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Google Pixel 3a pays users to sell their phone

Google’s Pixel 3a may be the key to the company spreading beyond the most basic version of a smartphone company – hardware-wise. While it always seemed like Google SHOULD be able to make the best-selling smartphone with Android (since they own Android), it’s never truly come to pass – until now. Now that Google’s adopted a two tiered system, not just a two-sized system, they’ve tapped a market they’ve never really commanded before: The “how is it possible that they’re selling this phone for this price” market.

We’ve been trained to think that smartphones should cost many hundreds of dollars if we’re aiming for the best-on-market machine. We’ve been pushed in this direction over the past decade. If we start at around 2007 when the first iPhone was released (and the true smartphone wars began), the best-in-market phone cost approximately $500 USD.

SEE TOO: Our Google Pixel 3a Review

In the past decade, smartphone companies went from having dozens of different smartphones released each year to having only a handful, now back to somewhere in-between. Now we’re at a sort of sweet spot, and companies like Samsung have smartphones at ever price tier from a couple hundred dollars all the way over a thousand.

Now we have Google seeming to get serious about selling smartphones for the first time, ever. They had to know that the first couple of years on the market wouldn’t destroy all competitors – hence the less-than-massive marketing push for the Pixel 1 and 2, and maybe even 3.

Now, here before the Google Pixel 4, Google’s played a card that signals their intent to take on the biggest names in mobile devices. They’ve allowed their most “magical” features to be sold in the form of a “budget” smartphone by the name of Google Pixel 3a. They’ve got the brand, one of the most recognizable and trusted brands in the world. They’ve got the hardware – they’ve got a team that’s been responsible for some of the most iconic smartphones in history (with HTC).

With the Pixel 3a, Google’s struck gold, and they’re striking while the iron is hot. Right this minute, Amazon’s best-selling “unlocked cell phone” is the Google Pixel 3a in “Just Black” for $388. This device is out-selling phones like the Samsung Galaxy A10 (second in line with a near full-frontal display and a price of $134 USD) and the iPhone 6 (“renewed” sorta like refurbished, unlocked for around $137 USD).

This might have something to do with the offer sent to owners of the Google Pixel 3a this week. This offer suggested that if someone used the code included with the email, both the sender of the code and the person buying the phone would get $50 in credit in the Google Play store.

Google’s making the effort this time, prepping the world for the Google Pixel 4 by selling as many Google Pixel 3a as possible. They could sell this phone at a loss and still come out ahead, once these users demonstrate the power of the camera within. By the time August rolls up and we see the Google Pixel 4, people will be clamoring to grab it.

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Google Pixel 3A Review: A Budget Phone That Acts Like A Premium Flagship

The Google Pixel 3a has the right combination of great, good enough, and affordability to rival phones that cost twice as much.

The Google Pixel 3a makes a strong case for tossing out the spec sheet. On paper, it looks like yet another boring budget smartphone, with a middling processor, single front and rear cameras, and a bare-minimum 1080p screen. But in your pocket, you might just mistake it for a premium phone.

Ignoring the numbers game

For as long as high-end Android phones have existed, we’ve been trained to believe that we need the biggest battery and best processor to get the best experience. As such, handsets have crossed the thousand-dollar threshold to give us the specs they’ve convinced us we need, as premium phones have all sought to outdo each other with cameras, RAM, storage, and pixels.

Michael Simon/IDG

You can squeeze the sides of the Pixel 3a to summon Google Assistant.

The Pixel 3a does none of that. Spec-, design-, and most importantly, price-wise, it’s the antithesis of a premium Android phone. It’s made of plastic rather than glass, has a Full HD screen instead of a Quad HD one, and its interior attributes are decidedly non-premium as well:

Processor: Snapdragon 670

RAM: 4GB

Storage: 64GB

Battery: 3,000mAh

Front camera: 8MP, f/2.0

Rear camera: 12MP, f/1.8, OIS

But numbers aren’t what the Pixel 3a is selling. Much like the premium Pixel—which also has just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of base storage—the 3a makes the most of its parts, offering an Android experience that rivals phones that cost more than twice as much. Plus it has a headphone jack, which makes the lack of one on the higher-priced Pixel more glaring. I’d like an option for more storage or at least a slot for an SD card, but as it stands, the Pixel 3a maxes out at a relatively paltry 64GB of storage. Keep in mind that you don’t get free unlimited storage of photos in original quality like you do on the Pixel 3, so space might become an issue.

In benchmarks, the Pixel 3a’s Snapdragon 670 scored around 7,250 in the PCMark Work 2.0 test, lower than the Snapdragon 845-based Pixel 3’s 8,828, but not crippling by any stretch. Geekbench 4 returned similar results, with the Pixel 3a posting a 1,600/5,125 (single-core/multi-core) score versus 2,358/8,337 on the Pixel 3, but all in all, the Snapdragon 670 wasn’t as laggy as I expected. Only occasionally during my testing was I consciously aware that I wasn’t using a near-thousand-dollar phone, and even then, it was fleeting. More often than not, I forgot that I wasn’t using the grown-up Pixel.

Michael Simon/IDG

The Pixel 3a runs the latest version of Android—and will until Android S in 2023.

That’s because Google has taken an iOS-like approach with the Pixel 3a. Instead of building a phone optimized to run Android, Google has optimized Android for the handset to the point where the Pixel 3, which costs twice as much, doesn’t feel all that much faster than the 3a in normal use. Even with a lesser processor, Android Pie on the Pixel 3a is as fast or faster than it is on phones that cost twice as much. Little touches like Now Playing (which listens to background audio to automatically ID songs on the lock screen and notification panel) are delightful without dragging things down. And because you’re guaranteed to get three years of Android updates—something few phones in this price range can promise—your Pixel 3a might actually feel faster even as its hardware ages.

