Clash of Giants - Tracking Pixel vs Postback URL

Clash of Giants – Tracking Pixel vs Postback URL

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Whoever operates in the performance advertising industry knows that tracking and optimization are crucial to become successful. There are no workarounds here.

This is why at Voluum we take tracking really seriously. It is at the heart 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 tracking or postback tracking, so in other words… let’s discover who is going to win this clash of giants.

 

Conversion Tracking Pixel

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

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

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

When a user visits the confirmation page, thanks to the tracking pixel code you placed there, your tracker, for example, Voluum, will be able to register a conversion for that ad and campaign.

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

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

Pros:  

  • When you own the “thank you page” (meaning that you don’t buy media on behalf of any 3rd party) and you don’t have the technical resources necessary to implement postback tracking, a conversion tracking pixel is for you.
  • It is simple and quick to implement a solution, effortless to use, so you don’t need to be an expert and you can start tracking right away.
  • It is a matter of just copying and pasting the code into the code of the final thank you page that a user sees after the conversion happened.

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 such case, a conversion will not be tracked and there is nothing that can be done about it.  
  • 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 opts in for tracking in Safari, if she or he doesn’t interact with that particular website over the period of 30 days, data and cookies will be immediately deleted. All in all, pixel tracking is more difficult on Safari.

 

Postback Tracking

Postback URL Tracking, also known as server-side tracking or Server-to-Server (S2S) uses an offer provider’s servers to track sessions generated on clicks to attribute conversions. 

A S2S Postback URL is a special URL that uses tokens to pass information on conversion and other information to Voluum. 

It also enables the delivery of an offers conversion back to the associated Voluum campaign, and what’s even better, to a specific landing page and offer. This way, you can measure the exact performance of each and every element of your campaign. That’s the kind of precision we like in Voluum.

You can think about postback tracking in two stages: what happens when a user clicks on an offer and what happens on conversion. 

Whenever a visitor clicks of the offer, via a click on a lander, or via a direct linking campaign, a unique id is generated. We call it a ClickID. For S2S postback URL tracking it is necessary to pass this ClickID to the affiliate network through their Offer URL, by adding a {clickid} macro in it.

After a conversion occurs, the affiliate network uses Voluum’s S2S postback URL to inform Voluum about it. Within the postback URL, the affiliate network passes back the value of ClickID that was previously sent to them within Offer URL with {clickid} macro. 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: 

  • S2S postback URLs are the most secure and reliable method to count conversions, thus it is highly recommended to use this form of automated tracking whenever you can. Voluum S2S postback URLs are unique to each account and are supplied in both a secure (HTTPS) and nonsecure (HTTP) format.
  • S2S postback URLs allow for accurate tracking and stats gathering. This type of tracking happens on the back-end of systems so it cannot be tampered by users. For this reason, it is being considered as one of the most trusted methods for tracking.

Cons:

  • Postback tracking may seem more complex to implement and requiring a more tech-savvy approach. But is it really? 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. 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 picture of what the two tracking methods look like and how they work. 

Now it’s time for you to choose the best method for your business needs. As I said at the very beginning, tracking is fundamental to being successful in the performance advertising industry so make sure you do it properly by choosing the right tracking method.

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.


Key Takeaways

  • Tracking is fundamental to being successful in the performance advertising industry
  • Choose the tracking method that will suit your business needs
  • Pixel tracking is quick to implement
  • Pixel tracking is browser-based and client-side
  • 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 set up requires a tech-savvy approach