Frequently Asked Question

Pixel vs Postback: What is the best tracking method?
Last Updated about a month ago

What is Affiliate Tracking?

Affiliate tracking is used when an affiliate network is involved in an affiliate program connecting advertisers with affiliates. When a variety of affiliates are working towards the same offers it is crucial to track each conversion in order to identify each affiliate according to their promotion. So, here it is when affiliate tracking becomes a crucial part of the affiliate marketing process.

What is Pixel tracking?

Tracking Pixel, as well as image, is a simple tracking method that an HTML code (image) is added to the conversion page (landing page or offer page) in order to track the user's activity on the website: page visits, ad impressions, conversions, etc.

When a conversion occurs, cookies store the information about the user and attribute the conversion (or another metric) to the corresponding visit from the browser. Each browser temporarily stores the information from users so that’s why this tracking method is also known as cookie-based tracking because they authenticate the session of the user and attribute the conversion to the visit.

PROS

  • The setup is very easy and quick as you only need to copy the HTML code and paste it into the conversion page.

  • It is most suitable if the priority is to track impressions and clicks rather than conversions.

CONS

  • It is sometimes inaccurate since all information about the user is stored in his own browser cookies. So, if users delete cookies, there is no tracking chance.

  • Since all browsers are limiting support for cookies-base tracking in many cases they don’t let you identify conversions with third-party cookies.


What is a Postback URL?

In short words, a postback URL is a simple URL with added parameters (tokens) used to identify and transfer specific details about one conversion. The most common and most precise nowadays is the Server-To-Server (S2S) configuration, which provides communication between ad servers in which a postback URL is used to record when a new conversion is generated.

PROS

  • The tracking is very accurate since it is done server-side. If the priority is to register conversions, this is the most suitable tracking method.

  • This method provides more security and reliability as it works with different options to prevent fraudulent actions.

  • Postback tracking offers flexibility and transparency as it has more options to verify differences in conversions.

  • The Postback tracking works on mobile devices, unlike the tracking Pixel.

CONS

  • Postback tracking is more complex and harder to set up. Therefore, usually technical support is needed for proper implementation.

Conclusion

To answer the question “What is the best tracking method?”, the principal thing to bear in mind is the technical knowledge and resources we have at our disposal. Although Postback tracking is the most accurate and secure method of tracking, it also requires minimum programmatic knowledge to set it up. In contrast to Pixel tracking that its implementation is very easy and fast. However, it is also very important to be up-to-date with the last cookies' support limitations and restrictions to track the required information and don’t lose relevant data.

Furthermore, to choose the best method is important to focus on the metrics because Pixel tracking is best for tracking clicks and impressions and for tracking conversions, the winning option is Postback tracking.

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