A design that finally fits

Michael Simon/IDG

Is that…. yes, it’s a headphone jack!

The front of the phone has a modest screen-to-body ratio, but the 5.6-inch OLED display’s rounded corners and 18.5:9 aspect ratio give it a high-end feel. The Full HD display itself is basically the same as the one in the 5.5-inch Pixel 3, with 441 ppi (vs 443 on the Pixel 3) and full 24-bit color depth, though it’s wrapped in Dragontail glass rather than the more famous Corning Gorilla Glass. You likely won’t notice the difference, however. My case- and screen protector-less Pixel 3a picked up a few visible smudges reminiscent of the Pixel 2’s oleophobic coating issues, but it emerged scratch- and scuff-free.

Michael Simon/IDG

The Pixel 3a has the same two-tone look as the Pixel 3, except here it’s all made of plastic.

Besides, you’re not going to have to charge it all that often. Not only does it feature 18W fast charging via the bundled charger, it’ll also likely last you through a whole day. In testing, I was able to reach more than seven hours of screen-on time and 14+ hours between charges, which should get most people through a day. If you can’t make it, a quick 30-minute charge will give you all you need.

A premium shooting experience

12.2MP dual-pixel

ƒ/1.8

Autofocus + dual pixel phase detection

Optical + electronic image stabilization

Michael Simon/IDG

The Pixel 3a, left, actually captured better distance detail than the iPhone XR in this shot.

Unfortunately the dedicated Pixel Visual Core image signal processor isn’t present on the 3a, so photos aren’t quite as sharp or as detailed as they are on the higher-priced Pixel phones, but they’re still fantastic for a phone in this price range. I was most impressed with the color accuracy, which was rich and vibrant without being oversaturated. Portraits were equally impressive, with crisp edges and impressive definition even when dealing with objects instead of people.

Michael Simon/IDG

In good lighting, the Pixel 3a is capable of taking some fantastic shots.

Even motion shots, which generally cause all kinds of issues in budgets smartphones, showed minimal blur. In the photo of the rollercoaster above (center), the Pixel 3a not only captured the quickly-moving car, but legs and arms are also in focus. That’s the kind of quick shutter that I expect from a $900 phone but not from a $399 one. Heck, some premium phones can’t handle motion as well as the Pixel 3a does.

Michael Simon/IDG

With Night Sight turned on, the Pixel 3a (left) is able to capture an incredible amount of color with barely any light, but the Pixel 3 (right) makes the most of the Visual Core.

Should you buy a Google Pixel 3a?

Whether you’re in the market for a Pixel 3, Galaxy S10, or OnePlus 7 Pro, you should give the Pixel 3a some serious consideration. It may technically be a mid-range phone, but it’s really hard to tell when using it. It’s plenty fast, takes great pictures, and has a killer price tag.

But you don’t have to think of it as a great alternative. Just think of it as a great phone that doesn’t cost a lot.

Google Pixel 3 Vs Pixel 3 Xl: What’S The Difference?

Our Verdict

Choosing between the Pixel 3 phones should be pretty easy because in general they’re very similar. If price doesn’t decide it for you then you really just need to choose whether you want a smaller phone without a notch or a larger phone with a bigger screen and a notch. The slightly larger battery can also be considered but it isn’t a big deal.

Best Prices Today: Google Pixel 3

Retailer

Price

$139.99

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As fully expected, and prolifically leaked, the Pixel 3 smartphones are official and you once again need to choose between the regular and XL models. So what are the differences? We compare the Google handsets to show you.

How much are the Pixel 3 phones?

Buying a phone will almost always depend on how much money you have to spend.

This year the Pixel 3 starts at  £739/$799 and if you want the Pixel 3 XL then you’re looking at £869/$899.

That’s a difference of £130 or $100 so a fair chunk of cash, especially if you’re buying SIM-free which is the only way we can compare the prices.

Here’s a table of the prices for all models:

 Pixel 3Pixel 3 XL64GB£739, $799£869, $899128GB£839, $899£969, $999

Are there any design differences?

As per usual, the Pixel 3 phones have a similar design and a now recognisable style that Google has created and stuck with.

Of course, the XL is a bigger phone so you’ll need to be ok with a device that it both taller and wider. Both are 7.9mm thin but the XL is heavier, of course, and weighs 184- compared to 148g.

The big difference here is that Google has opted to put a notch on the Pixel 3 XL but not the smaller model. It’s a very tall notch as well, so stands out more than most. It’s like this so it can house a speaker and two front facing cameras.

Plenty of design elements are the same including the new glass rear cover with a matt finish apart from the top section which houses the camera. Both carry an IPX8 waterproof rating.

There’s no headphone jack and the Pixel 3s are available in the same colours: Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink (above).

Does the Pixel 3 XL have better specs?

In a word, yes. However, there are not many differences between the regular Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL when it comes to the spec sheet.

On the whole, these phones are identical with the same Snapdragon 845 processor, storage options, cameras and a lot more – see the table below. There are only really two things that separate the two.

Screen

This is by far the main difference between the Pixel 3 phones.

On the one hand you have a 5.5in screen on the regular model that doesn’t have a notch and a Full HD+ resolution.

Meanwhile, the XL offers a Quad HD+ resolution but bigger factors – quite literally – are the larger 6.3in size and that somewhat in your face notch.

There’s no objective winner unless we dive into technicalities so you really just need to pick which one suits you on the above details.

Battery

As is typical, the bigger of the two phones has more space for a larger battery inside.

So the Pixel 3 XL has a 3430mAh battery compared to 2915mAh on the smaller model. It’s not the biggest of margins and the XL’s display will likely consume a little more power.

The additional battery life you might get from the XL won’t make as much of a difference compared to the other elements here.

