What Is a Tracking Pixel? (And How It Works)

Jelani Abdus-Salaam
November 19, 2021

Tracking pixels are a piece of code that gets embedded into your website or blog in order to track visitors. They’re sometimes called “web beacons,” “pixel tags,” and other names, but they all do the same thing: collect information about how people interact with your site and use it for specific marketing purposes (usually creating personalized advertisements).

A “tracking pixel” is a tiny image that is embedded into the code of a website or app. This image allows companies to track how people interact with their products and services. How does it work? Let’s take a look at how tracking pixels work. Read more in detail here: how does a tracking pixel work.

If you work in marketing and haven’t heard of the term ‘tracking pixel,’ you will. Advertisers may employ tracking pixels to collect user data for mobile, email, and online marketing.

Tracking pixels are a method for collecting user activity data that is often used in emails or web pages.

Tracking pixels are usually a fragment of JavaScript or HTML code that enables marketers to keep track of various events and activities that a user does. These activities may be used by marketers to measure conversions, behavioral retargeting, and user activity.

What Is A Tracking Pixel And How Does It Work?

At the server level, tracking pixels are 1×1 pixel graphics used to measure site conversions, user activity, online traffic, and a variety of other information. Web bug, web beacon, clear GIF, and pixel tag are some of the other words used to describe them.

These pixels might help you evaluate your marketing strategies and increase revenue. They may also assist you avoid wasting money on ineffective marketing initiatives by allowing you to concentrate on more efficient marketing strategies and maximizing your resources.

Pixel tags are little pixel-sized pictures that are often concealed and placed in anything from emails to banner adverts. They are important for helping marketers gather valuable information for the web analytics pack, despite their modest size. Firms may use tracking pixel codes to measure sales conversions, email openings, events, and online visitors, among other things.

A tracking pixel may provide you information about your users, such as their location and the kind of device they’re using. These tags might reveal if your users came through sponsored Facebook, Google, or Twitter searches. They may also be utilized to determine the most engaged audience and the optimum time to maximize return on investment.

Furthermore, tracking pixels allow Google Analytics and other similar services to tell businesses how many people visit their websites and how many people have seen their digital adverts.

The tiny size of the tracking pixels is a key feature of their functioning. To avoid interfering with the user experience, they are purposefully hidden in email or web page backgrounds. They’re disguised to enable for a back-end procedure that doesn’t interfere with the content of a marketing email or website.

Tracking pixels are often found in the HTML codes of online advertisements, marketing emails, and websites. Each time a person loads advertising, emails, or webpages into their browsers, they are retrieved from servers. The tags are then sent to a user’s individual IP address, which is subsequently logged. As a result, the servers keep track of the overall number of retrievals.

When the tracking pixel code snippet is put to the HTML code of an email or a website, the pixel begins to monitor various data about the person who is visiting the page. Once the tracking pixel is put into the user’s browser, the user’s information is collected.

The pixel firing process occurs after the pixel has been processed in the user browser. It indicates that the user’s information was delivered to the pixel server, which gathered the information. Data is provided from the user agent when visitors open emails or visit websites. Marketers may benefit from information that user agents have about users, such as:

  • a web browser (Opera, Firefox, Chrome, etc.)
  • IP (Internet Protocol) Address (Internet Service Provider and location information)
  • System of Operation (Android, iOS, Windows)
  • Device Types (Desktop, Mobile, or Tablet)
  • Dimensions of the display

Simply put, when users browse websites, receive emails, or see digital adverts, they are asking that the server download tracking pixels encoded in the content. Despite the fact that the users are unaware of this, the data gathered may assist companies and brands in creating user-specific content.

Tracking Pixels in Action

The primary goal of tracking pixels is to keep track of unique page visits. Using tracking pixels, email marketers, advertisers, and site administrators may examine the servers’ logs and determine the number of visits their material gets.

The information gathered by tracking pixels might be used for advertising and marketing reasons. Accurate analysis of IP addresses may reveal users’ geographic origins as well as the operating systems and devices they use to access websites.

A tracking pixel may be used across servers and websites, giving marketers and website owners a greater understanding of why visitors come and what they desire. With this data, you can tailor adverts and content to match user preferences and develop a needs-based marketing plan. This data may be used by many ad networks to do efficient behavioral retargeting and create unique lookalike audiences and visitor profiles.

Pixel Tracking in HTML CODE: How Does It Work?

Depending on the system, tracking pixels are installed differently. It may be done through the content management system or by incorporating it directly into the source code of the website or email.

Typically, online analytic programs that need this pixel to be deployed, such as Google Analytics or Facebook, give detailed instructions on how to do so.

