While doing my Adalisys’s article last week, I had a great opportunity to think about something fundamental in the marketing world: conversion tracking. I’ve always found this to be a particularly interesting and complex aspect of the advertising world and, here I’ll guide you through its evolution and specifications for different programs. 

Back in the late ‘90s, when digital marketing was just born, specialists figured it was a good idea to keep track of the success of their advertisements. Here, my friends is where they gave birth to the topic that concerns us today: conversion tracking. So, first of all, let’s define it, shall we? 

A conversion is basically whatever you want your users to do on your website. This could include anything from purchasing some product to subscribing to a newsletter, giving a “like” to your posts, or clicking on your ads. It’s the main purpose of the person running the website. So keeping that in mind, how great would it be to measure those conversions to see if your efforts are delivering benefits? That is what we’ll be calling conversion tracking, keeping track of where you are getting your conversions, how you are getting your conversions and how many conversions you are getting. 

So back in the day, the late ‘90s, what they first came up with was a technique called the “thank you pages”. And how did this work? In a very simple way that many sites continue to use nowadays: After you made a conversion, the website will lead you to a page thanking you for doing so (“Thank you for purchasing this”, “Thank you for subscribing”, étc.). This process provided a simple way to form generic conversion statistics for advertisers because they knew that, every time someone was redirected to that page, they had just made a conversion. 

Moving ahead in time, programmatic advertising and digital marketing began to evolve and gave marketers a more complex way to generate statistics. At this point, they created the Conversion Pixel Method which has evolved through the years. Originally, it meant to put a 1x1 pixel image (a tiny, transparent, and invisible gif image) on the website or the advertisement. This pixel image was then loaded from the server of the analytics company so they knew that this pixel was served. Nowadays, it’s just a line of JavaScript code triggered on a “thank you page” or on any other page, but it’s still called a pixel. 

The world of programmatic advertising has not stopped evolving ever since and Marketers realized that they were going to need much more complex statistics to efficiently optimize display campaigns and the other advertising funnels. In that scenario, website statistics were left behind. The new digital world is all about dynamic websites, coding, and developing new and better methods. At this point, a new conversion tracking technique was born and they called it JavaScript Event. 

A JavaScript Event is a line of code that a developer can integrate at any point in the software to be triggered at any time, by anything, to track any sort of “event” you want to count as a conversion. Basically, once this code is installed, you’re going to be able to track every “event” that you would like to. With this method, advertisers can create more detailed conversion tracking statistics, this data can contain a bunch of information that can be used to optimize digital marketing campaigns.

So now that we’ve learned a little history regarding the conversion tracking world, I can let you in on a little secret: the actual purpose of this article. When I first started my research on this subject, my main goal was to compare today’s major ad platforms’ conversion tracking methods. Given the amount and complexity of them, I got very interested in how they evolved over time and especially what was recommended for each existing program. Hereby, I’ll share with you the full conversion-tracking-for-every-site list, ready?

 

 

The Evolution of Conversion Tracking

Google Ads

Google Tag

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event 

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Instagram Ads  

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Twitter Ads  

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event 

Microsoft Advertising 

Universal Event Tracking (UET)

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Quora

Quora Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

AdRoll

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Amazon 

Amazon Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Taboola 

Taboola Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Stackadapt 

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Reddit

Reddit Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Infolinks

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

LinkedIn 

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Pinterest 

Pinterest Tag

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Snapchat

Snap Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

TikTok

TikTok Pixel

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

YouTube

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Propel Media 

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Revcontent 

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

Yahoo! Network

Universal Event Tracking (UET)

Conversion tracking method: JavaScript Event

Epom

Conversion tracking method: Conversion pixel

To conclude, we can say these results are definitely interesting. Considering this list, we can see that the “conversion pixel” tracking technique still is the one chosen for most of the major Ad platforms, even when the JavaScript Event method provides much more detailed solutions. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing which programs will switch to JavaScript Event and, even more, the new technologies that will be developed around this same subject. What we can for sure guarantee is that we still share the same objective our antecessors in the ‘90s did: Find out which of our efforts are giving the most profit and how to improve them.