Below is a detailed spec comparison of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

 Google Pixel 3Pixel 3 XLOperating SystemAndroid 9 Pie

Android 9 Pie

Display5.5in (1080 x 2160) 18:9 P-OLED, 443ppi6.3in (

1440 x 2960) 18.5:9 OLED, 523ppi

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

Memory4GB RAM

4GB RAM

Storage64/128GB non expandable

64/128GB non expandable

Primary Camera12.2Mp, f/1.8

12.2Mp, f/1.8

Front CameraDual 8Mp f/1.8 + 8Mp f/2.2 (wide-angle)

Dual 8Mp f/1.8 + 8Mp f/2.2 (wide-angle)

Video Recording

4K HDR @ 30fps

4K HDR @ 30fps

WiFi11ac dual-band

11ac dual-band

GPSYes

Yes

Bluetooth5.0 with aptX HD

5.0 with aptX HD

NFCYes

Yes

Fingerprint scannerYes, rear

Yes, rear

Wireless chargingYes

Yes

Colours

Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink

Just Black, Clearly White, Not Pink

Ports

USB-C

USB-C

WaterproofIPX8

IPX8

Dimensions

145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm

158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm

Weight148g184gBattery2915mAh3430mAh

Related stories for further reading Specs Google Pixel 3: Specs

5.5in Full-HD+ (2160×1080) 18:9 flexible OLED screen without notch, Gorilla Glass 5

Android 9.0 Pie

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor

Adreno 630 GPU

4GB RAM

64GB/128GB storage, no microSD support

12Mp f/1.8 rear camera with dual autofocus

8Mp + 8Mp, f/1.8 dual-selfie camera

Rear fingerprint sensor

IP68 waterproofing

USB-C 3.1

Qi wireless charging

2,915mAh battery

6×68.2×7.9mm

Available in Just Black, Clearly White and Not Pink

Troubleshooting Green Tinting On Google Pixel 4Xl Phones

Gamma calibration seems like something that should be left to NASA or even “Star Trek,” but Google Pixel 4XL users know very well that gamma calibration is the cause of their screen tinting problems. Ever since Google released its new Pixel lineup in 2023, 4XL users have reported the presence of a green-tinted screen whenever their phone is set to a low light level.

The problem lies in the display’s gamma calibration. Gamma calibration is how the system lights up your screen. Unlike Google’s standard Pixel 4, which uses an LG display, the 4XL uses the Samsung display. The Samsung display’s gamma calibration is not fully compatible with the 4XL’s 90Hz refresh rate. Therefore, when the light is low, users get a green tint. That is your underlying “why.”

Fixing the problem, therefore, requires a total recalibration to make the Samsung display work with the 90Hz refresh rate. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your refresh rate for the sake of a tint, so c’mon, Google! Fix the issue!

Green Tint Patch from Google

Okay, okay, they did!

In January 2023, Google announced that it developed a patch for the Pixel 4 and 4XL that ultimately resolves the green tint problem. If you haven’t updated your Pixel since 2023, you can download the OTA files here or update wirelessly on your phone. Users of the Pixel 4 aren’t experiencing the green tint problem like 4XL users are, but Google wanted to cover its bases and make sure the patch was available for both devices.

Try Using the CleanSlate Custom Kernel to Fix Green Tinting Problem

If you don’t trust the Google update or already use the CleanSlate custom kernel, XDA Recognized Developer by the username of tbalden took the green tint issue into his own hands. He has fixed this problem with a new version of his CleanSlate custom kernel. The update applies gamma corrections to the 90Hz calibration based on the 60Hz refresh rate calibration.

Other Troubleshooting Options to Fix Green Tinting Issue

Maybe you don’t want to download the patch because you just want to get a new phone? Perhaps you can live with the green? Perhaps you misheard that the Pixel 4 and 4XL are being discontinued?

If you want a new phone, then go get one. No reason to download the patch! If you can learn to love the green tint, more power to you! The green tint won’t harm your phone. And if you misheard about the discontinuation of the Pixel 4 models, it’s actually the Pixel 3 models that are no longer being made.

If, for whatever reason, you do not want to download the update that will solve your green tint problem, you can continue to troubleshoot.

Turn Off Night Light

Night Light is a feature on Pixel 4XL that makes it easier for your eyes to view the screen at night — or when it’s dark. The hue change can give the appearance of a color tint since it does tint the screen.

Tap Schedule. If you are running Night Light on your phone, you should see scheduled start and end times when it will activate/deactivate.

To disable Night Light, tap None next to Schedule.

Change Your Refresh Rate

Changing your refresh rate doesn’t necessarily troubleshoot the green tint problem, but rather hides it. The other benefit of improving the refresh rate on your phone includes more extended battery life. A higher refresh rate demands more power from your phone and can quickly drain the battery. Dropping it down to 60Hz is plenty of a fix for both problems.

In Smooth Display, you should see a toggle switch that controls the refresh rate. If it is toggled to the right, then the 90Hz refresh rate is enabled. Tap the switch to turn it off and bring it back down to 60Hz.

Now you’ve not only hidden the green screen tint, but you’ve also preserved your battery life!

Wrapping Up

It’s not easy being green, but luckily you don’t have to live with it. There are two great patches from which you can choose to solve the problem. And if you don’t want to download them, then, well, here’s to imperfect gamma calibration!

Meta Facebook Pixel Tracking With Google Tag Manager

The Facebook Pixel is a multi-purpose tool that helps you optimize your campaigns and analyze your audience data. You can enhance the Facebook Pixel by integrating it with Google Tag Manager, which makes tracking easy, consistent, and powerful.

There are three ways to install the Facebook Pixel tracking with Google Tag Manager, which we demonstrate in this complete training guide.

Intro

If you use the Facebook Pixel and haven’t integrated Google Tag Manager yet, it’s time to streamline your workflow and maximize your marketing power.

