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Facebook Ad Manager [PART 2]

What everybody ought to know about Facebook Ad Manager [PART 2]

This is the second of four articles that looks at the Facebook Ad manager tools and how they can be used to improve your paid (and in some cases non-paid) activity on Facebook.

This post will focus on conversion pixels.

What is a conversion pixel?

In the last post I talked about Website Custom Audiences (WCA) which use a pixel to gather information about visitors from across your website. WCA uses a snippet of code that is installed across all pages on your site (or all pages you want to track), much like Google Analytics.

A conversion pixel, on the other hand, is installed on just one page that represents a conversion. This could be a confirmation page on a form submission or newsletter sign up, or on the confirmation page for a ticket purchase.

Once the user lands on that page, the pixel is ‘fired’ and the conversion is tracked.

How to create a Conversion Pixel

Conversion pixels are created in the Ad Manager.

In the Ad Manager select Tools and then Conversion Tracking. All your existing pixels will be listed along with their current status. To create a new one, hit the Create Pixel button in the top right corner.

Give your pixel a name and assign it a category.

Once it’s been created you’ll be provided with the code along with instructions on how to install it on your site.

For full instructions on creating traxel pixels, check out the Facebook for Business website [].

Putting it into action

Unlike WCA, the conversion pixel requires a bit more planning and strategy as you have to decide where you want to use it before implementing it.

You can create as many pixels as you want, but you can only assign one per ad set when setting up a campaign. Even if you’re not using pixels in ads, however, you can still collect data against them, so it’s worth setting one up for every conversion you want to track. I’ll explain why shortly…

The conventional use for a tracking pixel is to assign it to an ad set as part of a campaign where the objective is website conversions. So if, for example, you’re running a campaign to drive ticket sales, you would use a pixel on your checkout page as set this as the main objective. Facebook would then optimise your campaign and charge based on conversions. You can still use demographic and interest targeting as you would normally. The benefit of using conversions in this way is that you pay for actual sales, rather than wesbie clicks that won’t necessarily convert.

As I mentioned above, you don’t need to have a conversion pixel attached to a campaign to collect data against it. So if you have a conversion pixel on your checkout page, you can gather information about your website visitors who are purchasing with you, even if they’re not purchasing as a result of a campaign. This is useful data which you can use in a number of ways. One way I’d recommend using this is to build a lookalike audience. These are people who are have a similar profile to your actual ticket buyers, but who aren’t… yet. You can this audience in a campaign, with exclusions for your existing fans, to then generate new customer sales by matching this audience with interest types relevant to the event or product you are promoting.

How else could you use this? You could create a conversion pixel and put this on your membership page to build a member profile type. Again, creating a lookalike audience will produce a profiled group of people for you similar to those who are already interested in (or already signed up to) your membership scheme. If you’re marketing a premium product or targeting potential donors, you can use Facebook’s demographic tools to target people based on income threshold.

In summary, conversion pixels require a little more planning to implement than WCAs, but are a great way to create conversion based adverts, as well as building lookalike audiences based on people that do convert, so that you can target other Facebook users who are more likely to convert.

What everybody ought to know about Facebook Ad Manager [part 1]

When I started writing this article I was going to cover four different tools within Facebook’s Ad Manager that can enhance your Facebook activity, but after I passed the 500 word mark just talking about Website Custom Audiences, I thought I’d better split the post up into a four-part series.

The series will discuss some of the Facebook tools that I use most frequently. They are all based around the Ad Manager, but you don’t have to necessarily be creating ads to find them useful.

This is post 1 of 4 and will look at Website Custom Audiences

Website Custom Audiences

Website Custom Audiences (or WCA) allows you to track visitors to your website using Facebook and then create audiences based on these visits. This then allows you to target audiences based on what pages they’ve visited on your website, also known as retargeting.

It sounds a bit creepy at first, but this is commonplace across the whole web. You’ve probably noticed when you visit a website you then start to see ads from that page on other pages you visit. It’s the same idea with Website Custom Audiences on Facebook.

It’s worth noting at this point that Facebook won’t let you drill down to an individual level, so you can never find out information about a particular individual from WCA tracking. You’ll only ever get group statistical information back, i.e. number of users, demographic profile, etc.

Facebook provide detailed documentation on how to set up WCA along with specific instructions on how to install the Custom Audience pixel. In order to get started with WCA you will need to install a bit of code on your page. It’s up to you whether you do this for your whole site, or page by page, but I’d recommend getting it installed in your master page template so that it appears on all pages. Your web developer should be able to help you with this.

Once you’ve got the technical bit out-of-the-way, the fun bit begins!

How to Create an Audience

Once your code is installed you can start to create your audience using the Audience Manager which can be found in the Ad Manager section of Facebook.

