available on Facebook. There are tons!

  • The pixel would need to be placed on the success page indicating the conversion. So you need control over that page in order to track it.

  • Thanks, Karelisa. Most features are first rolled out to the ad API and Power Editor, which is why I recommend not using the main ad manager. Some of these features are eventually rolled out there, but often a scaled down version. I’ll take your word for it that the feature is now fully functional within the self-serve ad tool since I only use Power Editor for this reason!

  • Thanks Kim!

  • Erick Fuentes

    Thanks for the post. Very usefull and complete… now i need a programmer lol

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  • I think you can do it without one!

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  • Grant Perry

    It took them much longer than it should have but I was thrilled when FB added this conversion tracking. It’s helped me really scale my advertising. I still find the manual CPC bidding is much more cost effective than letting them optimize by conversion though.

    The only real complaint I have is that it only seems to work with marketplace ads. Even though it gives you the option to track conversions for the likes of promoted posts it doesn’t seem to work, even though I know I know for certain I am getting conversions.

    As you mention, apparently you can add a value to a conversion but I’ve not been able to figure out how to do that.

    Hopefully they also start letting us EXCLUDE converters so we’re not running ads to people who have already taken action. Google offer this (Bing still don’t).

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  • Hey, Grant. Have you tried FBX? Could be more in line of what you’re looking to do.

    You could also get creative to exclude converters if you maintain an active list. Through the use of Custom Audiences, you could make sure to exclude anyone who converted.

  • This is a fantastic step-by-step post! Haven’t messed around with Facebook ads yet, but I’ve bookmarked this for when I do. 🙂

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  • Grant Perry

    Thanks Jon. I have done a little with AdRoll but wasn’t originally impressed due to their lack of self serve interface. That’s much improved but still will remain if cost effective.

    Good point on excluding converters via custom audiences. I am indeed doing that but until that becomes dynamic it’s not very practical or time effective to keep updating it. I love the custom audiences feature though overall. Similar audiences not proving so effective but have been really impressed with all of FB innovations for advertisers this year.

  • Thank Mike for writing about this stuff!! Really nice and useful. Keep up the good work.

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  • Joey Engelen

    Great (useful!) post!

  • kelly quance

    Thanks for this post, a lovely step by step guide to an otherwise complicated procedure.

  • Thanks for sharing such great content! Tracking and measuring is essential.

  • Hi Jon, is there a way to track a pixel even if you’re not using a Facebook ad? For example, I want to track if a status update turned into a successful conversion?

  • Alex Chambers

    This will be a great bonus for direct marketers, yet with drawbacks.

    – This is clear an retargeting based on a pixel (think DoubleClick, Atlas or OASn) with conversion pixel placed on advertisers page. Yet marketers are now giving FB a look at their data.

    Clearly DMs can better manage ROI utilizing this option with FB. If DMs are looking for short term sales only, this is good. However if they are looking for long term value via a one-to-one relationship, Facebook still owns the data, and ultimately the relationship.

  • Pasci

    I have a question.

    If you place the FB conversion pixel on your general ‘Thank you’ page (our conversion page), the page that gets shown once a user fills out a contact form on your website, then the FB pixel conversion pixel gets fired, regardless of whether a user came from a FB ad or access your website directly or even came from a Google ad, am I correct?

    As such the FB conversions are counting all hits to the conversion page not only FB traffic and as such the conversion data in FB ad manager is MUCH higher and absolutely wrong.

    Or am I wrong with the above?

  • StephanieWarthe

    Hi Jon, one question for you! I want to use the conversion tracking feature to track leads (form submissions) on our website. We use a single, generic “thank you” page that we send all leads to after they complete a form. So if I install the tracking pixel on that generic thank you page, will it track ALL views to that page, or JUST the views that came from the Facebook ad? Thanks!

  • Solid content Jon! I always wondered how those tracking pixels work on Facebook, now I know!

  • That’s not very useful for affiliate marketers.

    We can not ask advertisers to put a pixel on every offer we want to promote…. imagine 1000 people asking the same advertiser to add their conversion pixel. That’s just redundant!

    Do they allow callbackURL

  • Conversion Tracking Status is active, Google Tag Manager is showing the tag being fired but I still don’t see any conversions being recorded. HELP!

