What is Postback URL tracking and how is it different from Conversion Pixel?

server-side-pixel-vs-conversion-pixel

If you are an affiliate or running Display Advertising campaigns, where most of the advertisers pays you on a sale or conversion basis, it is very important for you to spend your advertising budget wisely to get better results. Let’s say you optimize your advertising/marketing campaigns based on interest based targeting, done all the behavioural targeting what is available. You have done everything correct in terms of finding the right targeted audience, selecting the best websites where your ads should be shown and all, you are getting good CTR but still your are not getting enough conversions(it can be getting a form filled or a Sale) what should be your next metrics for Optimizing more efficiently.  Here comes the utility of Conversion Pixel.

But!! What is a Conversion Pixel??             

A Conversion Pixel is a web beacon or code (JavaScript/Image) which is placed on the Thank you/Confirmation page on the advertiser side. Once it’s placed on the site, whenever a conversion (such as purchase or a registration) happens on the site, this pixel gets fired and a conversion gets recorded on the Ad serving platform. This functionality is mostly available on all adservers and now it’s been recognized by many affiliate systems as well.  All you need to do is extract the conversion pixel from the system(adserver or Affiliate) which you are using and get it placed it on the Advertiser website. This is a very effective method of optimization for the affiliates/Advertisers/Adnetworks as once the campaign gets started, they can easily figure out where the conversions are coming from and where they should be spending their advertising budgets.

Funda is simple, when an Ad is served, a cookie gets dropped in the user’s browser. If the user is interested on the ad he/she will click on the ad and may be fill the form as well. All these information about the click and conversion, this cookie records and send’s it back to the server and the conversion is shown against the Ad. But what if user has cleared the cookie or may have disabled it, then the conversion will not get recorded in the system, even though it has taken place. Let’s take another scenario user clicks on an ad, makes a purchase, and then confirms the sale through receiving a text message or a missed call(basically Offline away from the browser). That conversion needs to be recorded in the system for better optimization.

Question is How can we tie these conversions to an Ad? This problems is solved by Server-Side Pixel or a PostBack URL tracking.

What is a Server-Side Pixel or a PostBack URL tracking?

Wikipedia describes as:

PostBack URL is used to describe a sales transaction notification from payment processors to the merchant’s affiliate system site. More specifically, it is a web service written for an affiliate sales tracking software system for a third-party merchant system to send or “POST” the data to. The term “Postback” is used here to describe what the payment processor does with the transaction receipt, which is to “Post Back” to the merchant’s affiliate program, notifying it of a successful transaction, so that it can then credit affiliates with their earnings.

Meaning:

It’s a cookie less mechanism of tracking conversions, where server-side pixel data or a string of characters that is unique to each click is passed through landing page URL itself using a variable or macro which is recognized by the Platform, and the same server-side pixel data is also present (using that same variable or macro)in the conversion pixel which is placed in the confirmation page of the Advertiser. This Server-Side pixel data and the Advertiser Id is matched to check from which click the conversion has taken place. If it gets matched then a conversion is recorded in the system.

Simple Flow can be explained like this:

User Clicks on the Ad -> A Unique code is generated through the Landing page -> User Lands on the page, fills a form or does a transaction and goes to the confirmation page -> There our conversion pixel fires as well which is having the same unique code -> Both is matched and the transaction is recorded in the System.

Utility:

It can be explained by an example, Let’s say an advertiser is operating a ‘Daily Deal’ campaign where users can buy a discount online, print out a coupon, and then a conversion occurs when the coupon is used offline. That advertiser wants to know whenever a user converted, so they can track the campaign’s effectiveness and optimize their media buying more effectively.

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