This tutorial will use a demo store running on WordPress and WooCommerce. We also use an almost-empty GTM Container, which is already implemented on this store using the free Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugin by Thomas Geiger.

Let’s dive in.

Tracking with Facebook Pixel (3 Methods)

In this post, we will cover three different methods to install the Facebook Pixel with Google Tag Manager. You can skip to the most relevant method if you know what you’re looking for, or you can read through to figure out which method will best suit your tracking needs.

The first method is automatic installation using the Facebook integration. It is the simplest and fastest, but it is quite limited in functionality: you can track pageviews, but not other types of events.

The second method is manual installation directly through Google Tag Manager. This is much more flexible and powerful, so we recommend it if you feel comfortable working with a little bit of code.

The final method uses Custom Tag Templates through Google Tag Manager’s Template Gallery. It is fast and easy, but still very customizable. Custom Templates are an incredibly user-friendly way to track all kinds of events.

1. Automated Facebook Pixel Installation Pros and Cons of Automated Installation

Before moving forward, let me tell you why I usually avoid this method.

When you authorize Google Tag Manager and verify it for Facebook, Facebook goes into Google Tag Manager and creates Tags and triggers on its own. It assigns triggers to the Tags and publishes your Container immediately.

If you have any changes or works-in-progress in your Container, or if someone else is already working in your Container, then you don’t want to publish it immediately to a website. Doing so can make things complicated, and possibly even break things that you already had in place.

If you already have Tags or triggers in your Container, you should skip ahead to a different method. I’d also recommend either of the other two methods for anyone who wants more customization and control.

But if you have an empty Container, this shouldn’t affect you. This method is still a great option if you don’t have a lot of time and you only want to track pageviews instead of events.

Install Facebook Pixel with Google Tag Manager

On our data sources page, we’ll select the pixel that we want to install.

Connect and Verify Google Tag Manager Account

Now, we will see a list of icons for different platforms and tools that already integrate with Facebook. Among these is Google Tag Manager.

Next, Facebook will try to help us set up some extra events, which we won’t worry about at the moment. For now, we just want to go back to Google Tag Manager and refresh our page so we can review the tags and see what Facebook has done.

And here in Google Tag Manager, we’ll see that the Facebook Pixel tag has already been created. The Workspace Changes in the upper-right corner are zero, which means the workspace has already been published.

This is another reason that I don’t really like the automatic installation method. It doesn’t give you much control or flexibility, and it auto-publishes a work-in-progress Container. This can cause confusion or complications later down the road, so be aware of it if you use this method.

2. Manual Facebook Pixel Installation

If you want more flexibility and more analytical power using your Facebook Pixel and Google Tag Manager, the manual installation method is the way to go.

When prompted, we’ll choose the second option in the popup: Manually add pixel code to website. 

Adding Pixel Code to All Pages

Because Google Tag Manager doesn’t already have any built-in Tags for Facebook, we need to build our own Custom Tag that can use our JavaScript code from Facebook.

Advanced Tip: Pixel Components

If you know JavaScript, you should always look over someone else’s code before you put it on your website. You might not change anything, but it’s good to know exactly what your code is doing. Most importantly, you may notice that Facebook’s code may break in certain cases.

To find out why, let’s take a closer look at the Facebook Pixel code.

Let’s start with the first part of the script segment,  from lines 3 to 10. We have a function, !function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s), for Facebook events. This will load a JavaScript library from Facebook’s servers.

Once the library is loaded, we have the pixel initiation code on line 11. fbq(‘init’ initiates the code, and the following number is your Facebook Pixel ID. This line of code uses the loaded library to activate your specific pixel on your page. When the Facebook Pixel is activated, it will listen to events, collect them, and report them to the Facebook Events Manager.

Line 12 is an event. It tells Facebook to track a pageview and send it to your activated pixel.

Since that looks good and we understand the code, we’ll check out the noscript portion next.

But the Google Tag Manager Container is made of JavaScript, and it executes Custom HTML when JavaScript is supported. So if you think you may have a lot of users whose browsers don’t support JavaScript,  you’ll want to take this piece of code out and put it in an image Tag instead.

So in this case, we’ll delete the noscript portion, which is lines 14 through 16 of the original HTML code. Our code should end up looking like this:

To be honest, this isn’t a super critical step. Most browsers support JavaScript, and for those that don’t, your website probably won’t function correctly anyway. However, it’s certainly something to be aware of so that you can support users when they encounter problems.

Testing Testing with Preview & Debug Mode

Let’s go to our website and refresh the page there to preview the Container. If everything is working, you will see that the Tags fired both in your Google Tag Manager bar and in the Facebook Pixel Helper. (If you don’t have the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome extension, we recommend it! Get it here.)

Testing with Facebook Pixel Helper Extension

If we investigate the Facebook Pixel Helper, we can see that a pageview event has been fired and that some microdata has been automatically detected.

Under the pageview dropdown, there’s some information about the pageview. You’ll find information like the recorded URL, the pixel code, and pixel location.

Top Tip: How “Microdata Automatically Detected” Works

The blue lightning icon identifies automatically-detected events in Facebook Pixel Helper. The green checkmark icon identifies events that we set up and fire ourselves using Google Tag Manager.

Testing with Facebook Test Events

Refresh your shop page, then come back to the Facebook Events Manager. If events are being properly recorded and sent to Facebook, you’ll see a pageview with the URL of the page you just refreshed.

Event Debugging

Select the pixel that you’re currently using.

Once you’ve found this solution, it may be tempting to just rely on Facebook’s automatic microdata detection for all of your event tracking instead of manually setting up a bunch of events through Google Tag Manager. This is a really bad idea for your analytics.

It’s always better to manually set up tracking for events that are important to us. If you want to use events data to set up conversion tracking or to create Custom Audiences, you need your data to be as reliable as possible. The best way to make sure that information is being recorded the way you want is to set it up yourself.

