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Protect Your Patient Data: How to Target Without Using the Meta Pixel


Health systems and other healthcare practices deal with sensitive patient data, much of which is stored online. In our current climate of data breaches and high-profile lawsuits about the mishandling of patient data, there’s been a trend toward being conservative when it comes to tracking through digital ads. This follows a broader trend of websites going cookie-less to give users more control over their own data. However, that doesn’t spell the end of digital marketing for healthcare. We’re going to focus specifically on social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram today and share how by taking your campaign strategy back to the basics, you can still effectively target and retarget consumers through social media without using Meta’s tracking pixel.

Run successful campaigns without the Meta pixel

There are a few caveats to removing the Meta pixel while still running Facebook and Instagram ads—but if you go into the process with clear expectations, we believe that you can run just as successful campaigns as before without the tracking pixel.

The first caveat is that not using a pixel will require a lot more manual set up and analysis. The other important thing to know before you begin, is that without the historical website audience data from the pixel, you will essentially be starting completely fresh for each new campaign. So, it helps when starting this process to think of each first campaign you run for a particular audience or service line as an experiment to start building Meta’s knowledge base.

As you embark on this retooling process, we also advise you to expect a dip in your total clicks and click-through rate (and many other KPIs) at first. Remember, the first campaign will be about learning how to better target your ads without the help of audience profiles from your brand’s website.

Ready to start your test campaign? Pick a somewhat broad audience and run ads for about a month. Be sure to put a cost cap on clicks for your ads as well—without any preset targeting, you can run through budget a lot faster, so be cognizant of how much you want to spend for your experiment. Then you can go in and analyze the results to look for trends and ways to optimize your next wave of ads.

Here’s what we look for to optimize the next round:

Placement. Which ad placement—feed, in reels, sidebar, etc.—got served the most and saw the most clicks? In your subsequent ad sets, you can limit your ads to only the placements that perform the best.

Time and date. Was there a trend in time of day or day of the week when your ads saw more clicks? If so, you can allocate more of your ads to be sent out at those key times for the next round.

Platforms. Did you receive more clicks from Facebook or Instagram? What is the age demographic of those clicking? See if the age of your traffic aligns with your expectations for the platform. For example, if most of your clicks come from A50+, you might want to focus your spending on Facebook over Instagram, which is the platform with a higher concentration of adults in your target age group. We also recommend manually setting separate budgets for Facebook and Instagram to increase performance on each platform.

Messaging and creative. Is there one headline or art style that performed better than the others? You can use this information to prune out the low performing ads for your second round and give direction to your creative team on which look and message are resonating and performing best.

If your original campaign contained video assets, Facebook and Instagram have a retargeting workaround that allows you to retarget future campaigns to users who engaged with that video. You can save that video engagement audience to use in future campaigns for similar topics, which can help drive ad budget efficiencies.

Then you can take everything you learned from your experimental run of ads and apply it to create a more targeted second run, which may start to garner the levels of clicks and engagement that you’re looking for. Continual analysis and revisions will help you create custom targeting and audience profiles on your own, without the use of Meta’s website data collection.

There is still a place for Facebook and Instagram advertising, even in a pixel-less future. Would you like to learn more about how this strategy could work for your brand? Need a team to take on this more manual process? Let’s start a conversation to see how B&Y’s digital team can help your healthcare company succeed in the social advertising space.