Meta Pixel Introduction
We spend more time doing tasks online than physically going out in our increasingly technological and digital worlds. Doing tasks such as shopping, watching movies, ordering food, and working from home has become easier and more accessible. In many world regions, the COVID-19 pandemic helped change thinking in how we conducted everyday tasks and changed daily routines. People lost essential things that were taken for granted: family, friends, time, jobs, education, and the ability to go out and socialize, to name a few.
Bustling streets grew quiet, in-person activities stopped, restaurants closed their doors, and supply shortages. As lockdowns prevented people from congregating, people had to find ways to work from home effectively and efficiently. Enter the shift to online and digital services.
Amazon saw a huge income boost due to its massive scale and proven Prime membership network. According to Business Wire, Amazon reported 2021’s Q1 net income of $8.1 billion compared to $2.5 billion in Q1 of 2020.
Popular streaming service Netflix also saw a boost in net profits. Referring to their shareholder letter for Q1 of 2020, net profits reached a staggering $709 million. Compared to $344 million in Q1 of 2019, the stay-at-home mandates certainly played a factor in the increase as people searched for entertainment.
WHAT IS THE META PIXEL?
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, designed and offers the Meta Pixel tool. According to the “About Meta Pixel” webpage, “Meta Pixel is a piece of code that you put on your website that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your advertising by understanding the actions people take on your website.”
Websites that are pixel-enabled collect user data called “events.” An event is recorded and sent back to Facebook when someone interacts with the website. This tool works with Facebook’s advertising management tools to collect user data for later analysis via their business platform.
For example, adding an item to the shopping cart is considered an event, as is subscribing to a mailing list or channel on YouTube. Their other tools, including the Pixel, are all designed to maximize “conversions.” MarketingSherpa describes conversion as one action leading to another.
If you subscribe to a mailing list/newsletter and click a news article or the “claim offer” button, that is a conversion. The best conversion is when a consumer purchases something from a website.
BUSINESS META PIXEL BENEFITS
Data analysis is one of the main benefits of tracking uses. Not only does this allow businesses to show and check site traffic, but it also allows them to change their implementations of adverts and optimize a business’ cost-per-lead (CPL) in addition to leads to sales or leads-to-close ratio (LTC). CPL is a ratio of investment to leads (potential customer), while the LTC is the ratio of leads that turned into sales.
As mentioned earlier, the Pixel tracks events such as tracking when someone adds an item to their cart. This is an important metric because it tells a business to begin researching why or showing factors that can affect a customer’s decision to check out their cart items.
Perhaps a competing retailer has a similar product for a lower price, offers a better warranty, better customer service, website experience, etc. The website experience is extremely valuable in creating a good customer experience and plays a significant role in either encouraging or deterring customers.
People can be reminded to buy an item through advertisements and the Pixel data and know where and when to show certain products to users. Everyone’s lives are filled with distracting events, so retargeting the audience(s) supplies more chances of a customer buying an item or service.
HOW-TO USE META PIXEL
Steps to setting up a Pixel:
- The first step to implementing a Pixel is to set up a Facebook business account to enable access to the Business Manager
- Once the business account has been set up, you will be directed to the “Business Home” page. This page allows you to explore and view your data collected from a Pixel. On the left of the home page, there is a vertical sidebar with several options to select from. Select “Events Manager”.
- To deploy a new Pixel, make sure you are in the “Data Sources” tab on the left sidebar. This icon is under the hamburger menu.
- Next, on the right-most section of the page, a button titled “Overview.”
- Click the button that says, “Continue Pixel Setup.” You will be prompted to select either “Conversion API” or “Meta Pixel.” Choose the latter and click the “Connect” button to continue.
- You can now decide to install the piece of code manually or select from partner do-it-yourself website builders such as Squarespace or WordPress.
- If you choose to go for the manual choice, you will be given a code to add to your website.
