How Custom Pixel Events Can Boost Your Dealership’s Facebook Ads

How Custom Pixel Events Can Boost Your Dealership’s Facebook Ads

What is your dealership doing on Facebook? Take a moment to learn about an important feature that can help you cut through the noise.

If your dealership is running Facebook ads, it’s likely that you probably have a Facebook Pixel installed on your website. (If not, we can help you with that).

This pixel is a piece of code that records everything Facebook users are doing on your website. These activities are called “events” and there a bunch of them pre-defined by Facebook:

  • Contact
  • Find location
  • Lead
  • Purchase
  • Schedule
  • Search
  • Subscribe
  • View content (which is probably the post familiar one for us auto dealership marketers)

In addition to the list above, your dealership can also define specific custom actions that indicate that a visitor is high-quality. These can be used to optimize your campaigns.

Plus, if they’re mapped to a custom conversion you can even use these custom events to report more specific outcomes of your campaigns.

After all, if the user’s action is considered “good” on the website, we want more of it!

Replicating “Good” Behavior on a Dealership’s Website

Our own Performance Benchmarks Report shows that “good” on a dealership’s website is determined by a few basic measurements:

  • 1.67 sessions per user
  • 4 minutes and 28 seconds per visit
  • 4.83 pages per session
  • Bounce rate should be around 20%

An active shopper may visit around 4 to 10 VDPs per visit, so we want to see which ones drew most of their attention. This is where custom events come in handy!

For one of our dealership clients here in the Midwest, 9 Clouds implemented a custom pixel event for VDP views. Every time a user visited any pre-owned VDP for more than 30 seconds, they were automatically tracked by the Pixel and added to a custom audience. Then, we retargeted this custom audience with Facebook ads.

Custom Event Based on Time on Site

But it’s not just about the time people spend, but what people are doing with that time. For example, we know that most VDPs have a variety of forms and buttons that are either coded into the page or provided by a third party service (CarFax, Kelly Blue Book, etc.).

Your dealership can set up custom events to track virtually all of the forms, search boxes, photos, and other buttons on your site. Then, you can use these events to optimize your targeting.

Using Custom Pixel Events for a Dealership

Setting up custom events has been a fantastic learning experience for our agency, and we have some favorable test results from the last few months.

It’s important to understand that custom events are not readily available in the Pixel. These custom events are, well, custom. Therefore, they need to be created manually. With some help from our own developer, we were able to deploy two custom pixel events for a dealership here in the Midwest.

NOTE: If you’re feeling like this is too technical, you’re not alone! To set up custom pixel events at your dealership, we recommend asking your website manager for help. Send them Facebook’s own custom event documentation as well as this very helpful guide from Jon Loomer.

Initial Test Findings

The first custom event we made was for a 30-second time on page. It “fires” every time a person spends 30 seconds viewing any page on the site. When we use this for targeting, we’re able to specify which pages we want the 30 second view to happen on.

The second custom event we created was for a 30% page scroll. So, every time a person scrolls down 30% or more on a page, the event fires and tells Facebook that this is a quality visitor.

In December, we put both of these custom pixel events to the test in a campaign promoting the dealership’s used budget inventory.

First, we created two custom audiences. The first one included anyone who performed a 30-second view on a used VDP in the last 30 days. The second audience included anyone who scrolled 30% or more of a used VDP.

Our hypothesis was that the custom pixel events would separate a higher quality audience from everyone who viewed those same pages.

Because this was a top-of-funnel campaign, we wanted to reach more people who were like the people who performed the custom events. To do this, we created a Special Ads Audience (SAA) based on the custom audiences. We targeted the 30-second custom event in one ad set, and the 30% page scroll in the second ad set.

What we found is that the 30-second ad set drove better engagement and better reach than the 30%-scroll ad set.

  • 30-Second Event: 2,129 landing page views, 5.75% link click-through rate
  • 30% Scroll Event: 1,970 landing page views, 4.93% link click-through rate

From a higher level view, this campaign performed slightly above average compared to similar used budget inventory campaigns. So, while the custom-event-based SAA didn’t perform significantly better than other audiences, the custom audience feature is still a valuable tool for tracking and optimization.

Now that we know how to set up the custom pixel events, and how to use them to drive SAA audiences, our next step will be to integrate them into our funnel strategy.

For example, since we can calculate the average session duration for any group of VDPs in Google Analytics, we can then create a custom pixel event that is above that average. Instead of our normal 30-second event, it will be something like 1:45 for budget used VDPs.

By optimizing the timeframe based on user behavior, we can use this audience to do a very tailored retargeting campaign that speaks directly to the unique needs of that audience.

Two More Important Considerations for Facebook Custom Pixel Events for Auto Dealers

In April 2021, Apple made a security update that impacted the volume of events that happen on your site. They prompted all iOS14 (iPhone) users with an alert message, giving them the choice to opt in or opt out of pixel tracking. If a person opts out, your Facebook Pixel won’t be able to track them.

For iOS14 users who opt out, Facebook uses an algorithm called “Aggregated Event Measurement” which provides an informed estimate in your ad account. This can be seen under the Landing Page View reporting column in Ads Manager.

The Aggregated Events Measurement disclaimer as shown within Ads Manager.

As part of this update, Facebook allows advertisers to use only up to eight events in their Pixel, including standard and custom events.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that, while Custom Pixel Events can be used for optimization and targeting, they won’t show up in reporting. To see the number of events that happen as the result of your campaigns in ads manager, you’ll need to map the custom event to a custom conversion. Jon Loomer has a great article on how to do just that.

Have Facebook Questions? We Have Answers

9 Clouds works closely with dealerships throughout the United States, and we’re excited to share more insights with you.

If your dealership wants to run better Facebook Ads, download our free ebook, Facebook and Instagram Ads for Auto Dealers.

And, when you’re ready to learn more about our Facebook advertising services, contact us for a free one-on-one marketing assessment.

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