MythBusting: Facebook’s Server-to-Server Integration

Read Time: 2 mins 40 secs

Here at NMPi by Incubeta, intelligent, accurate attribution is always front and centre of our decision making. Social has always required a slightly different approach from our other performance channels due to the extremely limited insight available via third party tracking solutions. I wrote on this a couple of years ago here and sadly not much has changed. It has always been, more or less, Facebook’s way or the highway. This is particularly the case with post-view interactions, where historically Facebook has only allowed third-party tracking such as from Google Marketing Platform on certain targeting groups. The insight you can gain from this small section of your activity is also extremely limited in scope; only allowing you to verify impressions delivered, but not attribute sales.

As a result of this, there was considerable excitement at NMPi HQ (or our respective bedrooms/kitchens/garden sheds) when reading that Facebook & Google are taking some steps towards playing nice together. This consists of server-to-server integration, which is essentially communications between Facebook’s servers and a third party via API, in this case, Google Campaign Manager. This isn’t a new tool, you can already use server-to-server integration to attribute offline conversions and other data points to Facebook. However, there has been some confusion around the capabilities of the Campaign Manager integration specifically.

A Breakthrough for Social Attribution?

While some commentators have heralded this move as a gamechanger for Social attribution, the reality is much less groundbreaking. Server-to-Server integration with Campaign Manager will only allow impression counting and verification, rather than more in-depth information about post-impression conversions. Instead, the biggest opportunity that this change offers is the  ability to eventually allow impression counting across all target types, including pixel-based audiences, lookalikes, dynamic, and more. 

 Marketers have been crying out for a way to properly attribute Facebook’s post-view conversions and to be able to understand them within the context of their wider marketing mix. This change doesn’t solve this problem. Currently, all that is being shared across is a validation that the impression was served and the environment in which it was served. To allow post-view attribution, Facebook would have to share across a common identifier for the user that Google can read and match to a conversion. They can then place this in the wider path to purchase of this user, alongside all other channels tracked via Google Campaign Manager. However, this would likely lead to some issues with GDPR around sharing this user data over – even if Facebook opted to do so – and any solutions to enable this would require more data being shared between the two tech giants. 

A Step in the Right Direction

Server-to-server integration as a tool, in general, does certainly offer marketers an opportunity to gather more insights into the performance of their social campaigns. Most of the applications of this integration are designed to attribute more sales to Facebook ads (e.g. store & affiliate site conversions). However, we can still hope and this is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of sharing data more openly and effectively between Facebook & Google. There are unfortunately a few more hurdles to clear before we can start to glean full insights into the post-view performance of our Social campaigns.