Tracking Pixel (© Oatawa / Fotolia.com)
Tracking Pixel (© Oatawa / Fotolia.com)

A tracking pixel is a 1x1 pixel graphic that is loaded every time someone opens an email or visits a webpage. It is used to track specific user activities and the data it collects can be used on online marketers to monitor their advertising efforts. A tracking pixel is a small image that measures 1 pixel high and 1 pixel wide. Also known as a pixel tag, these images are loaded when users visit a website, view an advertisement, or open an email. Through the use of tracking pixels, advertisers can gain pertinent information that pertains to their online marketing efforts.

Tracking Pixel Components

Tracking pixels are graphic images that measure 1x1 pixels in size (height and width); however, they can be any size. The small 1x1 pixel dimensions are preferred by advertisers because they are very small and are barely noticeable. Their small size allows them to be either partially or completely transparent, as they are hidden within the background imagery of a website or an email, which prevents them from standing out.

OpenPR-Tip: The most important component of a tracking pixel is a source code; for example: <img src=http://www.trackingpixelexample.com/images/1x1.jpg>

The URL of the tracking pixel serves as a server’s memory location. When a user opens an email or visits a website, the image that is connected to the <img> tag will be loaded from the server. So, with the above example, trackingpixelexample.com, an admin would be able to track how many times the image was requested to load.

Where are Tracking Pixels Placed?

The publisher of a website or the person who sends an email inputs a tracking pixel via a code within the HTML code of a website or an email. The code features an external link that connects to the pixel server. When someone opens the destination website or email, the HTML code is then processed by the browser of the user. The browser then follows the link and opens up the graphic image, which is then registered on the log file of the server.

The key to using tracking pixels correctly is making sure that they are placed on the proper page for whatever information you are trying to collect. For instance, if you are trying to track conversions and you put a tracking pixel on a public page, every time a new visitor opens the page, the pixel image will be request and each visitor will be considered a conversion. This is not an accurate reading of conversions, as not every visitor to a website will actually convert.

Information Tracking Pixels can Acquire

When used properly, tracking pixels can be acquire a lot of pertinent information, and advertisers can then analyze that information to learn valuable information about their marketing efforts.

Some of the different types of data that a tracking pixel can collect include:

  • The operating system used by a visitor.
  • The type of email or website that a user is using.
  • The screen resolution of the client
  • How many times a website was visited
  • How many times an email was read
  • Information about IP addresses, including their location
  • The type of activity a user performed while visiting a website during a session

Benefits of Using Tracking Pixels

Using tracking pixels can be beneficial for advertisers, web publishers, those who send email, and even search engine optimization firms. The information that tracking pixels generate can be used to monitor marketing efforts and making improvements to them. For example, advertisers can implement better online offers, make their offers more appealing and user-friendly, and adjust their offers so that they work with the browsers that their users use the most frequently.

In regard to email, tracking pixels can be used to display the open rates of emails. The information collected combined with A/AB testin g can allow for the creation of better email marketing campaigns. This is also beneficial to email recipients, as it allows them to receive better emails that are more interesting and useful in the future.

Disadvantages of Tracking Pixels

Despite their benefits, the use of tracking pixels has been criticized. Advocates of data protection say that they collect sensitive information about users. Since the pixel is virtually invisible, users do not know that they are being used and are giving valuable information without their consent. In other words, data protection advocates say that tracking pixels is a violation of user privacy.



         



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