From a technical point of view, pixel tracking is the simplest way to keep track of how many users visit a certain webpage.

The value it brings for affiliates and online marketers is that such a tracking pixel can be set on a checkout page or “thank you” page, which gives you exact numbers of sales that you’ve generated for a given product.

What’s Pixel Tracking and How it Works?

The term pixel tracking originated from the technical implementation of the method.

A tracking pixel is usually a file that appears to be an image, but actually performs other actions under the hood.

For example, if you want to display an image called dog.jpg, you’ll have to use this code:

Displaying a tracking pixel looks very similar, only the destination file isn’t exactly an image:

The way it works is that whenever the pixel above gets viewed, the tracking script gets executed on the tracking server. Depending on what’s inside this tracking script, different things will be logged for conversion analysis later on.

But that’s a more advanced application. In its simplest form, pixel tracking can be done by taking a standard 1×1 transparent image, putting it somewhere on your server, and then placing a piece of code on the merchant’s “thank you” page:

Then you can view your server logs and check how many times this pixel was viewed. In the perfect scenario, the number of views equals the number of conversions.

The problem with this is that you can never be 100 percent sure that every view was generated by the visitors that you’ve sent to the merchant.

To solve this, you can redirect your affiliate links through an outbound script that sets a cookie on the user’s device and then sends them over to the merchant’s page. For example, like this:

(Note. Building this script is on you. But you can use a plugin to make it easier.)

Then when you browse through your logs, all the tracking pixel requests that have the cookie set represent your visitors.

Pixel Tracking Through an Affiliate Network

The approach described above is a manual method of implementing pixel tracking. You can use it when you’re working with merchants individually, or when you want an additional layer of conversion data.

Most of the time, however, your network will provide you with a tracking mechanism. The merchants that are part of the network usually have this integrated into their sites, so you don’t have to do any setup on your part.

Just consult with your affiliate manager.

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