Custom Event Pixel Installation

Now, if you only want pageviews to be tracked to your Facebook Pixel, you can stop here. You can use pageviews in the Facebook Events Manager to create a few Custom Conversions, create Custom Audiences, and run Remarketing Ads.

But the Facebook Pixel can do so much more for you beyond tracking pageviews.

Basically, the possibilities are endless when you include events in your Facebook Pixel tracking. Let’s learn how to implement this valuable tool.

What Kind of Events Can You Track on Your Website?

There are two types of events that we can track to a Facebook Pixel: Standard Events and Custom Events.

We can also still track other events even if Facebook doesn’t recognize them as Standard Events. For example, if we want to track users that spend five seconds on our landing page, we can configure a custom user interaction event.

Some possibilities for creating Custom Facebook Events include:

Time on Site

Scroll Tracking

Element Visibility

We can create these kinds of Custom Events and more. And if you used manual installation or Custom Tag Templates to implement your Facebook Pixel, it’s not as hard as you might think. Let’s learn how.

Step-by-Step: Setup Event Tracking

To track events, we’ll start in Google Tag Manager. Remember that we can’t set up event tracking this way if you used the automated installation process, but it’s pretty easy if you used either manual installation or Custom Templates.

The first thing we need to do is split our Facebook Base Pixel code into two parts. Our goal is to  separate the initiation part of this pixel from the first event, which is the pageview.

This is because we want to track more events different from the pageview. Those events will also require the Base Pixel to be initiated; otherwise, they won’t function correctly.

So the sequence is like this: the Facebook Pixel must be initiated before an event can fire in order to pick up that event and report it to Facebook. We only need execute the Base Pixel once, but as long as it initiates first, it will record every other event that fires on a page.

When you open the Tag configuration settings, you’ll be able to directly edit the HTML code. We need to take out the Facebook pageview tracking code and add it to its own Tag.

Next, we’ll create a new Tag to host the pageview section that we just cut out of the Base Pixel code. Name it something like FB – Pageview and choose Custom HTML as the Tag type. 

Now we have both the Facebook Base Pixel and the pageview event firing separately on all pages. However, we have to find a way to ensure that Facebook’s Base Pixel always fires before the pageview event.

When we see our Tags in the dashboard like this, we have no way of knowing this because Google Tag Manager fires Tags asynchronously. It is not possible to tell which one fires first and which one fires second on the default settings.

So our next order of business is assigning an order of firing to these two Tags. We have two possible solutions to this problem.

Method 1: Firing Priority

The first way is called Tag firing priority. By default, the firing priority of each Tag is zero. We can assign a priority using any integer, with the highest value firing first and the lowest value firing last.

This works for some situations, but we’re not going to use it in this tutorial. Tag firing priority ensures that Tags fire in a certain order, but it doesn’t guarantee that a Tag will finish its execution before the next Tag is initiated.

This means that it is possible for your pageview Tag to fire before your Base Pixel Tag has finished executing. If this happens, the pageview Tag won’t be picked up or reported to the Facebook Pixel, and you will lose tracking data.

Method 2 (Recommended): Tag Sequencing

So we will use the second method, which is Tag sequencing. With Tag sequencing, we can assign an order to Tag firing, and Google Tag Manager will ensure that the first Tag has been fired and executed completely before it fires the next Tag.

These settings allow you to choose Tags that either must precede or must follow your Tag. Since the Base Pixel must be initiated before the pageview Tag, the Base Pixel is called a set-up Tag. You will need the Base Pixel to be selected as a set-up Tag for any events that you want tracked by the Facebook Pixel.

In this case, I recommend checking the box to not fire your current Tag if the set-up Tag fails. If the Facebook Base Pixel fails to execute, there is no way the pageview Tag’s HTML code will work on its own. It doesn’t know where to send data, and there is no base Tag to listen for this event.

Okay, so that’s it. So we’ve set up Tag sequencing to ensure that Facebook Base Pixel always fires and finishes execution before the Facebook pageview Tag.

Set Base Pixel Tag to Fire Once per Page

For all of those events, we also need to set our Facebook Base Pixel as the set-up Tag. If we change nothing else, then our Base Pixel Tag will fire multiple times—once for each event that uses it as a set-up Tag.

This is inefficient. If the pixel is initiated already, it should pick up all following event Tags, and we don’t want it to fire extra times.

Now Facebook Base Pixel will fire just once per each page, and it will finish executing before any other event Tag fires on that page. Even if another event has defined the Base Pixel Tag as its set-up Tag, Base Pixel will fire just once per page.

Set Up Facebook Standard Event Tag

Let’s set up a new Standard Event to go with our fully-functional Base Pixel and pageview Tags. Since our demo page is a shop, let’s use Facebook’s Add To Cart Standard Event for our Tag.

Create Add-to-Cart Button Trigger

Refresh your Container so that your trigger is live. Now, we can make a Tag for this trigger that will be reported to the Facebook Pixel.

Let’s name this FB – Add To Cart. Since add to cart is a Standard Facebook Event, we only have to edit the HTML code by replacing  PageView with AddToCart (again, these are case-sensitive).

Testing

We should also be able to see our add-to-cart Tag in the Facebook Events Manager. We can tell that Facebook has recognized the Tag as a Standard Event because of the shopping cart icon next to the name instead of a Custom Event icon. 

Set Up Facebook Custom Event Tag

Now that we can add a Standard Facebook Event, let’s set up a Custom Event for the Facebook Pixel to track. This time, we’re going to add an event that tracks when a user spends at least five seconds on a page, which can be more informative than a pageview.

Create New Tag

Again, we want to use the Custom HTML Tag type for this event. However, because this isn’t a Standard Facebook Event, we need to replace ‘track’ in the code with ‘trackCustom’. Then we’ll name our event in the code ‘5-Seconds’.

