Learn about how tracking pixels and conversion pixels work and how cookies track behaviors.
- I find interpreting your data becomes easier and more meaningful if you understand the pieces that make data collection possible. Every action you take on the web is tracked one way or another. The pages you view, the files you download, and even demographic and interest data can be recorded. And this data is captured through the use of what we call cookies and pixels. A cookie is a small file that a website stores on your computer. And this file might contain the pages you visited and when, a unique identifier, and even if you're authorized to view certain content if you're logged in.
As you continue to browse the web and load advertisements from the same publisher, they'll see a list of the type of sites you visit and how you interact with these ads. This information can then be used to sell ads that you're more likely to engage with. So beyond cookies, we have the tracking pixel, and a tracking pixel stores information on your web server, not your computer. A pixel is really just a one by one transparent image, and they're often used to see if users convert after visiting a particular ad.
Here's how they work. The server stores a small file, call it pixel.gif, and every time the server asks for the file, it's going to log that request. Now instead of just asking for pixel.gif, we'll instead add custom variables to the request, say, pixel.gif?ID=123 and so on and so forth. The server will be successful in delivering the image because all the extra text is irrelevant. So the user doesn't see any issues, but it does a keep a log of that unique URL.
And it can use those variables to then match that transaction back to a particular user or advertising event. To put this another way, let's say you click on an ad to buy movie tickets. As soon as you click, you're going to receive a cookie. And the cookie will include information on the time, where you clicked, what banner was clicked, and so on. Now at this point, the advertising platform knows that the ad received an impression and a click, but it has no record of the sale. So now, let's say you continue on and buy those tickets. On the confirmation page, the website is going to read the cookie on your computer, pull the information from it, and send it back to the server through the conversion pixel.
And now the advertising platform will connect the dots and indicate a sale for that ad. We'll talk more about how these sales are attributed later. Now there are some other factors, such as how long it's been since the click, if the click came directly from that last click or maybe a user saw an advertisement and then purchased without actually clicking. But again, more on that later. I could go deeper and deeper into the technical aspects of how cookies and pixels work, but the truth of the matter is you realLy don't need to know all the nuances. With this high level overview, you'll be able to make sure yours are set up properly and tracking the right information.
Brad shows how to evaluate your website and identify conversion goals, measure and interpret website analytics, get the most out of SEO, and set up your first text and display ads. See how to connect with communities on the leading social networks, learn best practices for developing and distributing video marketing content, and find out what makes an email marketing campaign successful. This course also covers content marketing, mobile marketing, and influencer marketing, as well as recommendations for expanding your digital marketing skillset. Upon completing this foundational digital marketing course, you'll be equipped with skills and strategies that can help you navigate today's online landscape and develop a smart plan of action.
This course is part of a Learning Path approved by the American Marketing Association.
Gain the skills you need to become an AMA Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) in Digital Marketing by using the industry-leading courses and resources in the Learning Path. Take the AMA certification exam to show that you have what it takes to lead the digital transformation.
- Examine the importance of the top three digital strategies for business, brand, and marketing.
- Define vital online marketing terms.
- Explore the components of the digital marketing landscape.
- Identify the uses of a marketing funnel.
- Discover the characteristics of an effective website.
- Recognize the importance behind choosing an effective domain name.
- Determine the importance of choosing a responsive design.
- Examine the fundamentals of a conversion funnel.