Have you ever noticed a banner ad ‘following’ you as you browse the internet? If so, you’ve seen first-hand the power (or poor execution, depending on the frequency and quality of the ad) of a tracking pixel.
These pint-sized powerhouses are frequently misunderstood, even by digital creative agencies. When used the right way, they can transform your next campaign, optimize your website and boost conversions. Let’s look at some frequently asked questions about tracking pixels.
What is a tracking pixel?
Tracking pixels are exactly what they sound like: tiny, transparent, pixel-sized images embedded in everything from emails to banner ads during Digital Banner Production. Tracking pixels are also known as web bugs, beacons, tracking bugs, page tags and more.
These tiny trackers are the darlings of the web analytic crowd, due to their effectiveness in capturing useful data. They enable companies to track website visits, digital ad impressions, email opens, sales conversions and other types of activity on the web.
If you’re using a web service that doesn’t provide enough data, tracking pixels are the perfect way to get all the analytic details you need.
Incorporating tracking pixels into your content is part of digital production process, so make sure your digital creative agency is familiar with the technology.
What is tracking pixel technology most used for?
Tracking pixel technology allows services like Google Analytics to tell companies how many people have visited their site. In the world of digital display advertising, tracking pixels are used so that advertisers know how many people have seen their digital ad, or visited a website.
When users take a certain action – visiting a site, opening emails, viewing your digital ad, etc. – they send a request to the server to download the tracking pixel attached to the content they’re interacting with. It’s an invisible process to the user but the data collected can help brands build better digital ad and content experiences for consumers.
A few of the benefits from collecting tracking pixel data:
- Better ad targeting (perfect for building engagement)
- Personalized web experiences (great for boosting brand recall)
- Ability to synchronize cookies across domains (for better, more efficient data collecting)
Your digital creative agency can incorporate tracking pixels into your digital ads during the digital production process, providing you access to insights that hone in on problem areas and transform your marketing, conversions and more.
Take ecommerce, for example. By using tracking pixels on an ecommerce banner ad, the company can assess how many people saw an ad versus how many people actually clicked through and bought something. If views are high and conversions low, that’s an indicator that it’s time to retool the messaging, targeting or ad placement.
What are tracking pixel best practices?
Tracking pixels get a bad rep, sometimes for good reason. Many consumers don’t understand the backend processes of the internet. When an ad seems to keep ‘following’ them, it isn’t just annoying: they may develop a negative brand association.
Make the most of your digital production. There are some key strategies for the responsible use of tracking pixels.
- Be as intentional as possible with pixel use. You don’t need to fire pixels at every single user or for every page visit on a site.
- Put a cap on tracking pixel frequency to reduce lag for your end users. Slow load times of just a few seconds can drive consumers to abandon a page.
- If you have a targeted campaign— say for men between the ages of 18-22 —don’t waste tracking pixels by firing them at older women, etc.
- Respect privacy practices and “Do Not Track” requests.
- Allow customers to opt out of tracking.
- Employ start and end dates that are in sync with the campaign that’s running.
The future of pixel tracking and analytics
Tracking pixels have become a key component of digital ads’ success over the past few years. They’re at the core of successful retargeting campaigns, enabling brands to carefully monitor clicks, cost per lead and cost per pixel. As technology gets smarter, performs better and continues to drive integration across multiple platforms and services, tracking pixels will be part of the next evolution of digital ads: personalized advertising experiences driven by creative.
Tracking and the resulting analytics are just one part of a successful banner ad campaign. It’s not enough to get in front of your target audience. You need to stand out and to do that, you need compelling, high-impact creative and messaging. A good digital creative agency can give you tips on the best digital ad formats for achieving your campaign goals.
Ready to add tracking pixels to your next banner ad campaign? Drop us a line.