What is a Pixel?
If you?ve spent any amount of time marketing your good or services on the internet, you?ll have come across the term ?tracking pixel? or sometimes just shortened to ?pixel?.
Traditionally the word pixel refers to the little dots that comprise the image we see on our computer screens. This is true. Each pixel typically carries a tiny bit of code to communicate to the computer what color should be display so that the image is presented correctly.
To help keep the description as simple as possible, we?ll refer to the ordinary pixel as a ?pixel? and the kind used to record site visitor interactions as a tracking pixel (which isn?t actually visible unless you parse the HTML code).
What is a Tracking Pixel?
In simplest terms a tracking pixel is a tiny piece of code that records specific site visitor information that you can use to optimize your website and online ad campaigns. Tracking pixels are specifically developed to collect precisely the information about your visitor that is of most interest to the marketer.
Tracking Pixels versus Cookies
Simply stated, pixels are the code that puts the cookie on your computer.
Although tracking pixels started out as images, there are now more advanced script snippets. These are more difficult to integrate and require considerable programming knowledge. By using scripts, tracking pixels are able to communicate more information than one that is image-based.
Good Analytics and Facebook Pixels
Two examples of tracking pixels that are relatively straight-forward to implement are Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels. In its simplest form Google Analytics will record information like the pages viewed and time spent on each for every visitor to your website and allow you to view the data numerically and in chart form.
That?s just scratching the surface. You (and by you, I probably mean your site developer or programmer) can customize Google Analytics so that it tracks how much money visitors spent, or how long they left the page open, even as detailed as how many times they hovered over the ?buy now? button.
Each of these options requires different development and different integrations which all depend on how your website is setup. If you want a conversion ID or dollar amount, you?ll most likely have to turn to your expert to determine how your site stores information and how best to forward it to Google Analytics.
Facebook?s Pixel, which is very similar to Google?s, not only collects some of the same information, but also lets you build an audience that resemble users visiting your website, which is invaluable to maximize ROI on your online ad spend.
So What Tracking Pixels Should I Use
This depends entirely upon your business. Most successful commerce sites are running multiple tracking pixels, often with a different set of tracking pixels on each page to record each unique interaction. While you can stuff your site with as many tracking pixels as you want, the best-organized sites have developed sets of tracking pixels that deliver exactly the data they need for decision-making with a minimal of overlap.
When developing your strategy of implementing tracking pixels, keep in mind the advice of Albert Einstein: ?Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.?