What is Facebook's Conversion API (CAPI)?

By Tara Johnson

As advertisers continue to respond to Apple’s iOS privacy updates, Facebook is also making changes to its advertising toolkit. One of those changes is the new Conversions API (CAPI). 

Here’s what advertisers need to know about CAPI, including how it works and how you can make the most of it in an increasingly privacy-forward landscape.

What is Facebook CAPI?

Conversions API is a Facebook Business Tool that lets advertisers share customer actions from their servers directly to Facebook. CAPI works alongside the Facebook Pixel to help advertisers improve the performance, measurement, and data collection of their Facebook ad campaigns. 

CAPI capabilities and measurement

Facebook explains that advertisers can use the Conversions API to:

CAPI moves conversion tracking from the client-side to the server-side.

In other words, CAPI lets you send the data you capture from your tools and platforms to Facebook Ads Manager. When you use the Facebook Pixel, Facebook collects the event and conversion data. With CAPI, you collect your own data, such as customer IDs or purchase events, then share that data with Facebook.

This server-side tracking is a more accurate way to track actions and attribute them to Facebook campaigns. In situations where the Facebook Pixel might be blocked by privacy controls, CAPI can still track conversions.

“Marketing companies that rely on third-party pixels nowadays are going to need to spark up conversations with the partners they work with about how those marketing publishers plan on or suggest to attack this. Brands without tagging and dev resources will be in bad shape if they don’t plan server-side tracking accordingly.”

– Andrew Richardson, Vice President of Analytics and Marketing Science at Tinuitiandrew richardson

How will CAPI impact advertisers?

Last year, Apple released a new version of their Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) for Safari. In response to ITP (and other recent privacy policy changes including IDFA and CCPA), the ability to understand audiences is more important than ever before and the value of first-party data is magnified. (Learn more about how ITP affects advertisers.)

As the industry moves to further protect users’ privacy, advertisers can no longer rely on third-party data, cookies, and pixels to measure campaign performance. CAPI will help advertisers push event and conversion data to Facebook Ads Manager while maintaining user privacy.

Facebook explains:

“Conversions API supports advertisers’ efforts to provide consumers with appropriate data transparency and control while also helping them to continue providing personal experiences. Conversions API allows advertisers to share data directly from their server, rather than through a browser. The tool is also designed to honor Facebook’s user privacy controls; for example, if a customer uses the Off-Facebook Activity privacy tool, their choices will extend to data sent via Conversion API.”

To make the most of CAPI, we recommend using it alongside the Facebook Pixel. While privacy updates may make the pixel less reliable, it can still be an effective tool when customers do not have cookies blocked on their browsers.

The Conversions API doesn’t use cookies, so web browser settings don’t impact your ability to send data in the same way. Used together, the pixel and CAPI can maximize your campaign performance tracking and data collection.

To get started with the Conversions API, Facebook recommends working with a developer for full control over setup and the ability to send events and parameters that the Facebook pixel can’t capture in the browser.

All in all, as privacy laws and industry updates crack down on how businesses can acquire and use customer data, Facebook’s CAPI solution offers advertisers more control over the data they choose to share with Facebook. CAPI allows you to send events and data directly to the Facebook Ads platform without relying on browser-based pixel tracking.

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