If you’re optimizing your ad set for the wrong conversion event, your campaign will go south. Optimizing for a higher funnel position could save your bacon.

The Facebook™ pixel is magical.

If you’re running ad campaigns then you know what the Facebook™ pixel is, but do you know how it affects your results and how to fix the most common pixel problems? No? Then you’re in the right place, my friend. Let’s talk about it’s position in your funnel and what it means to your ads.

In my free guide on the right, I discuss 3 reasons your ad sets may stall or under-deliver, but in this article, let’s talk about reason #3: You’re optimizing for the wrong pixel event or the wrong position in your funnel. If you are curious about reasons 1 and 2, grab your free copy ➡️

Sounds so complicated, yet it’s really so simple…

Your sales funnel starts with bait, the free resource or piece of value that generates a lead. When someone signs up for your lead magnet, read magnet, video series or whatever you use to hook them into your funnel (bait … get it?) they give you their email address and that, my friend, is a lead.

If you’re using the Facebook™ pixel correctly, the lead event fires on the thank you page, and if your sales funnel has an OTO (one time offer) or up sell, they turn into a buyer when they pull out their credit card and the order is processed. Here, the purchase event fires on the order confirmation page (and maybe initiate checkout on the checkout page) and they move through your pixel events.

A person is in your lead pixel data and then your purchase pixel data. Easy squeezy, right? Let’s talk about conversion optimization.


When you create an ad set, you choose your pixel event and Facebook™ optimizes for that event. That means that the algorithm will go look for people they predict will purchase if that is the event you’re optimizing for, or those who will give up their email if you’re optimizing for leads. Facebook is only going to show your ad to a segment of your audience because the algorithm is looking or the audience members that will take the action you’re asking for, Facebook tries to get the result you are looking for – so if your funnel looks something like the image below, you can see how different those pixel events really are. We go through leads, add to cart, initiate checkout and purchase:

For ad set optimization, choosing the right conversion event is key because that’s what the algorithm uses to serve your ads. The pixel will optimize once it gets 50 of these events and Facebook has an easier time finding these folks, but if you have a lead magnet funnel and decide to run an ad for an offer, your campaign success is based on the data inside the pixel. Therefore, if you only have lead events in your pixel (the pixel will hold 28 days of conversion data) and you are looking for purchases, Facebook doesn’t have that kind of data.

In plain terms: if you’ve never sold anything and fired your purchase pixel event – Facebook™ doesn’t know who to find, because the pixel is essentially empty. Without those 50 events, it’s a cold purchase pixel. If you optimize for a higher funnel position event like add to cart and get 50 purchases, you can then create a new ad set and optimize for purchases. It’s just a way to get those 50 events so that the algorithm can do a better job optimizing for you and reaching people who will make the purchase.

I’ve seen so many people start an ad campaign and try to sell something and not get results and one of the things I look for when auditing their campaigns is the pixel event optimization and how much data that event has for the last 28 days. No purchases = no data, so optimizing for the purchase event results in money spent with no return, especially with smaller budgets.

Does this mean that you cannot sell with ads? Not at all, it must means that you are going to have to create the ad set and optimize for the higher funnel position: the lead event or initiate checkout, whatever is higher and has more data.

If you’re funnel is set up right, your higher funnel position will have the data needed to optimize your ad set so using that event will change your entire campaign.

Have an ad set optimized for a cold pixel event? Optimize for that higher funnel position and see what happens. If you’ve got the data, you’ve got a winner.

Oh, and if people are adding to cart or initiating the checkout and not purchasing – build an audience and remove the purchases and re-target like a boss.

Knowing where your pixels are in your funnel and how to optimize for campaign success can change your whole game and turn a failing campaign around.

I mean, you did start with list building and have a pixel fat with lead data, right?

In summary – this is what Facebook has to say about it:


You should choose your conversion window based on the type of conversion you value and want to measure. Don’t measure using a conversion window that doesn’t make sense for your product. Your conversion window should help our delivery system get you what you actually want. That being said, there are certain laws of statistical probability we can’t get around. We do need about 50 conversions per week to optimize an ad set’s delivery. If you can’t get that many, we recommend choosing a more common result. If that doesn’t work, try a longer conversion window. We also recommend trying out various relevant combinations of conversion windows, optimization events, bids and budgets to see what works best for your business.
Source: Facebook Help Center: Conversion Windows

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