There’s a common belief that you need to train your Facebook pixel to send you the right traffic. If this is true, then it is obviously possible to ‘mistrain’ it, and convince Facebook that good traffic is bad or vice versa.

The Scenario

You set up your Facebook ad and let it run. Suddenly, Facebook stops approving your ads. On investigation, you find out that your website’s security has malfunctioned and started blocking clicks from your ads. Ack! This kind of technical problem can be hard to find; new customers will simply go elsewhere and existing customers are not clicking on your ads. Often by the time you realize your ad is not sending people to your site, numerous potential customers have been lost.

You fix the technical problem, but now you aren’t getting a single conversion. Is it possible that your Facebook pixel has been taught to believe good (potentially converting) traffic is, in fact, bad traffic due to the technical malfunction?

What do you do about it? Let it run and hope it fixes itself? Change your landing page? Start a new ad set or account?

How the Facebook Pixel Works

First of all, it’s a misunderstanding that the pixel has anything to do with what traffic is being sent. Rather, it’s a vehicle that transfers data to your Facebook account.

What you are “training” is the algorithms that govern who your ads are shown to, and that information is stored in your account under your ads and ad sets. Ad sets are generally independent of one another; after all, you may have products aimed at different audience segments, or be running several ads with different demographic targeting.

However, it’s still true that it stores what traffic doesn’t convert and optimizes your ads away from that traffic. Thus, a technical problem can cause false negatives and shift the attention of your ads elsewhere, possibly to people less likely to buy.

How Do You Fix It?

First of all, don’t panic. This is a fixable problem, although you can’t fix it by just letting the ad run as is. There are two approaches to the problem:

  1. Duplicate and relaunch the ad set. This will restart the ad with clear data, essentially erasing the false negatives causing your problems. Unless you have a lot of history on the ad set, this is by far the best way to fix it. Facebook will start over and learn the correct patterns. It should rebound quickly, assuming the ad was good in the first place.
  2. Spend your way out. You can also increase your budget temporarily. This will force Facebook to expand the audience on your ads, hopefully picking up the good traffic you’re missing. However, this does cost a fair bit of money and is not worth doing unless you have over 200 conversions on the account.

Bad data from a technical problem is obviously less likely to happen on accounts with a lot of history and conversions, but it can still happen. The other thing to consider, of course, is that the technical problem is only a coincidence. There may be other issues with your ads. As you will most likely be relaunching the ad set, you should take the opportunity to do some quick troubleshooting of your ad set to ensure that you are targeting the correct audience, that your audience is neither too narrow nor too broad, and that your ad is showing all of the correct information.

In short, yes it is possible for the Facebook “pixel” to be trained incorrectly, but the solution is simple. The sooner you fix it, the sooner your ads will be back to funneling prospective customers to your website.