We also need to make sure our Tag sequencing is set up properly. Assign your Base Pixel Tag to execute as a set-up Tag before our timer Tag. Remember that we don’t want to fire this Tag if the Base Pixel set-up Tag fails, since this Tag will function incorrectly without the Base Pixel.

Create and Apply Timer Trigger

Let’s name our trigger Timer – 5 Seconds and select Timer for the trigger type. For the timer to count down five seconds, enter 5000 in the Interval field since it asks for milliseconds.

We only need this trigger to fire once per page, so set the Limit to 1. I want this trigger to fire in all pages and situations, so we will write this as Event matches RegEx .*

Testing

Okay, let’s go back to the website, refresh the page, and see what happens.

In Google Tag Manager, we have our five seconds event, our Base Pixel, and our Facebook pageview. The Facebook Pixel Helper shows the pageview, the five seconds, and some microdata.

Refresh your website page, then wait for the Tag to fire and appear here in Facebook Events Manager. If everything is debugged and working properly, you will see your five seconds Custom Event here.

Top Tip: The Multi-Pixel Problem

So far, we have only used one Facebook Base Pixel. But sometimes you might need more than one Base Pixel to fire on a single page.

But each of these pixels accounts should initiate their own Base Pixel for the events they track to function properly.

Now, if we preview the Container and refresh the page, you’ll see in the Facebook Pixel Helper that we have two pixels initiated on this page. Each pixel detected the pageview and five second timer, but it seems that the pageview fired before the second Base Pixel finished executing.

Facebook will say here that they detected the pageview event code, but no pixel was activated for it. This data gets especially confusing because the five second timer was still recorded by the second Base Pixel, since it had time to finish executing before the event fired.

So you can already see that lots of things can go wrong when we have multiple pixels. Some Tags may fire before the Base Pixel finishes loading, some Tags might fire to all pixels instead of just one, or some of Tags could fail to fire to the pixel that they were supposed to find.

The Solution

Okay, so what’s the solution? We’ll have to rely on the code ‘trackSingle’.

If you take another look at our event tracking code, the piece from Facebook starts with fbq(‘track’,. We can change this to fbq(‘trackSingle’, which tells this event to find a single, specific pixel.

Now the page view event will only fire to our first Base Pixel. You can make this same modification to most other event Tags using whatever Pixel ID you need.

There is a slight modification for Custom Events. For Custom Events like our five-second timer, we need to use the code ‘trackSingleCustom’, to send the event to a single pixel.

To demonstrate how to test this, I have modified the pageview, add to cart, and five-second timer to track exclusively to our first Base Pixel, even though we will have both Base Pixels initiated.

Let’s refresh the Container, go back to our website, and refresh the page. All three Tags have been recorded to just the first pixel. You can change the HTML code for your Tags to send any event to different pixels without doubling them up or losing data.

3. Custom Tag Template

Our third method of installing the Facebook Pixel with Google Tag Manager uses Custom Tag Templates. This is a newer but incredibly useful technique that combines flexibility, power, and ease of use.

What Are Custom Tag Templates?

In 2023, Google Tag Manager introduced a new feature called Custom Templates. Custom Templates function for users basically the same as built-in Tags from Google Tag Manager.

But the difference is that anyone can create a Tag Template and share it with others via the Community Template Gallery. This means that you have access to a huge pool of experts who are solving current problems in real time.

Why Use Them? No Base Pixel Needed

The beauty of Custom Tag Templates is that they can automate Tag firing priorities, sequencing, and frequency. Manual installation requires setting each of these up yourself for every individual Tag, and in the case of the Facebook Pixel, this includes an additional Base Pixel Tag.

A Template simplifies this process and eliminates the need for a Base Pixel Tag. The Template we use in this tutorial ensures that the Facebook Base Pixel initiates before each event that you want to record. It also won’t fire extra times or before any other events. 

In other words, you just have to create Tags for the specific events you want to track. Everything else is configured automatically to make sure that the Facebook Pixel and Google Tag Manager work together.

Easy Multiple Pixel Set Up

The other nice feature of the Custom Template we use in this tutorial is that the default setting is to track single. The Tag configuration includes your Facebook Pixel ID as part of the setup, so it only fires the event to that specific ID. You can easily include multiple IDs to receive tracking data from a single Tag, or you can send different Tags to different pixel IDs.

Add Tag Template to Your Account

Now, let’s go to Google Tag Manager and start using Custom Templates.

In this tutorial, we’ll be using Simo Ahava’s Facebook Pixel Tag Template, which quickly and easily implements the Facebook Pixel using Google Tag Manager. Simo Ahava contributes a lot of high-quality Templates to the community library, and he shares a lot of knowledge about Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics on his blog. Check out his work if you’re interested in more creative solutions!

To find this Template, you can search for it by name: Facebook Pixel. The creator will be listed as gtm-templates-simo-ahava.

This is also where you can investigate who built the Template you want to make sure that you trust it. Google is pretty good about vetting Community Template Gallery submissions, but always do your reading just in case.

Set Up Facebook Pageview Tag

Working with this Custom Tag Template is really easy. Let’s create a new Tag and see just how simple it is.

First, let’s give our new Tag a name. I use “CT” here for “Custom Template.” Select the Custom Template that we just added, and enter your Facebook Pixel ID. For now, select Standard for our event and choose PageView from the dropdown (we’ll look at Custom Events in a moment).

Now that we have a pageview Tag set up with our Custom Template, let’s test it on our website. Refresh the Container, then go to your website and refresh the page.

If everything is configured correctly, Google Tag Manager and the Facebook Pixel Helper will show that our Facebook Pixel Custom Template Tag has fired. Just like that, we have a fully-functioning Tag using a Custom Template.

