(also marketing pixel)
Tracking pixel definition
A tracking pixel is a small, often invisible pixel used to gather information about user activities (e.g., how they browse and what they click on). A tracking pixel may access and communicate such information as the user’s operating system, IP address, and location. Marketers may use tracking pixels in email marketing campaigns or on websites. The behavior data gathered through tracking pixels allows marketers to send the user paid ads more likely to interest them or measure an ad campaign’s performance.
Types of tracking pixels
- Retargeting pixels. These pixels track user behavior and then display targeted ads based on their previous interactions. For example, think of a time you’ve been looking up sneakers on one website, then started noticing ads for the same sneakers everywhere. That’s called retargeting.
- Conversion pixels. These may sit in an order confirmation email or a “thank you” page that appears after you make a purchase. Marketers use them to track sales resulting from specific channels or ad campaigns.
How a tracking pixel works
- A website operator or a sender embeds a tracking pixel in the HTML code of a webpage or an email. This code contains a link to the pixel server.
- When a user opens the email or webpage, the tracking pixel is also loaded, sending a request to the server.
- The server receives the request and records information about the user. This may include their IP address, the time of the interaction, the type of device used, and other details.
- This way, the server can track website or email user actions and know whether they looked at the content, which links they clicked, and so on.
- The collected information allows businesses to analyze user behavior, optimize marketing campaigns, and personalize content for specific users.