Just when the marketers had set up a perfect system for tracking the performance of their ads, with pixel solutions mainly, the things have changed. The shift towards more privacy-centered policies have marked the beginning of the cookieless era, something that marketers now have to reckon with in order to maintain positive performance trends.
Fortunately, there are already well-established and highly functional solutions to bypass these issues, to establish server-side tracking and optimize performance on the main social networking platforms. TikTok Events API (aka TikTok Conversion API) and Facebook Conversions API (or Facebook CAPI for short) are both such server-side solutions for tracking events. When combined, the two promise optimal attribution tracking and insights into marketing performance on these platforms.
Understanding the cookieless problem
In general, cookies are bits of HTML that store information about a user performing a certain action through identifiers like registration numbers or session IDs. These identifiers are exchanged between advertisers in order to track and measure ad performance.
As user privacy and security on the web are becoming more important for all parties involved, major players like Google, Firefox and Apple, to name just a few, have begun phasing out third-party cookies, which are believed to be not just a privacy, but also a security concern. Regulations like GDPR and CCPA now require users to consent to the use of third-party cookies, with a great number of users simply rejecting them.
Phasing out of the cookies isn’t the only concerning trend for marketers right now. Pixel solutions, like TikTok Pixel and Facebook Pixel (or Meta Pixel, if you wish) cannot be rejected by users as easily as cookies, but they are affected by other issues, most notably by ad blockers.
The solution for these social advertising platform issues lies in server-side (S2S) tracking.
Server-side tracking to the rescue
TikTok server-side tracking (just like Meta server-side tracking) is a more secure and more privacy-friendly way for marketers to track their conversions. In this tracking methodology, when a user clicks on a link or generates an ad impression, it creates a unique identifier (ID). This ID is stored and when the conversion happens, the ID is pulled out and matched with the click on the ad link. That way we can know for sure that it was this particular user that made this particular conversion, and track the conversion path.
The click ID alone packs some important information – the location, the browser, operating system, ISP, time and date. All this information is sent back along with the unique ID, allowing the marketers to know exactly when, where and how the conversion took place.
The main difference between server-side and client-side (or browser-side) tracking lies in where the information is collected and stored. In client-side tracking, it all happens within the browser, in which case tracking can be disabled using the browser’s native functionality, or using an ad blocker.
In server side tracking, the information is sent from the user’s browser to the advertiser’s web server and then to the advertising platform, so the conversion events can be recorded. By moving third-party cookies out of your website into server side processing through the cloud, that converts them into first-party cookies, which are less restricted by most privacy policies. This type of server side tracking isn’t obstructed by ad blockers which gives access to richer data. Since the quantity of code running in the browser is reduced, your website will load quicker. That provides a better user experience and is beneficial for improved SEO.
Available tools for server side tracking
Developing a native solution for server side tracking is way too complicated, time-consuming and resource-heavy for most marketers. If you are advertising on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, you need to know about the platforms’ unique solutions designed just for this purpose, the Meta Conversions API (Facebook CAPI) and the TikTok Events API.
Bear in mind that, when you integrate these server side tracking solutions, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo TikTok tracking pixel or Meta tracking pixel. Pixels are still valid, they’re still important and they still provide valuable insight. However, since server-to-server tracking can overcome certain issues that surround the use of pixels, it is recommended to use both methods: to combine conversion APIs with appropriate pixels.
The challenge with having both the server side tracking and also using a tracking pixel is that conversions are frequently double counted. This requires deduplication. Although this can be a bit complicated, a good TikTok Events API and Meta Conversion API expert can implement this correctly, so you get the best accurate conversion data possible:
TikTok Events API and Facebook Conversions API (Meta/Facebook CAPI).
For a truly comprehensive approach and maximum ad optimization, you should also consider combining TikTok conversion API with Facebook CAPI.
Why you should use both TikTok Events API and Facebook CAPI
TikTok Events API (sometimes referred to as TikTok Conversion API) and Facebook Conversion API or Meta CAPI (yes, the names can get confusing but they all mean the same thing) are basically the same solutions designed for different platforms.
TikTok Events API is a server-side solution that provides marketers with a secure, reliable and precise connection between TikTok and their ad data (through the website, the app or CRM). The interface sends the events or actions that customers take to TikTok, allowing marketers to understand which customer took which action, when, how, where, etc. That way, the Events API helps marketers improve attribution tracking.
The Meta Conversions API is a similar tool designed for tracking Facebook conversions. It provides a secure channel for exchanging marketing data with Meta, which can include website and app data and even offline conversions.
Here are a couple of reasons why every marketer should consider using both these APIs in order to optimize ad campaign tracking and targeting.
1. Wider scope for better attribution tracking
It only makes sense that covering more angles gives you better visibility. By collecting information on conversions coming from both the Facebook and the TikTok ads, you’re gaining a much wider picture and collecting insights about a much wider audience.
Using both TikTok Events API and Facebook CAPI, you can get information on different touchpoints and determine their role in driving the final conversion. This is vital for identifying the channels that perform better and provide a better ROI, but also for understanding which touchpoints could use improvement.
2. More accurate performance evaluation
Using both pixel tracking and server-side tracking provides the most visibility into your performance. And if you use both methods for two platforms – Facebook and TikTok – you’re essentially casting a larger net and providing more valuable data for your strategy.
Bear in mind, though, that in this case it’s crucial to have deduplication set up correctly.
If you connect your website, app or CRM activity to the platforms using both pixel and Events API, you will get duplicate data, or data that describes the same event. One of the events is therefore redundant and should be discarded, which is what we call deduplication. This is a necessary step if you’re tracking the same events. If you want to track different events, for instance to track Add to Cart events from the browser, and Purchase events from the server, you don’t have to set up deduplication as these are completely different events.
3. Improved segmentation and targeting
The math is quite simple here – the more audience you cover, and on more channels, the better your ability to segment it. TikTok Events API and Facebook or Meta CAPI give you accurate and secure data on how your audiences behave on each marketing platform. Using this data, you can segment the audiences better.
Additionally, using both the Meta Conversion API and TikTok Events API will enhance the ability for cross-platform retargeting of the ideal potential customers.
4. Bypassing issues like ad blockers or opting out of cookies
Like we said, TikTok server-side tracking, just like Facebook server-side tracking, gives marketers a chance to recover data that is otherwise lost to various technical issues like customers using ad blockers or in-built browsing functionalities that prevent cookies. Plus, more and more people are opting out of cookies by selecting “No” or “Deny” in the opt-in forms that you’re required to show if you’re using cookies.
Because they are server-to-server solutions, TikTok API and Facebook Conversions API are not affected by ad blockers like Facebook and TikTok Pixel are.
The Bottom Line
The takeaway here is quite simple: if your marketing strategy is cross-platform and if you’re placing ads on Meta (Facebook/Instagram) and TikTok, combining the two conversion APIs will enhance your retargeting abilities, improve attribution tracking and optimize your campaign performance. All the better if you use the APIs along with pixels:
Facebook Pixel + Facebook CAPI + TikTok Pixel + TikTok Events API = a formula that will optimize your marketing performance on these two major platforms.
If you have any questions about how to set it all up or you’re looking for the right approach for TikTok and Facebook advertising, the GrowMojo team of experts is always at your disposal. Contact us, and we’ll help you correctly implement your server side tracking that will maximize your ROI.