What is a tracking pixel? Everything you need to know about this technology.
Is it happened with you also? You are looking for a cheap tablet, then you go to your facebook account, refreshing the wall and you are getting tons of ads with cheap tablets. You are asking to yourself, why it happened? You had no tablet ads before? Well, it's most probably because of tracking pixels. Of course, this one is not only applicable for cheap tablets, but anything you can imagine. Most of the well developed websites has these tracking pixels implemented. Let's see what is hiding behind this relatively new technology.
What is a Tracking Pixel?
Marketing pixels, aka tracking pixels, are essentially these tiny snippets of code that allow you to assemble information about visitors on a websiteâhow they browse, what style of ads they click on, etc.
It's source code is most usually looks like this:
How does a tracking pixel work
The website operator or sender of an email adds the tracking pixel employing a code within the website's HTML code or email. This code contains an external link to the pixel server. If a user visits the destination website, the HTML code is processed by the client - usually the user's browser. The browser follows the link and opens the (invisible) graphic. this is often registered and noted within the server's log files.
The following data will be acquired and analyzed with a tracking pixel.
l Type of client used, for instance a browser or mail program.
l IP address (gives information on the web Service Provider and location)
l Client's screen resolution
l Time the e-mail was read or website was visited
l Operating system used (gives information on the employment of mobile devices)
l Type of website or email used, as an example on mobile or desktop
l Activities on the web site during a session (when using multiple tracking pixels)
Example of a Facebook Pixel
This behavior data helps you, as a marketer, send the user paid ads that are likely to be most interesting to them. Tracking pixels also are accustomed measure a marketing campaign's performance, track conversions, and build an audience base.
Now that you simply have a general overview of what a pixel is, let's speak about the various styles of pixels. Don't stress an excessive amount of though, there are only 2 that you just actually need to fret about.
Retargeting pixels are focused solely on the behavior of your website's visitors.
For example, let's say you're shopping online for brand spanking new furniture then you go onto a completely different website, like Facebook, and see that every one of the pop-up ads are furniture related.
That's how retargeting pixels work. They're basically monitoring your behavior so as to tailor paid ads they think will catch your attention on other websites.
A conversion pixel comes into play once a sale has actually been made. they're chargeable for tracking sales from a particular ad blitz.
Configuring a Facebook Conversion Pixel
In order to collect correct data, conversion pixels have to be placed within the code of an order confirmation page like an automatic âThank Youâ you sometimes find in your inbox after buying something.
Conversion pixels also allow marketers to spot the source of their conversions and measure the success or failure of specific campaigns.
Inserting a tracking pixel
Depending on the system, the installation of a tracking pixel differs. Sometimes this will be done via the content management system used, sometimes the pixel must be implemented directly within the ASCII text file of the e-mail or website.
Usually, the net analysis tools that need the implementation of the pixel, like Facebook or Google Analytics, offer extensive implementation instructions.
Criticism of tracking pixels
Tracking pixels are often criticized by data protection advocates because they collect comprehensive data about the user, mostly without knowledge of the user. because the tracking pixel can not be seen with the eye, and also the common user doesn't recognize the meaning of the little graphic even when it's visible, the tracking pixel involves a transfer of data without consent. supported this, critics argue that with tracking pixels, user privacy is violated through the recording of a motion profile. The transmission of the IP address also makes it possible to match information to other information on the web, e.g., to a profile in an exceedingly social network or forum.
Tracking pixels also simplify the work of spammers. Spammers can integrate tracking pixels in their spam mails so as to search out out if an email address is valid. If the recipient opens the e-mail and thereby loads the automated tracking pixel, the spammer receives a confirmation of the authenticity of the e-mail address. As a result, the sending of spam messages increases.
Data protection and tracking pixels
According to GDPR, users must be told that an internet site collects data. Users even have to be ready to object to the tracking.
Advantages of tracking pixels
The use of tracking pixels is useful for website operators, SEOs and email senders. this is often because they'll use the knowledge generated to boost their online offers, make them more user-friendly, and adapt the offers to the foremost commonly used browser types and versions.
Tracking pixels also can be beneficial within the analysis of sent email newsletters, because they show the opening rates of certain emails or newsletters through the user statistics data. along with A/B tests, successful campaigns can thus be determined. From the recipient's point of view, this has the advantage that newsletters within the future is designed to be more relevant and interesting.
Countermeasures for users
There are variety of how during which users can prevent their data being collected by tracking pixels:
Set browser and email settings to be as restrictive as possible specified external graphics are only supported after permission, and HTML emails aren't supported. Appropriate firewall settings also can be wont to try this.
Some browser extensions will be accustomed make tracking pixels visible.
Anonymous surfing with the Tor Browser or use of proxy servers to stop the download of tracking pixels.
In order to forestall the gathering of additional user data like browser type or software, the support of scripts within the browser are often deactivated. However, this will restrict other functions on the net under certain circumstances.
Importance for web analytics, advertising and SEO
Tracking pixels generally have similar functionalities as cookies. The tracks of the user are recorded by a file that's saved within the user's disc drive. However, more and more users are nowadays taking on measures to dam cookies using the browser functions. Cookies therefore often provide incomplete data, and their use is now and then blocked completely.
The tracking pixel is is used as an alternate to the cookie as its use can not be blocked by a standard browser. Even so, several browser extensions, plugins, and programs that enable blocking of tracking pixels and hence prevent a log file analysis exist. Tracking methods like Canvas Fingerprinting, Event Tracking, or different hybrid methods also are getting used increasingly and like all tracking models, comprehensive changes to the websites are necessary - e.g., in data protection. additionally, user consent to permit the tracking with pixels must be obtained.
Unfortunately, the utilization of tracking pixels isn't popular everyone. Data protection advocates frown on this marketing tool because it gathers extensive information a couple of user without their knowledge.
Critics argue that pixels violate user privacy and permit spammers to more easily access personal data.
That's why it's important to grant your users the choice to cop out.
Once you've familiarized yourself with the function of tracking pixels, it's important to own some key strategies in situ before getting started.
Be selective and intentional along with your pixel usage. Quality over quantity is very important here. Attaching pixels to each single user for each page they visit is overkill
Be cautious of tracking pixel frequencies. they'll weigh down your site, and slow load times are the simplest thanks to ensure users will leave your page
Keep your targeted campaigns in mind. There's no have to waste tracking pixels on demographics you're not aiming for
Respect a user's privacy and permit them to prefer of tracking if they choose
Size does not matters here :)
By that, I mean tracking pixels may well be a teeny tiny, practically invisible piece of technology, but they play a large role in our current and future digital marketing landscape.
Never underestimate the facility of the pixel!