What is the difference between Tracking Pixel and S2S Postback URL tracking?

Eugene Dudar | 18.01.2019

Today there are two major methods of tracking your ads and conversions: it is Tracking Pixel and S2S Postback URL. In various situations, there are different reasons to choose your tracking method, but if you compare them one to another, S2S Postback URL is definitely a better choice, but also a slightly harder to set up.

With the release of Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0 update for Safari this summer, Tracking Pixel has become an even more doubtful choice to use, because now it is very uncertain for tracking your conversions. This update is securing user from the unsanctioned tracking of his activity on the internet, and especially blocking any tracking with third-party cookies.

Safari is used by 17% of all users on the internet, and now Firefox has released a similar update that is called Enhanced Tracking Protection. Firefox is used by 4.92% of all users. Altogether, it is almost 22% of all the population that is using the internet and it definitely can affect your conversions.

RedTrack is well-known as feature rich and easy-to-use tool for S2S Postback Tracking at any scale. That’s why ITP releases have not affected your conversion rate in case you were using our S2S Postback tracking.

 

Tracking Pixel

Tracking Pixel is a tracking method based on fact that user browser can store temporary information about his visits to a website and his activity there. This information is stored in cookies. When conversion happens, cookies are getting reviewed again to authenticate the session of the user and attribute the conversion to a proper affiliate. Tracking Pixel can track webpage visits, ad impressions, conversions, and other user activity.

But what is Tracking Pixel in its core? Tracking Pixel is a piece of HTML code that is being placed on your website or landing page to track user activity and conversions. To track conversions of your offers, you have to put Tracking Pixel on a page that follows confirmed sale. Often it’s called a confirmation or thank you page. When a user visits this page, Tracking Pixel HTML code registers a conversion in RedTrack, if the user came there because of our advertising campaign.

Setting up tracking for your offers with Tracking Pixel does not require advanced technical background or specific knowledge. Sometimes it is a significant point that almost anyone can handle setup of a Tracking Pixel. You just need to place a piece of HTML code on the page that confirms a sale.

pros

– You can use Tracking Pixel when your system or your affiliate network does not support S2S Postback URL tracking implementation. That’s the only justification for it. RedTrack is constantly helping to implement S2S Postback tracking even in those cases, when no one is using it there, like in case of our integration with ClickBank.

– It is very simple and can be used if you need to be fast. Just copy and paste the HTML code to the page that follows confirmed sale.

cons

– It is not as reliable as S2S Postback URL tracking. Since all information about user is stored in his own browser cookies, once they are deleted, there is no tracking. User can delete cookies (clear his cache) himself, which happens quite often.

– Many web browsers started to prevent unsanctioned tracking with the use of cookies. Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari has implemented Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which, in many cases, doesn’t let you to spot conversions with third-party cookies.

S2S Postback URL

S2S Postback tracking, or server to server tracking, is saving information about user ID directly to the server of an advertiser (offer provider), RedTrack tracker and Affiliate Network.

How does it look like in a real advertising campaign:

  1. User sees an offer and clicks on an ad.
  2. User transfers through several redirects in a blink of an eye. In few milliseconds, he visits RedTrack, Affiliate Network, Advertiser (offer owner) and a landing page. Now everyone has information about this user’s session. Click is being recorded and gets a new generated ID for this session.
  3. User immediately proceeds to the landing page after the first click, and now he has user ID in his URL.
  4. User buys an offer on a landing page and conversion is correctly attributed to the right affiliate.

When user makes an order:

    1. Offer owner sends a signal to RedTrack and Affiliate Network (fires a postback) with an initial user ID.
    2. RedTrack gets message about the conversion and, which is important, verifies it. As you remember, RedTrack has already received information about user session after the first click.

pros

– S2S Postback URL tracking is an accurate method for tracking conversions. Tracking is done server-side, therefore there are less randomness in results. Users can’t affect it by simply deleting their cookies.

– Can be used for verifying if there are any differences or distinctions in amount of conversions, because RedTrack gets all the information about users sessions with every click.

– Secure and reliable. Less troubled with fraud and there are various options to prevent postback fraud.

– There are more options for sending a signal about successful event, instead of firing a conversion at the loaded thank you page. This can be helpful when offer owner wants to register conversion after shipping an order, or a successful call.

cons

– S2S Postback URL tracking is harder to setup. You will need direct communication between Affiliate Network and Advertiser. It requires technical implementation on the side of an Advertiser to store and send back all the data.

Conclusion

The main reason why you should use S2S Postback URL is because it is more accurate, you can verify the data and be more confident about the conversions that you get.

But it is still fine to use Tracking Pixel in some cases, especially if you need to setup your tracking fast, and you don’t have a lot of campaigns.

Feel free to join our Telegram chat, if you want to discuss these tracking methods.

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