- The alternative way is to connect the Pixel via partner services such as Squarespace, WordPress, etc.
Consumer profiling is when information is collected about a person by browsing and buying habits and location information. Businesses collect this data, organize or separate users into groups, and analyze what they are most likely to purchase and who ultimately buys what product(s). Companies can use profiling data to compare actual customers against their targeted audience and determine whether they align.
If they reached their first demographic and showed potential in another, it would be beneficial to continue tracking and expanding the advertising campaign into that demographic. When a company finds that it didn’t reach its demographic, it should invest in reworking its advertisement campaign or catering to a different market.
Profiling can benefit a business because it lets them know who their audience and customers are, thus making it easier and more efficient to market products. On the other hand, people may not like the fact that they are being tracked and, in a way, being manipulated into spending money.
ETHICS IN PROFILING
I think most consumers might see tracking as manipulative and an invasion of privacy. While it might supply the data and tools a business needs to grow and succeed, people waive their rights to security and privacy.
I do what I can to reduce my digital footprint wherever and whenever I can to make my presence online obscure. Apple, for example, has been a larger proponent of digital privacy as of iOS 14.5, requiring developers to show what information and data are being associated with you. iOS users have been given options to allow tracking or requests not to be tracked. You can learn more about their privacy options on their website for App Store developers.
Corporations and businesses need to be held accountable for supporting and fulfilling their corporate social responsibility (CSR), but consumers should also fulfill their role of being informed. Trusting companies and businesses, huge ones, have been increasingly difficult because no one knows the extent of their power and how they can manipulate our behavior.
I think there are more implications about web tracking other than convenience and ad personalization. In the case of the Cambridge Analytica debacle in 2018, the firm could obtain more data due to Facebook’s ability to connect users. Much turmoil and discussion came out of the discovered events, and Meta’s reputation has been on a consistent decline.
In early 2022, Investopedia published an article about Meta Platforms announcing a “decline in monthly active users (MAU) for the first time.” Their stock dropped over 25% that was worth billions of dollars.
I have high certainty that the perception of web tracking was a factor that contributed to the decline in usage, and according to Vox, their growth had stagnated for a long time, as well as the “aging user base.”
There is a lot of competition in the social media market. Younger people choose to use other services such as TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram (owned by Facebook, but they are different platforms). TikTok is one of the largest competitors, reaching one billion users in September 2021. I believe that social media and being a content creator are defining characteristics of the current generation of people.
The phrase “if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product” rings true throughout the plethora of web and digital services people use every day. Whether watching a YouTube video, browsing Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, or Snapchatting, adverts are implemented. From our physical and material lives to our digital lives, they are following us everywhere we go.
More methods you can use to start reducing your digital footprint include:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Account management settings
- Browse cautiously
A VPN is a service that uses encryption and traffic rerouting to hide the contents being sent and received from ISPs. This is a valuable tool in increasing privacy against ISPs that may track and check the websites and consume data. VPNs providers can offer a geographic unblocker that allows you to appear as if you were in a region and access region-locked content. This also makes it more challenging to track who you are because the VPN location is different from your physical location.
Ad-blockers are a standard tool to block advertisements as you browse the web and visit websites. This can make user-tracking tools like the Pixel less effective because it won’t be loaded and thus not able to track your actions.
Changing account settings for services like Google is a good start at reducing what they track you with. Options include pausing web and app activity, location history, and the choice to disable ad personalization.
Finally, browse cautiously. With spam emails and advertisements more abundant, they can hold trackers and unknown links to begin targeting users for fraud operations. It’s essential to know where you are going and look at the URL tooltips before opening a link. Even something that seems simple as checking your email inbox, checking the sender is the first way to know if an email is legitimate.
Taking actions such as not linking accounts or using login services from Google or Facebook is a way to reduce what they know and associate you with. It’s essential to spend time thinking about privacy and, by extension, how companies will use your data and habits to exploit your behavior.