Conversion Tracking: Postback URLs vs Image Pixels vs Javascript Pixels

How are your marketing campaigns doing? Without setting up conversion tracking, you won’t know. Because you don’t have any performance metrics to make value judgments.

Google AdWords has a conversion tracking tool that allows you to see what a prospect does after clicking on your ad. You can check if your ads are leading to profitable customer activities. As per Builtwith, only 18.9% of the Quantcast top 10k websites are using it, though.

In this article, I’ll talk about the conversion tracking pixel and how to set up your conversion tracking system.

3 Ways To Set Up Conversion Tracking

So a user visited your website and copied your content to another web page. Or maybe a user liked your email and forwarded it to his friend.

If you can track such user activities, then you can send more targeted and relevant messages.

If you have used even a basic analytics software, then you’ve probably already seen such tracked data of the visitors.

So how are these activities tracked?

Web beacons (or tracking pixels) are a common method. They are small 1 x 1 pixel transparent graphic images inserted on web pages or in the content of emails (using the <img> tag) to track user behavior. You can get deeper insights from the beacon including the IP Address of the prospect’s computer, the browser they are using and the duration for which the beacon was viewed. There are also other methods, such as postback URLs. Let’s take a look at these possible implementations of conversion tracking.

1. Postback URLs

This is a form of cookie-less tracking. It won’t require you to modify the thank you or confirmation pages. You won’t need to tinker with the user’s browser. Rather, the advertiser’s server records the clicks and conversions generated. If a conversion occurs, then the advertiser fires a postback with a transaction ID (or affiliate ID in occasional cases). The merchant server can then store data for that conversion.

Since the transaction ID is unique, any duplicate conversions that happen accidentally due to server crashes and user actions won’t be recorded.

Generally, affiliate networks use this form of tracking. They will click on the postback URL to tell the merchant server that a conversion has occurred.

Pros

1. It doesn’t require you to copy and paste a piece of code.

2. There are no issues related to cookie tracking being denied by the user or expiring after certain time. It’s the most accurate form of tracking.

Cons

1. You need to review how the affiliate/merchant manages their tracking. Mostly, large affiliates have a proper system in place.

2. Image Pixels

This method depends on the user’s browser. It’s the simplest form of tracking and one of the most robust ways to get started with.

Once a user clicks on the tracking link, a cookie is placed in his browser and a transaction ID is generated for the session. Next, the user is redirected to the offer’s landing page. If the conversion happens, then the offer pixel on the advertiser’s page pulls info about the session from the user’s browser. After validating the conversion, the info is added to the report.

Pros

1. You only need to place the offer pixel on the conversion page. And extracting information from the cookies in the browser is easy.

2. It’s the industry standard (when we say conversion pixel, an image pixel is assumed by default).

Cons

1. Your tracking is based on the assumption that the user hasn’t blocked cookies or made changes to his browser settings or cleared his cookies. If the user has done so, a legitimate conversion won’t get recorded.

2. The app store won’t work with cookie-based tracking. So you can’t implement this form on tracking on mobile apps.

3. Javascript Pixels

They are embedded into webpages using the <script> tag. It’s a JS file that can track the page a user came from, the time he spent on the page, and other granular details besides the number of page hits.

Pros

1. This pixel can track richer details about the visitors including their searched keywords, browser plugins, screen resolutions, and more. Generally, it performs better than the image pixel.

2. If you add a script in the header section, then the tag is downloaded before the website loads. So this ensures that the user is tracked if they see the website.

Cons

1. If Java isn’t enabled in the user’s browser, then the tracking won’t work. If you’re targeting technical users that don’t want to be tracked, then this pixel isn’t a good choice.

2. If the tracking site is slow, then it can affect your website’s performance. The Good Group have found that accumulation of tracking pixels can lead to slow loading time. And every second of delay can lead to $75k yearly revenue loss for an eCommerce site that generates $1m per year.

How To Use Conversion Pixels With The Titan Platform

Do you want to set up automatic optimization or track conversions on the Titan platform? Then you’ll need to add the Native Ads pixel to the head section of your website’s HTML.

Where will you find the pixel code?

First, log into your account. Now, you can either get a pixel by navigating to “My Websites”, or you can find the option in the “Campaign Optimization” step of setting up a campaign. You’ll need to enter your website name and website URL, and the system will send you the pixel via email. When you receive the email, you’ll need to copy the code in it and paste it into your website’s HTML code, in the Head section. For more information, you can check out this article.

conversion tracking titan screenshot

Which conversion tracking system are you using in your campaigns?

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Written by Chintan Zalani

Chintan Zalani's work has been published in major international newspapers, blogs and websites namely Times of India, Aol Huffington Media’s CoolAge.in, Android Authority, AdPushup, ShoutmeLoud and LinkOLogy.