Marketing Attribution: Tracking Pixels and Pixel Tags

Tracking Pixels, Pixel Tags

Tracking pixels and pixel tags are all synonymous words in the digital marketing attribution process to track customer engagement. These pieces of code ensure an accurate measurement of campaign spend and strategy, procuring a representation of the type of consumers participating in the buying process that can then be leveraged for targeted messaging. A tag is a piece of code that fires an alert back to the campaign when the specified action takes place, such as a consumer filling out a lead form or arriving to the ‘thank you’ page. 

An attribution window refers to the amount of time it takes for a user to convert after being exposed to a tracking pixel or clicking on an ad. According to Search Engine Land, about 97% of conversions transpire within the initial 10 days upon ad exposure, while the remnant 3% occur 20+ days after. Although a rough estimate, if a user converts within a 30-day timeframe from seeing an ad, this conversion is attributed to the ad. When the tag is fired and the click or view was within the attribution window, then the campaign is credited to the conversion. One of the biggest caveats of paid media is understanding what definitively influences a consumer to convert, but tracking confirms marketers’ assumptions and informs our strategy.

Before pixel tags can fire, impressions and clicks are tracked – which are what could lead to a tag firing. Impressions occurs each time a user sees an ad, and a click is calculated each time a user actively clicks on the ad. Often clicks and impressions occur before a tag is even fired, but receiving clicks and impressions are reliable indicators that a user is interested in converting or purchasing your product or service.

The tagging process becomes even more interesting when they are placed on the ‘thank you’ page of a website. When a customer arrives on the ‘thank you’ page (assuming this is the desired action that a campaign wants to track) within the attribution window, the tag fires, and the campaign recognizes this action as a conversion. Features within analytics platforms allow marketers to track who caused the tag to fire, and can granularly determine if that user served an impression or click. The campaign’s trajectory, from ad exposure to conversion, is transparently seen on any data and analytics platform.

While pixel tags don’t always illustrate the complete customer journey, they are a critical tool in your marketing arsenal to accurately assess a campaign’s performance.

The concept of tagging is a typical practice across paid media executions, but are imperative functions of any campaign. Essentially, pixel tags keep track of campaign performance and effectiveness. Tag activation conveys how users are interacting with digital ads, and offer marketers insight to implement optimized campaigns.