A tracking pixel, also known as a marketing pixel or pixel, is a 1×1 HTML pixel graphic similar to a cookie, and is used to track user behaviour, site conversions, web traffic, and other metrics. The tiny image pixel is usually hidden and embedded in anything from banner ads to emails.
Why would I need this?
These tiny bits of code can optimise your digital ads campaign and overall website. They can also increase your online conversion rate and help build an audience base. They monitor user behaviour in order to improve site experience and tailor paid ads to catch the user's attention on other websites.
Tracking pixels and cookies are very similar and are often used simultaneously. They both serve similar marketing purposes by tracking user activity and behavior. However, the differences are in how the information is delivered and where it’s kept.
Cookies are dropped on a user’s browser and can not follow them across devices. Additionally, users can block or clear cookies if they want. Most times, they’re used to store user information for an easier login experience as well as adding multiple items to your cart for a single checkout experience.
Tracking pixels do not rely on the user’s browser but will send information directly to servers. They can follow users across all of their devices which allow marketing efforts to be linked across website and mobile ads. A key difference is pixels cannot be disabled like cookies can.
How does it work?
There are two types of pixels: retargeting and conversion. When you visit a website and find the ads from that business follow you to other sites and social media platforms, this is done by retargeting pixels.
Conversion pixels are used once a purchase has actually been made. They track sales from a specific ad campaign, placed within the code of an order confirmation page such as an automated “Thank You” that might find in your inbox after buying something. This allows marketers to identify the source of their conversions and measure the success or failure of specific campaigns.
You can add pixels by embedding them in your site’s HTML code or email, which contains an external link to the pixel server. When a user visits your website, the HTML code is processed by their browser, follows the external link, and opens the hidden graphic.
Essentially, when a user visits a website, opens an email, views your digital ad, or any similar action, they’re actually requesting the server to download the tracking pixel connected to the content.