To demonstrate how easy it is to expand your setup, let’s make two more Tags: one Standard Event and one Custom Event.

Next, we’ll copy this Tag again to set up a Custom Event. Let’s make a Tag that records when a user has been on a page for at least five seconds.

In Google Tag Manager and the Facebook Pixel Helper, we should see our Tags recorded for the pageview, five seconds of viewing, and add to cart.

Extra Features

Now before we wrap up this tutorial, I want to show you two other features that this particular Custom Tag Template has that are difficult to accomplish through manual tracking.

Disable Automatic Configuration

Under More Settings in our Tag configuration, we can disable the automatic configuration. This disables the Facebook Pixel’s ability to automatically collect metadata, which you saw labeled as microdata in the Facebook Pixel Helper.

Wait for GDPR Consent Option

This Custom Template also has a setting that allows you to hold an event from being fired until the user gives tracking consent. You will notice that the initial setting for this field is True.

If you set it to False, it means that by default, we do not assume that the user has consented to be tracked by Facebook. In this case, the Tag will fire but it will not be executed; it will wait until another Tag with consent granted (set to True) fires.

This is really good for compliance purposes, especially with GDPR when you need to get users’ explicit consent before doing any marketing tracking.

Creating FB Custom Conversion Using Events

Let’s take a quick look on how we can use the events you’ve tracked in the Facebook Events Manager to create Custom Conversions.

FAQ How do I create a Custom Event Tag, such as a timer for tracking when a user spends at least five seconds on a page?

To create a Custom Event Tag like a timer for tracking user engagement, you need to create a trigger that fires after a certain time interval. In Google Tag Manager, create a trigger with a timer type and set the interval to five seconds. Configure the trigger to fire once per page. Then, create a new Tag with the HTML code for the Custom Event, assign the trigger to it, and save the settings.

How do I create a new Standard Event Tag, such as the “Add To Cart” event, with Google Tag Manager and the Facebook Pixel? How do I set up Tag sequencing for the Facebook Pixel with Google Tag Manager?

To set up Tag sequencing, open the configuration settings of your pageview Tag in Google Tag Manager. Under Advanced Settings, enable Tag Sequencing and select the Base Pixel Tag as the set-up Tag. Additionally, you can choose to not fire the pageview Tag if the Base Pixel fails. Save the settings to set up Tag sequencing.

How can I ensure accurate event tracking when using multiple Facebook Pixels?

When using multiple Facebook Pixels, it is crucial to specify the pixel that each event Tag should be sent to. To do this, modify the event tracking code by replacing fbq('track') with fbq('trackSingle') and include the ID of the specific pixel inside single quotes followed by a comma. This ensures that the event is sent only to the designated pixel. Make the same modification for Custom Events by using fbq('trackSingleCustom'). By doing so, you can avoid issues where Tags fire to the wrong pixels or duplicate data.

What are Custom Tag Templates in Google Tag Manager, and why should I use them for implementing the Facebook Pixel?

Custom Tag Templates are a feature in Google Tag Manager that allow users to create and share Tag Templates with others. They automate Tag firing priorities, sequencing, and frequency, simplifying the implementation process. When using Custom Tag Templates for the Facebook Pixel, you don’t need a separate Base Pixel Tag, as the Template takes care of initiating the Facebook Base Pixel and ensuring proper Tag firing.

Summary

In this tutorial, we covered three different methods of Facebook Pixel tracking via Google Tag Manager.

The first one was automatic installation. This is remarkably quick and easy to set up. It’s limited in its tracking capabilities and can disrupt a Container-in-progress, but it’s great for pageview tracking if you have an empty Container.

The second one was manual installation. This method is the most powerful and customizable, but it can be challenging to execute. There are a lot of small, detailed steps to set up and test things like Tag sequencing and tracking with multiple pixels. It may not be for the faint of heart, but if you’re comfortable working with Google Tag Manager, you can customize it exactly how you want.

The third and final method was using Simo Ahava’s Custom Tag Template. It grants just as much flexibility and power as manual installation, but it is much quicker and easier to set up. Custom Templates are the most user-friendly way to track all kinds of events with the Facebook Pixel.

There’s always more to learn with the Facebook Pixel! If you want to learn a few more tricks, check out these tutorial posts:

Review: Google Chromebook Pixel Is An Expensive Curiosity

Google’s Chromebook Pixel is an idea. It describes Google’s vision of a high-end laptop for citizens of a future world, freed from the encumbrances of old-style computer operating systems, existing entirely on the Web.

The Chromebook Pixel is also a product, starting at $1299 (I reviewed the $1449 version, with 4G networking). It’s as solidly built and generously appointed as any laptop you’ll find, but it runs only the Chrome web browser, not Apple’s Mac OS X or Microsoft’s Windows.

Reigniting the Chromebook debate

As an idea sprung from Google’s view of the future of technology, the Chromebook Pixel is intriguing, even intoxicating. But it’s hard to fathom how it works as a real-world product.

If nothing else, it’s reignited the Chromebook debate. Within the editorial team here, some editors wonder what the Chromebook’s point is, while others say that Chromebook’s critics are missing the point. Meanwhile, tech legend Linus Torvalds came out in favor of the Chromebook Pixel. Reasonable people are disagreeing, and thanks to the Pixel, Chromebooks are suddenly getting a lot of attention again.

Google’s vision: gorgeous

If the Chromebook Pixel is Google’s vision of what a laptop should be, the company has, if nothing else, proven it has good taste in hardware design. If there were an Apple logo on the top, nobody would be surprised. As a longtime user of Apple laptops, I felt right at home when I opened up the Chromebook Pixel for the first time.

GoogleThe Chromebook Pixel’s brushed-aluminum design would fit right in at an Apple store.

