Find Ecommerce Pixel Errors with Facebook’s Pixel Helper

If you run Facebook Ads for e-commerce websites, you probably already use product catalog campaigns to dynamically re-target folks who visit your product pages. You probably also know about the three Facebook pixel events required for product catalog campaigns: ViewContent, AddToCart, and Purchase. But did you know that if one of these events fails, all product catalog campaigns come to a screeching halt? This post will show you how to spot pixel errors using the free Chrome extension Facebook Pixel Helper.

Facebook Pixel HelperAfter installing the pixel helper, navigate to your home page, then click the pixel helper’s icon </> from your list of extensions. The helper should read, “One pixel found on www…” or it might say multiple pixels found. [If a pixel was NOT found, work with your web developer to properly install the Facebook pixel.]

Now click around the rest your site to verify the pixel exists everywhere.

💡 The pixel itself can do many things, but its default function is to track PageView events. See the green check mark next to PageView in the screenshot above? This indicates the PageView event has fired on the page you loaded. In Facebook ads, we build custom audiences of website visitors based on the PageView event firing across all pages on your site.

Let’s assume PageViews are firing. The next step is to navigate to a product page and check the pixel helper. Here you should see that ViewContent has fired, signaling to Facebook that you have viewed a key page along with important e-commerce parameters such as price, currency, name, and product ID.

viewcontent did not fireBut what if ViewContent does not fire (screenshot to the left)? In that case, your website cannot send key product data back to Facebook, and your product catalog campaigns cannot run. Remember: no ViewContent = no product catalog and no dynamic retargeting!

💡 Required ViewContent parameters for product catalog campaigns are content_ids and content_type. These will match up to corresponding fields in your catalog. If one of these parameters is missing, the catalog can no longer match products.

Assuming ViewContent fires correctly, let’s stay on a product page and click the Add to Cart button. When set up properly, a button click is all it takes to trigger the AddToCart event, relaying to Facebook that a shopper intends to purchase that product. Required AddToCart parameters are content_ids and content_type. Just like above, no AddToCart = no product catalog and no dynamic retargeting!

The third event required for product catalog campaigns, called Purchase, is a bit harder to test because you can’t easily navigate to your website’s Thank You or Success page where this event fires. The best way to test the Purchase event is to look at Facebook Ads Manager to see if any conversions have come through in the last few hours. Or if you are on Shopify or some similar e-commerce platform, you can view a live Thank You page without having to make a purchase — just ask your e-commerce admin for help. The Purchase event passes the same required parameters as the other events above, and as you might guess, no Purchase = no product catalog and no dynamic retargeting!

Are We a Match?

If all three required events and corresponding parameters are firing but your product catalog campaign still isn’t delivering, it is possible the product IDs in your catalog do not match the IDs on your website. unmatched add to cartIn the example screenshot to the right, the warning message “Can’t match products” indicates the product with ID 297356754968 is missing from the product catalog. In other words, the AddToCart pixel event has fired correctly, but there is no product in the catalog with the same ID. No matching products = no product catalog and no dynamic retargeting.

There are two ways to fix this issue: either tweak the product feed (easier) or tweak all three pixel events on the website (more difficult). Once corrected, pixel helper will update the status in real-time letting you know the problem is fixed.

Now with all three pixel events in place and matched to your product catalog, your dynamic ads campaign should be ready to rock!

A Second Approach

Facebook also provides a dashboard for troubleshooting pixel events. Just head over to www.facebook.com/events_manager/pixel/EVENTS (screenshot below). Here you can check pixel status at a glance, including pixel fires over time, but you will not find product-level detail such as product IDs, matched/unmatched products, price, etc.
facebook pixel events dash

Between the Facebook dashboard and the pixel helper, you should have all you need to diagnose and fix your e-commerce website’s pixel issues.

What do you think? Have you found other ways to ensure your product catalog campaigns continue to run smoothly? Or are you still stuck? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Terry D. Whalen

    Wow! Joey! The best!!!

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