Click Create Audience in the top right corner of the screen and select Custom Audience. Then choose Website Traffic from the light box screen that appears.

When it comes to creating your audience, you have a number of options available to you.

These are:

  • Anyone who visits your website (or websites)
  • People who visit specific web pages
  • People visiting specific web pages but not others
  • People who haven’t visited in a certain amount of time

Choose the option you want, and then add the appropriate URL keywords to generate your audience. You can create audiences for traffic going up to 180 days (approximately 6 months) back, which gives you lots of flexibility in targeting around seasons, offers, and campaigns.

Putting It Into Action

Hopefully you’re starting to get exciting about what Website Custom Audiences can do for you. Here are a few ideas to help you along.

Segment your audience based on interest

The great thing about knowing who has visited a page on your website is that you already know something about your audience; you know what they’re interested in. So why not use this? I pinched and adapted this idea from Digital Marketer.

Create a spreadsheet with a list of all your current shows. Against each show give it a category, i.e. Dance, Theatre, Music etc. Record the URL of each event in the column next to it (you can just record the page path, so if your whole URL is “” you can just use “/event/the-big-show/”).

Now you create your audience (as described above). We’ll use Dance as the example. Refer back to your spreadsheet and copy all the URLs against shows marked Dance and paste these into the “URL contains” box. Depending on how your site generates URLs you could also add the URL keyword “dance”. This would then pick up any pages, such as news stories, that have the word dance in the URL, so you’re automatically pulling in these people without having to do any extra work!

You now have a segmented audience ready to go! You can use this knowledge to target a show that isn’t selling very well, or if you are launching a new season you could set up a multi product ad to list your upcoming dance shows and target this audience at the start of the season.

Season Launch

This audience makes use of the “people who haven’t visited in a certain amount of time” option. Facebook tracking allows you to track back roughly six months (180 days). At the start of the season you can run a campaign to target people who have visited your site within this timeframe, but haven’t been back since the new season launched, so might not be aware of the shows you’ve got on offer. Again, a mutli-product ad, this time showcasing your season highlights, would be a good option to use here.

Incomplete sales

By placing the tracking pixel on your ticketing site as well as your homepage, you can track customers’ progress through their purchase and check whether they are reaching the check-out stage.

This provides you with two options:

  • target people who have visited a show page but not purchased
  • target people who have entered the sales funnel but not completed

By targeting at show level you can create custom messaging for the specific shows that you want to re-target to people who haven’t entered the sales funnel. This could include low ticket stock alerts, reviews, video content, or other mechanisms to entice a sale. You could also cross sell other similar shows, or upsell both into an exclusive package deal.

Targeting people who have entered the sales funnel but not completed a sale may be trickier to do on a show by show basis depending on your service provider and the amount of resource you have available (plotting the pathway for each stage in purchase pathway using a specific URL related to the show may be quite a cumbersome task) but there are still re-targeting opportunities.

Some simple messaging that plays up scarcity (“you didn’t finish booking your tickets – come back before they’re all gone”), or suggesting that something prevented them from purchasing (“didn’t have your card to hand?”) could be effective here, playing on the assumption that something prevented the user from completing the sale, rather than that they didn’t want to tickets.

Lookalike audience

This last one is a bit of a cheat, as the end result isn’t actually a WCA, but it uses one to get the results. The lookalike feature allows you to create an audience based on an existing audience, a conversion tracking pixel (which I’ll cover in my next post), or a page.

Combining the lookalike feature with the segment audiences we created earlier, we can create new audiences to target who, based on shared interests with their source, may be interested in your offer.

When creating the audience, you can specify whether you want a closer match for a more targeted audience, or a broader match for a larger audience. At this stage you can only select by country, however when creating your ad you can reduce this to a specific town or city. The range of your audience will probably depend on your offer; you can probably afford to target a wider audience with a rock show than an experimental neo-classical composition, for example.

To ensure that you are reaching a new audience you can also use your ‘anyone who has visited your website’ audience and your page fans as exclusions so that the people being reached are brand new to you (at least on Facebook). These audiences provide great opportunity to build your fan base and would be ideal candidates for an Offer campaign that gives them a small discount on their first purchase for a limited time(more on offers available here).

Your turn

These are just a few ideas about how you can use WCA to re-target on Facebook. Now it’s over to you. If you’re new to WCA then try setting up your first audience and do a re-targeting campaign. If you’ve got experience in using WCA then what has worked for you (and what hasn’t)?

Does social media provide venues with a platform for selling tickets?

With the growing popularity of social media and the buzz (and buzz words) surrounding it, I wanted to take a look at the use of social media as a selling platform.


