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3 things you should know before running Facebook ads

Part 2: Drive more conversions via Facebook Ads with an in-depth look at Pixel optimization by Audience Development Manager, Evan Lauterbon.

6 min read

Marketing Strategy

3 things you should know before running Facebook ads


Welcome back to the second installment of my series on Facebook Pixel optimization. If you haven’t read part one, I highly recommend it. This article will be significantly more helpful if you have a basic overview of the Facebook Pixel fresh in your mind. If you’re short on time, scroll to the bottom of this article for a quick summary. I promise I’ll be only slightly offended if you don’t read it. 

As a forewarning, things get a bit more technical from here.


1. Facebook Pixel Helper

To start capturing data with the Facebook Pixel, you will need to ensure it is both installed properly on your website and actively firing. Luckily, Facebook has created a Google Chrome Extension called “Facebook Pixel Helper” to do just that. You can visit this link to download the extension.

To determine if you have installed the Pixel correctly, simply go to any webpage where you’ve inserted the code and look at the Facebook Pixel Helper icon in the top right-hand corner of your browser. It should be lit up and displaying a small number. If so, congratulations! Your Facebook Pixel is active and ready to capture data. You may also select the icon for more detailed information on your events.

As an added bonus, you will now be able to see Facebook Pixel events on other websites and view the various ways other marketers have implemented their event strategies.


2. Organization is Key 

Properly naming Pixel events based on actions taken by your site visitors is imperative both for organization and ad optimization purposes. For instance, if you want to track someone who views an item for sale on your site, you could use the built-in Pixel event called “PageView.” 

Here is an example from J.Crew with Pixel events used by their marketing team for individual products. You can also see that J.Crew uses several more events on this page, which is a practice we’ll cover in the next section.

If you have something unique like a quiz on your site that you would like to track visitor traffic for, Facebook handily gives you the option to manually name events. To do so, find the part of the Facebook Pixel code that looks like:

  fbq(‘init’, ‘1234567890123456’);
  fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);

From here, simply rename the latter part of the second line to represent whatever event you wish to track. For the aforementioned quiz example, that might look something like this:

  fbq(‘init’, ‘1234567890123456’);
  fbq(‘track’, ‘Quiz’);

This way, if you wanted to retarget people who took that quiz, you would be able to easily find them in Facebook Ads Manager and create a custom audience based on that event. 

Note: If you have installed the Facebook Pixel on your main site page, then you may skip parts 2-3 and simply segment your audiences by URL query rather than event. However, I personally find that using the above method provides better segmentation control.


3. Placing Multiple Events on the Same Page 

Working off what we’ve learned in the last tip regarding event name customization, having multiple Pixel events fire on the same page can be a game-changer for your retargeting efforts. Setting up concentric circles of audiences to serve different marketing purposes based upon specificity of content viewed will ensure your segments are only comprised of users you intend to reach.

For a visual aid, here’s an example using my previous article’s Pixel implementation. This is how I leverage Pixel data. 

If I wanted to run an ad campaign with broad appeal, I would utilize a Pixel audience created from the “ViewContentAD” event. Because that event is placed on all SmartBrief Originals posts, regardless of content topic, the campaign would only reach people who have recently visited and read an article on our site.

For a campaign targeting an audience predominantly comprised of marketers, I would utilize a Pixel audience created from the “ViewContentMarketing” event. That Pixel event is placed on all SmartBrief content related to digital marketing. Though we can’t be 100% sure, we can reasonably assume that people in that audience segment are either marketers or users interested in marketing.

The last Pixel event of “ViewContentFBpixel1” isn’t an event type that is useful in all scenarios, because it has been placed only on one specific webpage. However, this can be a best practice for segmenting users who have viewed a particularly valuable piece of content, like a white paper or infographic.

Custom events for single pages often are worth creating only if the traffic is highly valuable and has a strong chance of reaching the bottom of your funnel after being retargeted. In this case, the “ViewContentFBpixel1” event has been placed on my previous article, just as an example.

Note: These results can also be achieved via your website’s URL taxonomy if it has been set up with audience segmentation in mind; however, I find the method outlined above to be much easier. 



  1. The power of the Facebook Pixel, and retargeting in general, revolves around the concept of brand familiarity.  Targeting the right audiences at the right time is critical because people who have recently interacted with your brand/content often are more likely to take your campaign’s desired action. 
  2. Pixel Implementation isn’t just useful for written content alone. Place the Pixel in as many places as you need for testing later on. You might find that people who have read a blog post about your product are more likely to make a purchase than people who have watched a video about it, or vice versa. Create as many events as you need while still remaining organized.
  3. Taking the extra time to thoroughly set up your Pixel will pay off in the long run. When it’s time to start running your ads, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the work of setting up audience and conversion events. Feeding Facebook Ads Manager as much user data as possible via the Pixel will ensure it has learned enough about who to target within your specified audiences. In short, implement your Pixel sooner rather than later.

If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to thank you for reading part two of my series on Facebook Pixel Optimization. In my next installment, we’ll dive into audience creation, running your campaign and tying together everything we’ve learned thus far. For more content in this area, you can subscribe to our daily digital marketing newsletter, free. 


Evan Lauterborn is Manager of Audience Development at SmartBrief. He focuses on subscriber growth, subscriber retention, partnerships and managing the @SmartBrief Twitter account. Connect with him on LinkedIn.