What Are The Differences Between Postbacks And Pixels?

You’re definitely in a fix trying to pick what conversion tracking protocol to use in your marketing campaign, and that’s why you’re here. Undoubtedly, you must have heard of the best options in the market- Postback and Pixels. Now, you have questions like:

  • Which one is best?
  • Which one would be more beneficial to me?
  • Which one should I use?
  • Which of the options will make my campaign more successful?

Well, relax. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of each conversion tracking protocol. Hang on tight till the end of the article, so you’ll be able to make an informed decision. Happy reading!

What Is Pixel Tracking, And How Does It Work?

Pixel tracking is unarguably the most used conversion tracking method because it is easy to use, and you’ll encounter fewer complications. Pixel tracking is also called cookie-base, in-browser tracking, or client-base. It can help you evaluate your marketing efforts and eventually increase sales. Pixel tracking also helps you to save the hundreds of bucks you would have spent on ineffective marketing. 

Pixels are 1×1 graphics used to track:

  • User’s behavior.
  • Website visits of a user.
  • Where the user comes from, whether LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google search.
  • Conversion of sales.
  • Website traffic.
  • The most engaging users.

Pixels are usually hidden in cookie banner ads, emails, and websites, and they are usually hidden from the user.

So, how does pixel tracking work?

You start by adding pixel tracking in your website’s HTML code or Email. The code will include an external link that links back to the pixel server.

Therefore, whenever a user visits the website, the HTML code will be processed by their browser (Safari, Google, or Bing) and reveal the hidden graphics. When this action happens, it is logged in the server’s database. This way, various information about the user will be collected.

That’s a lot of technicalities, right? Well, in simple terms, pixel tracking works like this: when a user opens an email, website, or ad or takes any action, they unknowingly ask the server to download the pixel tracker linked to the content. This will allow brands and businesses to gain access to information about the user and enable them to create improved content.

NOTE: If you have no information from the affiliate network, you can use pixel tracking.

It is best advised to minimize the use of Pixel tracking because it only works for non-mobile web traffic where cookies are stored. More so, browsers like Apple Safari, Google, firefox, etc are gradually putting a stop to tracking-related cookies even for first parties.

Pros Of Pixel Tracking

  • Easy to set up.
  • It is free.
  • Personalized web experience.
  • Very effective for building engagement.
  • Efficient for collecting data.

Cons Of Pixel Tracking

  • It isn’t easy to set up if you do not have access to the page’s codes.
  • The collected data will be incorrect if you don’t put it on the right page.
  • You can not track all conversions on mobile devices. 

What Is Postback Tracking? Why The Hype?

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Postback tracking. Unlike Pixel tracking, Postback is not so easy. People often refer to Postback as either server-to-server (s2s), server-side, or server call. 

How does Postback tracking work?

Postback doesn’t rely on the user’s browser. Instead, it depends on the advertiser’s server. The tracking starts when a click ID is generated through an HTTP request.

Postback  is considered to be in two different stages: First stage is what happens when the user engages or clicks the offer. The second stage includes what happens on the conversion page. 

More so, Postback does not rely on cookies to obtain the user’s information. Postback also scrapes the need for a client because as soon as it is triggered by an affiliate network or tracker, it will swiftly send back information to the traffic source.

The upside to using Postback tracking is that it doesn’t rely on cookies. Cookies can be easily blocked by the user’s browser (Apple Safari, Google, Firefox, e.t.c.)

Pros Of Postback Tracking 

  • It is more reliable since all tracking is done from the server side.
  • It is not prone to fraud and you can easily prevent Postback fraud.
  • Postback tracking works on all mobile devices.
  • You have the option to set up a global Postback 

Cons Of Postback Tracking

  • It is not easy to implement tracking using Postback.
  • It is time-consuming as advertisers will have to be stuck for long hours setting up the codes of the database that will store their IDs.

Now, The Royal Rumble: Postback Vs Pixels

Let’s take a quick look at the comparison between S2S Postback and Pixels. 

1. Ease Of Use And Simplicity.

S2S Postback is more complex to set up and configure because the advertiser will spend a lot of time trying to code the database for storing their ID. On the other hand, Pixels are very easy to use and configure. It is straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of technicalities. 

Our Verdict: Postback 👎 : Pixels 👍

2. Tracking Accuracy.

When it comes to Pixel tracking, information is usually stored in the user’s browser cookies. The downside of this is that the information gathered can be inaccurate. Meanwhile, with Postbacks, tracking is done on the server side, so the information gathered will be consistent.

Our Verdict: Postback 👍: Pixels 👎

3. Security and Reliability.

Postback is less prone to fraud and there are various systems put in place to avoid S2S Postback fraud. This makes Postback safe and more reliable. Pixels, however, limit support for cookie-based tracking- not so reliable. 

Our Verdict: Postback 👍: Pixels 👎

4. Mobile Tracking Support.

Pixels doesn’t support mobile tracking on smartphones meanwhile S2S Postback works on all mobile devices. More so, Pixel tracking isn’t compatible with apps. On the other hand, Postbacks allow data to be relayed back to the publisher or affiliate.

Our Verdict: Postback 👍: Pixels 👎

Which Is Best For You?

In this article, we’ve talked extensively about the two best conversion tracking methods: Pixels and Postback. Although Postbacks have more upsides than Pixels, it is entirely up to you to determine which one you’d choose for your marketing campaign. You need to consider which one will suit your marketing needs and preference so you can make the best choice.

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