Facebook Pixels and UTM Codes, A Love Story

By Marek Cornett

This blog originally appeared on Koch Communication's blog.

If you are working on your own to show success, we know understanding the return on your social media advertising can be as confusing as it is important.

There are a few tried and true methods we use to look at the success of social ads. To have a holistic view of ad performance, utilizing different analysis tools is essential. Together, Facebook conversion pixels and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes tell a more complete story for Facebook actions than either tracking method tells on its own. We use these tools to develop ways to optimize moving forward and ultimately lead to social media success.

Analysis tool: Facebook Conversion Pixels

A Facebook pixel is a piece of code inserted on every page of your website and is made up of two main elements, the base code and the event code. The base code tracks activity on your site, giving you a baseline of events, i.e., which pages users are visiting. The event pixel tracks actions, like a completed purchase, a search or the addition of an item to a shopping cart, that are the result of your Facebook ad or organic Facebook content. Facebook pixels are able to track customers who come back to your site after their initial visit through an ad or promoted post.

As an example, one of our clients has purchase conversion pixels set up on their website for a seven-day attribution. We hold on reporting that information until the seven days pass since we regularly see purchases creep up long after the initial visit to the website. We’re able to see the customer’s journey over that period and use that information to improve our client’s ad strategy moving forward.

Analysis tool: UTM Codes

UTM codes are additional parameters you can apply to the destination URL of an online advertisement or call to action leading back to your site. You’ve probably seen them before and not even realized it. They’re added to the end of a URL and usually look something like this: ?utm_campaign=Social&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=Facebook.

UTM data gives us information about how successful an advertisement may have been in regard to users fulfilling a desired action. We can correlate the click-through traffic from any URL or group of URLs to paint a larger picture about the type of people attracted to our client’s website, as well as how they behave once they land there. We analyze this information and then optimize based on learnings to attract more click-throughs or enhance the user experience on the site.

Facebook conversion pixels tell us one piece of a customer’s story – the story of the person who returns to a website several days later to purchase X, look at Y or submit their contact information. UTM codes tell us another piece, including information on what brought the customer to the site and how they move through it. Together, these tools can be used to not only better understand your audience, but also to help increase conversions or sales.

LinkedIn Advertising Starts Next Chapter with Matched Audiences

By Casey Cornett

This blog post originally appeared on VI Marketing & Branding's blog.

LinkedIn makes headlines in the marketing world for their advertising capabilities about as often as often as Kevin Durant misses a free throw (seldom). But, in the past month, LinkedIn packed their bags and headed toward an easier path to success (also like Kevin Durant).

When I say LinkedIn doesn’t make advertising headlines much, I wasn’t kidding. After a quick Google-search comparison, you'll see that searching for "Facebook Ads" results in 295 million stories, while “LinkedIn Ads” results in a mere 33.5 million stories. And a good chunk of that 33.5 million came in the past month when LinkedIn announced they were going to rollout “Matched Audiences” – a mirror of Zuckerberg’s “Custom Audiences” targeting that has proven extremely successful for those looking to grab some bottom-of-the-funnel users.

To be clear, yes, “Matched Audiences” is a mirror of some of Facebook's targeting options. But LinkedIn is far, far behind in overall capabilities. LinkedIn is still out there running 5k races while Facebook is setting records in marathons.

Let me explain.

Years ago, when Facebook rolled out “Custom Audiences” to the masses, I created a three-way targeting capabilities speech to help explain it. I used the acronym D.A.D. – Demographic, Action and Data.

What makes up the persona, including location, interests, job, financials, etc.

What the individual has physically done, including specific URLs visited (and URLs excluded/not visited). Why is the excluded/not visited option necessary? Because you certainly want to retarget those who go to your purchasing page (page 1), but you don’t want to retarget them if they actually finish paying (page 2) – so you only want to retarget those who hit page 1 and not page 2. Targeting one or the other would likely be a waste of money – so stop the waste, and put that money in a more beneficial place to reach your marketing objectives.

Direct identifiers to a unique person, including emails, phone numbers, address, etc.

Up until Facebook rolled out these advanced targeting options, their ad capabilities were still incredible, but primarily Demographic-based only (similar to LinkedIn circa April 2017). But when their capabilities stretched into actual off-Facebook actions and off-Facebook data? That's when Facebook really took off. While other platforms were sitting at home eating Flaming Hot Cheetos, Facebook was running circles around them outside.

So, what did LinkedIn actually roll-out to the masses this month? The last two letters of D.A.D., but on a smaller scale. Side note: major brands with enormous budgets have actually had these options when working 1-on-1 with a LinkedIn rep in the past.

With the website retargeting (Action), they only rolled out the “URLs visited” option and not the “URLs excluded” option.

With the Custom Audiences (Data) feature, they really only opened it up to targeting the individual’s employers and/or email targeting (and not matching for phone numbers, names, etc). Despite only the two added data features this should still be a throwing-confetti-and-popping-champagne moment for you B2B marketers, because LinkedIn has a very strong match rate of work emails (unlike Facebook, which really only matches users based on personal email accounts used to log in).

I’ve spent some time in this blog poking fun at LinkedIn (which I have always called the “least social” social network) for taking so long to roll out these features, and also for only rolling out small bits that Facebook has… but I will say it is a much needed step in the right direction for sure.


I do think LinkedIn will steal some of Facebook’s budgets with this move, and we will begin to see the monopoly at 1 Hacker Way begin to balance itself out a small bit. But not enough to make Kevin Durant switch teams and put on a LinkedIn jersey.