As seen below, tracking pixels may be inserted into a website’s source code:

img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” width=”0″ height=”0″> img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” width=”0″ height=”0″>

img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” style=”position:absolute; visibility:hidden”> img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” style=”position:absolute; visibility:hidden”>

img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” style=”display:none”> img src=”https://www.sparrowboost.com/article/URL pixel tracking” style=”display:none”>

The image> element is used to load tracking pixels away from the servers after users view a site. The ‘Uniform Resource Locator tracking pixel’ usually shows where the picture resides on the server, while the style attributes ‘display: none’ and ‘visibility: hidden’ indicate that the image is hidden or not shown.

In addition, the image’s height and width may be adjusted to zero, exactly as in the previous example ( 0). The pixel tracking display will be hampered as a result of this.

Cookies vs. Tracking Pixels: What’s the Difference?

Cookies are little files containing modest quantities of data, such as unique ID numbers, that are delivered by Javascript or your website. A cookie enables your server to create a unique’session’ between the browser and the web server.

Visitors’ browsers request a web page in a’stateless’ manner, which means that each request is unique. This is troublesome, particularly if you wish to track your site traffic since each request would be treated as a separate entity. Even if the same user is exploring several pages on your website, this is the case.

Cookies solve this problem by enabling your server to send updated cookies to the browsers of your visitors. These cookies are then saved in the Document Object Model (DOM) of the visitor’s browser. Servers may update the data with each new request since they can read everything on the cookie.

Cookies are pieces of code that web servers employ to save certain information in users’ browsers. This information may be retrieved at a later time for a variety of purposes. Cookies are often used by ad servers like DoubleClick to create unique user IDs. This allows them to track the same consumers across several touchpoints.

When ad servers get a request from a user who does not currently have such cookies, the ad servers generate new and unique IDs for them. These IDs are usually random alphanumeric sequences. The cookie provides a unique ID for each each request, allowing the ad servers to identify the same users.

Because the ad servers keep track of all queries, it’s possible to create reports that identify every user’s touchpoint. This one-of-a-kind feature isn’t available for adding up pixels.

The Advantages of Tracking Pixels

  • Each visitor has their own personalized online experience.

A tracking pixel gives advertisers valuable information about their visitors from many online traffic sources. Marketers can better fit their users by optimizing their marketing strategies, websites, and emails, and increasing income from increased online traffic.

  • Ad targeting that is more precise increases conversion rates and ad effectiveness.

Marketers may identify site users’ information via tracking pixels. This enables for more personalized online experiences and better ad targeting by proposing information, services, and goods that are tailored to the specific requirements of visitors.

  • A better overall user experience

Marketers may employ tracking pixels to gather data and produce user-specific content depending on the information they collect. This improves the overall online experience for your website’s visitors.

  • Marketing Campaigns That Work

In the practical study and testing of content and sent emails, a tracking pixel might be valuable. This is because they employ user analytics data to demonstrate the opening rates of different newsletters or emails. Furthermore, optimization is based on user data from a variety of indicators.

The Drawbacks of Pixel Tracking

  • Concerns about privacy (Visitors are unaware of the data gathered.)

When it comes to the goal of tracking pixels, users are frequently unaware that they are active on the websites they are visiting. Because there is no visible indication of the existence or usage of a tracking pixel, this is the case. Nonetheless, authorities such as the GDPR, which is based in the EU, make people aware of the data collected on them when they visit websites.

  • More bandwidth is needed, and load times are reduced.

The use of a tracking pixel may potentially increase the bandwidth used by visitors as they browse the web. This raised data use and load times since data had to be transmitted from and to the visitors’ devices.

  • Increased bandwidth use across the board for all web traffic

With longer load times and larger bandwidth requirements, this might become a concern, particularly for customers with sluggish internet connections and limited data plans. This increases the amount of data used by online traffic.

Users Are Safe From Tracking Pixels

Users may defend themselves against data harvesting by tracking pixels by taking a few simple measures. You may achieve this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Increasing the controls on what information the sites they visit may access via email and browser settings.

External graphics should only be supported when permissions have been granted, according to the limitations. HTML emails must also be limited. You may also strengthen limits by using appropriate firewall settings.

  • Using proxy servers or browsing anonymously using the Tor browser. This will stop the tracking pixels from being downloaded.
  • To make the tracking pixels visible, you may use certain browser plugins.
  • Script support in your browser is disabled.

This will prohibit the collection of further user data such as operating system or browser type. However, in some circumstances, this may limit other internet operations.

A “tracking pixel” is a small image that is embedded in a webpage or an email. The goal of the tracking pixel is to track where the visitor came from so that advertisers can see how many people have seen their ad and what they clicked on. Reference: tracking pixel code.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does an email tracking pixel work?

A: An email tracking pixel is an image or code that can be included in the text of an email to show companies like Google Analytics where your emails are landing. Its usually used by marketing companies who want to track how many people open their email, click on a link, and visit their website.

How does a spy pixel work?

A: I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you a detailed answer.

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Jelani Abdus-Salaam
Founder @ Cartfuel. Love helping people find solutions to their problems. Beach addict. Dog lover.

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