ios14 displayed on a phone and meta logo in web browser

What is CAPI and how will it impact your nonprofit?

A glimpse at a cookie free world 

Since 2007 Facebook has found great success in serving ads to its users at what could be considered a shockingly specific level. They have gone through many challenges over the years including algorithm changes, fake accounts and many more, but a 2021 press release by Apple proved to be one of the biggest roadblocks to date. In April 2021 Apple announced their newest iPhone operating system update, iOS 14.5, would give users the ability to ask apps to not track them. This would allow users to stop the collection of 3rd party cookies that many companies use to collect information and better serve ads. 

This change was a major hit to Meta, Facebook’s parent company, as they projected a $10 billion revenue hit as a result of Apple’s newest privacy switch. This followed by Google announcing that they plan to phase out 3rd party cookies by 2024 meant that Meta had to innovate and release a new product that would be known as CAPI. 

What is CAPI? 

CAPI or Conversions API is Meta’s server side tracking solution. This means that when a user performs an action on your website, that information is sent to your server and later transferred to Facebook via an API. 

This option is replacing browser side tracking, which uses a pixel to create a cookie that tracks activity and sends it back to Facebook. This way of tracking has quite a few challenges that CAPI is geared to fix, such as privacy based browsers that  automatically block web trackers. 

CAPI also looks to be the workaround to iOS 14.5 privacy features, because the information goes through your own server and not through anything placed on the site. This doesn’t mean that it is the end of the pixel though—one of the features that CAPI provides is the ability to catch duplicate events and ensure it isn’t collecting the same conversion with both CAPI and the pixel. This can give you a clear understanding of what is being picked up by the pixel and what is being captured by CAPI. 

This is important for your nonprofit to know because Meta is changing how they capture user events and using a more complex way of doing it. This can be very beneficial because you can get more accurate data. This should be considered sooner rather than later to allow time for set up and the ability to use the browser pixel events while you get CAPI up and running. 


Privacy vs performance

This is the part of the blog where you start to wonder if working on this new tech is worth it or truly needed. This is a tough question, from what we can tell there are benefits from a tracking side and a cookieless tracking alternative. 

However, there can be challenges when implementing because of the complexity, but if your nonprofit uses a platform such as WordPress there may be options for plugins or integrations that can make this easier. From a performance side we saw the impact of iOS 14.5 that may impact your nonprofit. 

So, should your nonprofit consider making the shift? While we can’t answer that question for you, we can break down what we have been seeing. 

Rising Conversion Costs

We’ve seen an uptick in cost-per-conversion for clients engaging in Facebook and Instagram campaigns where the conversion action is on a website or landing page. Because of the tracking limitations for iOS users and smaller attribution window for conversion, the campaigns aren’t able to optimize around these types of conversion events as efficiently as they used to, leading to a higher cost-per-conversion. 

With the higher costs, our team has been focused on strategies to help spend paid media budgets more efficiently.

We’ve seen success with different strategies, including on-platform Facebook and Instagram lead generation campaigns—through lead forms—with lower cost-per-conversions and more accurate on-platform data. Additionally, we’ve been adjusting to Facebook’s new interest targeting limitations with stronger first-party data lists and lookalike audiences to increase our targeting net and drive a greater volume of leads, as well as remarketing to Facebook and Instagram page likes and engagements for better on-platform data.

To diversify our paid media strategies, we’ve also been including Responsive Display campaigns and Google Discovery campaigns to help mitigate costs and get in front of audiences in a different way.

Conversion Tracking Accuracy

Another side effect our campaigns have seen is the accuracy of conversions tracked on-platform—both from a volume and targeting standpoint. With users opting for greater privacy walls, tracking conversions from website events aren’t  always one-to-one. 

By implementing UTM parameters with all of our ads, we’re able to better see the true number of conversions in Google Analytics, helping us make more real-time adjustments to our campaigns. 

From a location-performance perspective, the shift from iOS 14.5 also hinders tracking conversions by location. Though campaigns can still track various key performance indicators by state, region, and country, conversion attribution remains a mystery.

Server-Side Future

Meta isn’t the only company finding ways to ensure they are able to keep up with a cookieless future. Google has released Server-Side Tagging for Google Tag Manager and Google Enhanced Conversions which will allow for collecting and hashing 1st party data. Each new feature will include a list of opportunities, challenges, and roadblocks, but it is important to start considering these new features before a platform forces you. This will give you time to learn and find any problems while still having your pixel there to back you up. 

If you’re finding it hard to keep up with the ever changing data policies, our team is happy to help with all of your marketing technology and advertising needs—contact a member of our team to learn more.


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