Are you trying to track conversions on your website or mobile app, but feeling overwhelmed by the different conversion tracking methods available?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
With so many conversion tracking methods available, it can be tricky to decide which one to use. But choosing the appropriate conversion tracking method can be an important aspect of your affiliate marketing strategy.
Currently, there are two prominent tracking protocols that dominate the marketplace – Pixels and Postback URL Tracking.
In this post, we’re going to compare these two affiliate link tracking methods: which one is better for affiliate marketers when to use them, and their pros and cons.
So, let’s dive right in!
What is Tracking Pixel based Tracking?
A tracking pixel is quite literally a tiny, often invisible graphic element embedded in a webpage or email that appears on a user’s screen. It’s like a browser cookie, but it has its own unique features and benefits.
As the name suggests, a tracking pixel is usually a 1×1 square (also called 1×1 tracking pixel) and is just designed to be transparent or blend into the background of the webpage. The whole point is for users to not even notice it.
Its purpose is to track user interactions and collect valuable data that provides insights into user activities on the website.
When a user visits a webpage or engages with an email containing a tracking pixel, the pixel is triggered, sending information back to the pixel creator’s server.
This information can include details such as the user’s IP address, the time and date of interaction, and the user’s browser type to assess the effectiveness of various affiliate marketing strategies.
How Does Pixel Tracking Work?
To track conversions on your website or landing page, when you use a tracking pixel, it is essentially a small piece of HTML code placed on the webpage.
To track conversions of your offers, you need to put a tracking pixel on the page that follows the checkout page, like a confirmation or thank you page. When a user visits this page, the tracking pixel HTML code registers a conversion in the tracking software, allowing you to track the success of your affiliate campaigns.
One of the advantages of Tracking Pixel is that it is very easy to set up. You can have your pixel up and running within just a few minutes by copying and pasting the code into your website or landing page.
However, while Tracking Pixel can be used on pretty much all networks, it is not a perfect solution for everything. Some websites prevent proper tracking with cookies without full authorization, which can limit the effectiveness of pixel-based tracking.
Additionally, tracking pixels tend to be less reliable than S2S Postback URL tracking, which is a more secure method of affiliate tracking as it doesn’t rely on cookies.
Major drawbacks of using tracking pixels for conversion tracking
- Affect website speed: Using a single tracking pixel on your website is not likely to have a significant impact on website speed. However, having multiple tracking pixels from different sources can collectively slow down your website’s performance and negatively affect user experience depending on server response times.
- Limited tracking: Tracking pixels can only track users who have enabled cookies on their browsers. Some users disable cookies, making it impossible to track their activity.
- Inaccurate tracking: It can get blocked by ad blockers or other browser extensions, resulting in inaccurate tracking.
- Limited attribution: This conversion tracking method can only attribute conversions to the last click, which means that they may not accurately reflect the contribution of all marketing channels.
- Vulnerable to fraud: It can also be easily manipulated by fraudsters, who can register fake clicks and manipulate ad performance metrics (e.g. loading the checkout page multiple times to register multiple conversions).
- Privacy concerns: Tracking pixels collect user data, which can raise privacy concerns for some users.
What is S2S Postback URL Tracking?
Server-to-Server (S2S) tracking is an advanced affiliate link tracking method. Unlike tracking pixels, it doesn’t rely on cookies and doesn’t involve the browser. Instead, it uses a server-to-server (S2S) communication between the advertiser’s and publisher’s servers to track user activity and attribute conversions. A click ID value is generated via an HTTP request which is used to track the user behavior.
Postback tracking not only offers greater insight into the user’s actions but also provides increased reliability.
Unlike pixel tracking, which is heavily reliant on web browsers’ limitations and may not work within mobile apps, postback tracking can function effectively for both mobile apps and e-commerce websites.
How Does Postback URL Tracking Work?
In S2S Postback URL tracking, when a user clicks on your affiliate link, the click information is sent to the advertiser’s server, which generates a unique click ID value.
This click ID is then sent to your affiliate tracking software through the Postback URL called by the affiliate network.
When a conversion occurs, such as a sale or sign-up, your tracking software sends the conversion data back to the advertiser’s server (Traffic Source) through another Postback URL, along with the unique click ID value. This allows you to attribute the conversion to the correct link and provide detailed information about the user’s actions.
S2S tracking is a more reliable and accurate tracking method compared to tracking pixels, especially when dealing with mobile apps or limitations with browser-based tracking.
Additionally, S2S tracking is less vulnerable to ad blockers and privacy settings.
Therefore, S2S Postback URL tracking can be an effective way to improve the performance of your affiliate marketing campaigns.
Why Postback Tracking Is Better Than Pixel Tracking for Affiliate Marketers
You usually have the option to track your affiliate links using two methods: Tracking Pixel and Postback URL Tracking. However, when it comes to affiliate marketing, S2S Postback URL Tracking stands out as a superior tracking method. Here’s why:
- Accurate Conversion Tracking: S2S Postback URL Tracking provides more accurate conversion tracking compared to tracking pixels. With S2S Postback, you can reliably attribute conversions to specific clicks or impressions, ensuring precise measurement of your campaign performance.
- Real-Time Tracking: postback tracking offers real-time tracking of user behavior. This means you can monitor conversions as they happen, allowing you to optimize your campaigns promptly and make data-driven decisions to maximize your affiliate marketing efforts.
- Mobile App Tracking: postback tracking is particularly beneficial for tracking user activity on mobile apps. Unlike tracking pixels, which may have limitations in mobile app environments, S2S postback tracking ensures reliable tracking and measurement of conversions within mobile app platforms.
- Enhanced Security and Reliability: S2S postback URL tracking is highly secure and reliable. It doesn’t rely on cookies or browser-based tracking, reducing the chances of misfires and providing a more robust tracking solution for affiliate marketers.
Why is CPV Lab a good choice for tracking conversions in 2023?
CPV Lab offers great flexibility by offering both pixel and postback URL tracking methods to cater to your specific tracking needs.
Whether you prefer the simplicity of pixel tracking or the advanced capabilities of S2S postback tracking, CPV Lab has got you covered. Our goal is to help you achieve optimal results by providing seamless integrations with the most popular traffic sources.
Our Nested Pixel feature enables you to activate additional pixels and transfer token data to other systems that you are using alongside CPV Lab.
With CPV Lab’s easy-to-set-up postback integrations, you can establish a direct connection between your affiliate network and your tracker to make sure you never miss a conversion!
Plus, you can also send information from CPV Lab to your traffic sources by using Postback URLs. This allows for the automatic association of conversions to your traffic sources in just minutes. Say goodbye to manual work and enjoy the convenience of having all your data centralized in one place.
But that’s not all. CPV Lab goes beyond automatic conversion uploads. We offer advanced auto-rules specifically designed for traffic sources. It’s all about saving your time and maximizing your affiliate campaign performance effortlessly.
CPV Lab’s advanced integrations and automation features can simplify your conversion tracking workload, streamline your workflow, and unlock the full potential of your affiliate marketing campaigns.
Author: Julia Draghici
Julia is the CEO of CPV Lab ad tracker. She has 15+ years experience in the software industry, from development to management. For more than 5 years she is helping marketers get the best out of their marketing campaigns by using a performant ad tracker. Passionate about entrepreneurship, business and performance marketing, Julia loves helping people!