This is a solid, aluminum-bodied laptop. At 3.35 pounds, it sits between the 2.96-pound 13-inch MacBook Air and the 3.57-pound 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The Chromebook Pixel is dominated by its large, high-resolution display. It’s a bright, glass-covered panel, with a resolution of 2560 by 1700 pixels and a density of 239 pixels per inch (ppi). Like the Retina MacBook Pro (whose density of 227 ppi is imperceptibly lower), this is a screen so good that you simply can’t see the pixels. Photos are fantastically detailed, and text is crisp. The screen has an aspect ratio of 3:2, which makes it taller than most recent laptops. Given that extra height is more valuable than extra width on most web pages, it’s a good decision.

GoogleThe Chromebook Pixel’s high-resolution display is so good you simply can’t see the pixels.

The display is also a touchscreen—a curious design decision given Chrome OS is still largely a mouse-driven interface. We’ve all become so trained in the gestures of touchscreen interfaces, however, that it’s become almost second nature to reach out and tap on a screen from time to time. As long as you’re reaching over a keyboard, a touchscreen is never going to be a primary input method on a laptop. But it’s a nice addition to the trackpad.

When using the Pixel’s touchscreen to swipe between images on the 500px Chrome app, I noticed that scrolling seemed laggy when I used my finger, but crisp when I used the keyboard. Part of this is, I think, psychological: When you move your finger, you expect the content underneath your finger to move along with it. But that’s not all of it: When I touched an arrow key, the app scrolled to the next picture much more smoothly than it did when I swiped. The UI just wasn’t measuring up. The overall experience left the touchscreen seeming at times surprisingly inferior to the keyboard.

Melissa RiofrioIn the 500px app, moving through photos seemed faster using the keyboard than the touchscreen.

The Pixel’s trackpad is a large black, glass multitouch model comparable to those found on Apple’s laptops, and its backlit keyboard is similarly Apple-like. There’s no standard set of function keys at the top, though–instead, there’s a bar of buttons used to control brightness, volume, and similar features.

Ports are minimal. The Pixel has two USB 2.0 ports (not 3.0, sadly), a Mini DisplayPort for video out, a standard headphone jack, and an SD card slot.

Higher-end Pixel includes Verizon LTE

The higher-end Pixel is made for cloud-based computing. Consider the 64GB of solid-state storage to be just in case. Onboard storage is really not the point of this device, but it’s actually hard even to find it in Chrome OS: Files is just another icon in the app dock. More important is the integrated 4G networking, which comes with two years of Verizon LTE service and 100MB per month of data. My Pixel connected to Verizon’s LTE network automatically whenever it couldn’t find a local Wi-Fi hotspot. With the exception of a couple of airplane flights I was able to use the Web anytime, anywhere. The $1299 version of the Pixel has just 32GB of storage and no 4G.

Chrome OS is the brains behind the beauty

As accomplished as the Chromebook Pixel’s hardware is, it can’t be judged on its own. The hardware works in concert with its software–in this case, Google’s Chrome OS.

GoogleEverything in Chrome happens in a browser tab.

Chrome OS is a bold move by Google to move beyond traditional operating systems. Everything–and I mean everything–in Chrome OS happens in a browser tab. Even hardware settings (such as shutting down wireless networking before boarding a plane) are controlled via a panel inside a browser tab.

The idea here is that, for a lot of people, the Web is all that’s really necessary. If you’ve traded Word for Google Docs and Outlook for Gmail, you may find that the experience of using your computer has narrowed into one that’s almost entirely in a browser. Why not dump the rest of that junk and just embrace the browser?

I love the sentiment, but I don’t think most prospective laptop buyers–especially prospective purchasers of a laptop as pricey as the Chromebook Pixel–will find that their lives are Web-centric enough to make the shift. If all Web apps were as good as Google’s, there would be a stronger case. Spending a couple of days using Twitter’s website rather than a native Twitter client made me want to pull my hair out.

This is not to say that Chrome OS can’t run truly offline apps. Though the Web was originally intended for online work, Google has done a great job of making its apps work offline. I’m writing this paragraph offline, in Google Docs, at 40,000 feet. (Granted, it took me quite a while to figure out how to enable offline access for Google Docs, since it’s turned on for all Google Apps for Domains users by default.)

Chrome is a great browser, but Chrome OS shows a lot of gaps when it leaves its comfort zone.

The problem is that some stuff just doesn’t work offline. If you’re never offline–never in a wireless dead spot or on an airplane or in a foreign country with incompatible wireless service–that won’t matter. Again, I’d wager that for most people this will be an issue, at least for a while.

Melissa Riofrio Chrome OS has a nice dock where you can pin frequently used apps, but it doesn’t really work right.

Tabs, tabs everywhere

The Chromebook Pixel is as well-built a laptop as you’ll see. The body is solid, and the screen is something to behold.

GoogleThe Chromebook Pixel is a sleek, exciting iteration of Google’s vision of the future of computing. And it’s incredibly expensive.

The problem is in the price and the operating system. At roughly the same price, you can buy an Apple laptop or an Ultrabook PC that provides roughly the same specs, runs Chrome, and also runs your favorite computer operating system with apps and games and Dropbox syncing and everything else you’ve come to expect from a laptop.

The Chromebook ideal isn’t real–yet

As the resident of a stripped-down laptop offered for a stripped-down price, Chrome OS makes some sort of sense, but on a high-end laptop such as this, I have a hard time seeing who would want one. Sure, there are users who have completely embraced the Web and simply don’t need the hassle of OS chrome and security updates and the like, but how many of those people are in the market for a laptop whose cheapest version is $1299?

As an idea, Chromebook Pixel has a lot going for it. It’s an iteration of Google’s vision of the future of computing, and it’s sleek and exciting. But as a product, it’s just not practical. There are better laptops and cheaper laptops and better, cheaper laptops. The Chromebook Pixel augurs days to come, but in the present it’s just an expensive curiosity.

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