Clash of Giants – Tracking Pixel vs Postback URL

Clash of Giants - Tracking Pixel vs Postback URL

Whoever works with performance advertising knows that tracking and optimization are crucial for success. There are no workarounds here.

This is why at Voluum, we take tracking really seriously. After all, it is the essence of our product! Voluum supports two methods for tracking conversions – Tracking Pixel and S2S Postback URL.

Understanding the differences between these two options will help you choose the most suitable method for your needs. 

Let’s find out together what kind of conversion tracking system is better to use – pixel or postback tracking, so in other words… Let’s discover who is going to win this clash of giants!

clash of penguins

Conversion Tracking Pixel

Tracking Pixel, also known as browser-based or cookie-based, is a tracking method that allows users to track webpage visits, ad impressions, conversions, and other types of online activities.

A tracking pixel is an HTML piece of code that can be placed on your website or landing pages to track the visitors’ actions.

In order to use tracking pixel for tracking conversions of your offers, you need to place the tracking pixel on a confirmation or a thank-you page.

When a user visits the confirmation page your tracker – e.g. Voluum – will be able to register a conversion for that specific ad and campaign specifically thanks to the tracking pixel code.

How? We are able to read the cookie that is being placed in the user’s browser when the ad is displayed.

As you can see, tracking your offers with a tracking pixel is very straightforward and does not require a complex technical savvy. It’s simply placing a piece of code on the page right after a conversion happens. And the job is done.

Pros:  

  • A conversion tracking pixel is your ultimate solution when you don’t have many technical resources and you own the “thank you page” (meaning that you don’t buy media on behalf of any 3rd party);
  • It is simple and quick to implement, effortless to use, so you don’t need to be a tech expert – you can start tracking right away;
  • It is a matter of just copying and pasting the pixel into the code of the final thank you page a user sees after the conversion has happened. Simple as that.

Cons:  

  • Occasionally, pixels might not fire. Why? One of the reasons could be that the user cleared their cache between clicking on a link on a landing page and the actual conversion. In that case, a conversion simply won’t be tracked.
  • Apple implemented Intelligent Tracking Protection 2.0 on Safari which prevents websites from being able to track users’ browsing habits without their permission. Right now, a website can request tracking privileges, but the user has to specifically opt-in. Even if the user agrees for tracking in Safari, unless they interact with that particular website over the period of 30 days all data and cookies will be permanently deleted. All in all, pixel tracking can get pretty difficult on Safari.

Postback Tracking

Postback URL Tracking is also known as server-side or Server-to-Server (S2S) tracking. If you choose this method, once a conversion is recorded in Voluum, a unique click-ID value is generated and sent to your affiliate network.

Later, the Affiliate Network passes it right back to Voluum. Once this action is completed, you see a conversion in your reports. Having received the value of ClickID, Voluum is then able to recognize the exact visit and associate the conversion with the right campaign.

Simple, right?

Pros: 

  • Using S2S postback URLs is the most secure and reliable method to count conversions, thus it is highly recommended to use it whenever you can. Voluum creates unique S2S postback URLs for each account and supports only secure HTTPS format. 
  • S2S postback URLs ensure accurate tracking and stats gathering. This type of tracking happens on the back-end, so it cannot be tampered with by random users. For this reason, it is considered one of the most trusted tracking methods.

Cons:

  • Postback tracking may seem more complex to implement as it requires a more tech-savvy approach. With S2S in Voluum, you need to know how macros work, under which parameter you should pass the value of the ClickId, and which token to use within an affiliate network’s postback URL when it’s sent back to Voluum. It may seem overwhelming at first. But no worries! We have step-by-step instructions for you, here and here. If you spend a couple of minutes to understand the pattern, you will become a postback pro.

Clash Of Giants – Who Is The Winner?

By now you should have a fairly good understanding of what the two main tracking methods are and how they work. 

Now it’s time to choose the best method for your own business needs. As I said at the very beginning, tracking is fundamental if you want to become successful in affiliate marketing, so make sure you do it right.

If you ask us, we always recommend using the S2S postback URL option as opposed to the tracking pixel as we find it far more accurate and secure. But, of course, we encourage

With Voluum you can track your conversions as you like 😉


Key Takeaways

  • Tracking is fundamental to being successful in the performance advertising industry;
  • Choose the tracking method that will suit your business needs best;
  • Pixel tracking is quick to implement;
  • S2S postback URL tracking is the most secure and reliable method for accurate tracking and stats gathering;
  • Postback tracking is done in a server-to-server manner and setup requires a tech-savvy approach.
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4 comments
  1. Hello,
    I see no clear winner here. Seems both are used for different purposes as you have described in your article.

    Conversion Pixels are used when you are promoting your own offer on your website, while S2S Postbacks are used in the case of third party offers or offers from affilaite networks.

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