I’m mainly going to be talking about Facebook and Twitter here, which are the big hitters. Although Instagram now boasts more users than Twitter [], it arguably doesn’t have the same level of funcationality, which is why I won’t be discuss it in detail. What Instagram does provide, however, is a useful insight into the way in which people use social media, as it is (primarily) a mobile only platform.


As the popularity of mobile devices increases (it’s predicted that by next year one quarter of the world’s population will be using them) the significance of mobile cannot be ignored. It was estimated that, in the final quarter of 2014, of Facebook’s monthly active users, around 38% accessed it only via a mobile device, a figure that has consistently grown quarter to quarter []. And that figure is mobile only, not total mobile users. For Twitter this figure is even higher, with 80% of users accessing it via a mobile, and 70% of these people saying mobile is the primary platform for accessing it [].

 So what’s currently available for selling tickets via Facebook and Twitter?

So what’s currently available for selling tickets via Facebook and Twitter? Having had a poke around, there are some platforms for selling products online via Facebook. What this fundamentally appears to be is the purchase pathway iframed into an app, which can be hosted on a Facebook Page.


An app that integrates with a page does provide some benefit to retailers, especially, for example, small businesses that may not have the scope to maintain (or afford) a stand alone ecommerce site; Facebook can provide them with both a site and a platform for sales. While this may be the case, I strongly suspect that venues and ticket outlets would not opt for this route and would have their own website. Some time ago, when Facebook allowed page admins to customise where users landed, this would also have been of benefit. However those times are long gone.


Granted, the use of an app does provide an additional online platform of booking tickets other than the main website. As long as the system integrates with the primary selling platform and doesn’t require management of a separate stock, there’s no major disadvantage to having an app for selling on a Facebook page. However, app access isn’t high up on the list of functions on Pages, and constant redesign of the Facebook Page are making apps harder for users to access.


You could direct customers to the app via posts, although why waste time trying to get customers to engage in an app on your page when you can direct them to your site instead. In order to do this, you’d need to post a link to your Page as a post from your Page. Having tried this, even if you try to post a link to an app on your page, the actual link takes the user through the Page’s default landing page, and doesn’t deep link to the app itself. And even if it did, as the content is iframed, the landing page would be the front page of the app, which will likely be a general event or product listing. Which means the customer would then have to look up the event.


Or, you could post a link to an event, which utilised the Facebook styling and optimisation tools (CTA buttons, image pane, headline and description as well as post text etc) to generate a more engaging newsfeed story that, in a single click or tap, takes the customer directly to the content on your website that they are interested in with the option then and there to buy.


For me, at least, the choice here is fairly obvious.


A final, but given the stats provided above, fairly crucial point to make about Facebook Page apps is their accessibility; they can only be accessed via the desktop website and are not available via the Facebook mobile app or mobile website. With the growth in mobile popularity, this puts a significant barrier in the way of using Facebook apps as an e commerce tool.


At the F8 conference this year, Facebook did hint at some integration with ticketing services [], although these services were more geared towards the addition of a share button that utilises the messenger tool, rather than  providing an opportunity to purchase via Facebook.


Twitter, it seems, are a little more ahead of the game here. In September last year, Twitter announced that they would be rolling out the beta version of the a button that could be used on their tweet cards []. This button allows users to buy products directly from the Twitter feed with a single click (once they have set up an account). There’s great potential here, particularly for things like general admission or best available ticket purchase, allowing for a quick sale to be processed, capturing rich, quality data in just a few clicks or taps. I’m much more excited about the potential of this than I am about Facebook apps; however, Twitter first posted about this in over six months ago and there hasn’t been any news since. So there’s no telling yet how long we might have to wait before this feature is rolled out to all users.

 Twitter are making the right noises; their “Buy” button definitely has potential

So does social media provide a platform to sell tickets? Facebook does currently provide a means of allowing venues and ticket outlets to sell via their page; although I’d argue that this is not optimised functionality, but rather a reworking or repurposing of existing functionality. As discussed, this functionality is limited, not being accessible via mobile, for example. Twitter are making the right noises; their “Buy” button definitely has potential, however we’re in the dark at the moment as to if and when this will be rolled out for general usage. Will Facebook follow with something similar, a more integrated and functional purchase option? It’s hard to say. With Facebook generating much of its revenue through advertising, the question is does it need additional services, such as an e commerce platform, to support its product? Facebook has a pretty firm steer on how business use it, with changes to its algorithm and functionally frequently upsetting businesses and marketers, backing them into a corner where they need to start paying to get the same benefit from the service they have come to depend on. This is not to say that they don’t add features that benefit their business users, however until such a time as demand and competition has increased, I don’t think this will be a critical development.


What do you think? Are you a box office or marketing manager? Do you sell tickets through social media and if so, has it been popular with your customers?