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  • I enjoyed reading this post. It is always good to learn something new.

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  • Hi Jon, thank you for a great article. The one piece of information I’ve not been able to find on Facebook or a quick perusal on Google is which Category is best to choose for the different types of pages one might design.

    If you’d like to connect on Facebook and let me know as well as answer for your readership below then that will be greatly appreciated. Keep up the great insights.


  • DancinDirk

    How would you use this to track ROI on a FB ad for Mobile app installs?

    Is there a way to flag which users came from specific ads? It tells you how many installs you got but the back end has no idea if those users came from Ad “A”, Ad “B” or organically, which is making calculating ROI Very difficult.

    Any Help is much appreciated!

  • Diana Baciu

    can you tell me if conversion tracking with an offsite pixel works for boosted posts as well? thx Diana

  • tess

    hi there, the “conversions” column is not appearing in my ad manager. My pixel is verified. How do I get the “conversions” column to appear?

  • Hayslan

    Hello Jon!

    My question is.. in an ecommerce , the success page (checkout) is the same for all products . If the customer pays for the product A, he is redirected to a success page X. If the customer pays for the product B , it also redirects to the same page of sucess (page X). The success purchase confirmation page is common to all products in the store (ecommerce – Magento, Opencart, Prestashop.. etc).

    If a visit comes from a specific ad and lands on the product page A (which is the conversion I want to track), but then, just click on another item in the sidebar menus or banners and buy product B. The purchase confirmation success page (which will be pixel) will track the conversion?

    In this case the conversion will be about product B? Not A? And if may even have different prices… This would give me incorrect data and incorrect values ​​for campaign ROI .

    How the pixel works in this case? How to avoid this confusion?

    I’m new to the resource and for this, the doubt. I will be very grateful if you can help me .. Congratulations, the article is show!

  • Harpal

    Is there any better way to track Facebook ads convert other
    than Facebook pixel / Google analytics ?

    I do Facebook advertising. I have Google analytics and Facebook checkout pixel on my website. I currently pay for ads on Facebook and Facebook reports more sales than google analytics. Facebook reporting was off my 4 sales. Is there a better way to track Facebook ads ?

  • Thanks very much Jon. I was hoping someone would set it out simply for me!!!!! Jon I was listening to a couple of marketers talking about “pay per conversion”. I this what we’re talking about here? They kinda of made it sound like you only paid if you got a conversion….I’d really appreciate a response on this one Jon if you could…..
    Kind regards
    Shane Hutton

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  • asalgado

    hey, I’ve just read this and I think it is great…I’m wondering if we could use this for roganic traffic

  • fulanodigital

    You can do this steps:
    1 – let the Facebook Ad point to a landing page.
    2 – aks the lead to give you his email to see an explaining video
    this explaining video is actually the Video Sales Letter of the product you are afiliate.
    3 – after the lead put his email em click the button, you direct him to a blank page
    4 – this blank page has only to goals:
    a) this is where you put the conversion pixel
    b) the page redirects the lead to the VSL page instantly

    Now, you know that your lead has opted-in and has been redirected to the VSL

  • narendra kumar

    if i do affiliate marketing through my blog.Where should i put the tracking pixel to track my fb ad conversions.rly pls.thank u sir

  • Frederik

    Jon, always good read from you fokes at socialmediaexaminer.

    Do you have an updated version of this article, though?
    Since then the facebook pixel has changed, and I’m looking for a guide that can teach me how to implement the code correctly.

    At the moment I inserted the pixel code on one of my pages, and I added the code that’s supposed to track “checkout”, but my facebook pixel helper-plugin to chrome tells me, that only 2/3 of the pixels are working.

    I only need the pixel to track page view, though.

    best regards

  • Frederik

    Oh, and I can’t really tell why it would matter, if I use a code to track “checkout”, “pageview”, etc.
    Aren’t they all just tracking pageview, and then to track checkouts, you’ll just insert the code on the “order received”-page 😉

  • Grace Duffy

    Here is the guide Facebook provides for installing the pixel code into you HTML: and a more recent article from Jon’s blog about the changes to the pixel: