Pixel Tracking Concepts
Pixel-based tracking, or “client-side tracking” as its also referred, relies on the user’s browser to track conversions by placing a cookie on the click that is called again on conversion to authenticate the session and attribute the conversion to the correct affiliate. The end-user won’t notice this happening as the entire process of placing a cookie on click and calling that cookie on conversion takes a fraction of a second, usually within 20 – 50 milliseconds.
For most situations the click is the event that starts the session, and with pixel-based offers this is where the session cookie is placed in the users browser. When a user clicks on a tracking link, they are redirected to a HasOffers hosted ad server, who identifies the network this user is going to be tracked in, the offer, and the affiliate. These three variables are required to start the session:
With these values recognized, the ad server will then create a session transaction ID that will be used to attribute this click to a future conversion. The ad server will then create a cookie and place it in the users browser. This cookie contains some simple session info, mainly the transaction ID itself so that it can quickly be retrieved on conversion. Besides the IP address and geographical location, no information is obtained from the user.
Note: Users that do not accept cookies in their browser will not be able to use pixel-based offers since these offers rely on the cookie functionality to track conversions. While this amount of users is minor, to ensure that you are as accurate as possible with pixel tracking, we suggest having a cookieless tracking setup implemented to accommodate these users by passing the transaction ID to the pixel on the server-side.
Tracking on Conversion
When the cookie has been placed, the session is now active and a conversion can be recorded. For this to happen, the offer pixel would have to be placed on the conversion page. The conversion page is commonly acknowledged to be the point after the user has accomplished the objective of the offer. For an e-commerce site, this would be the order confirmation or ‘thank you’ page. On this page is where the pixel should be placed. Once the user finishes the order and is taken to that page, the offer pixel will look for a cookie in the user’s browser to verify that the session is still valid and the cookie matches that of the offer. When all these checks are validated, the ad server will create a conversion for that network:
Placing a Pixel to a Webpage
When placing the pixel, paste in the pixel that is provided for you in the offer. To obtain this pixel, go to the offer page, and in the Details section, click ‘Tracking’:
On the next page, you will see a field containing some HTML, this is the conversion pixel for this offer:
This is the code that you want to add to your conversion page to start tracking conversions.
On the conversion page, the pixel can be placed anywhere inside the webpage body, or between the opening and closing tags. The ideal spot would be right after the opening tag in the page:
... <body> <!-- HasOffers Offer Conversion Pixel --> <iframe src="http://demo.go2cloud.org/aff_l?offer_id=2" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe> <!-- End HasOffers Pixel --> <div id="container"> ...
When the pixel code has been added, you can save the HTML page and reupload the file to the website. Once this is done the offer is ready to test.
Pixel Tracking Types
There are two main tracking types that are offered: iFrame and Image pixels. From an implementation perspective, both pixels will work the exact same way. The technology behind each is a bit different, however.
An iFrame pixel is the most common pixel-based method of tracking conversions. Here is an example of what an offer iFrame pixel looks like:
<iframe src="http://demo.go2cloud.org/aff_l?offer_id=2" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe>
The iFrame protocol is the option for tracking conversions on the client-side, it is generally more accurate than using an image pixel because it does not use the image tag to call the conversion URL for the offer, which has proven to be less reliable.
Another advantage that iFrame has is its robustness in firing affiliate pixels inside itself. When an affiliate wants to track conversions on their end, they can place their own pixel inside your HasOffers network to track in real time. When you have an iFrame pixel, this has unlimited formats to load their pixels, while image pixels can only load other image pixels. iFrame is usually the best option to track conversions on the client-side.
The image pixel is the legacy client-side tracking option for your account, and was one of the first options in tracking conversions in the industry. In most cases, the iFrame pixel option is recommended simply because it is the most compatible with other tracking systems. The image pixel tracking protocol is usually used for offers in other tracking systems that do not support other tracking methods. Below is an example of what an offer image pixel:
<img src="http://demo.go2cloud.org/aff_l?offer_id=2" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1" />
This does not mean that image pixels are not accurate, they use the same methods for tracking conversions as the iFrame pixel. Like the iFrame pixel, the image pixel runs into the same limitations and advantages that iFrames do. With cookie-based offers, the cookie will remain in the users browser even if they leave the offer funnel and leaves them the potential to come back later to the offer and convert. Just like the iFrame, the only step to setup the offer with an image pixel is to add the code to the conversion page.
Cookie-based tracking with iFrame and image pixels does have a few limitations. When placing a cookie in the users browser, you are running the assumption that the user will not modify the setting in the browser, or clear their cookies out, which happens on occasion. There is also the risk of the user blocking cookies in their browser, but can still convert on the offer. Both situations will result in legitimate conversions not being tracked. While these instances are very rare, this is something to consider when tracking offers with cookies.
Secure Pixel Tracking (HTTPS)
There are many instances that either an iFrame or image pixel will be placed on a secure webpage. You can tell if the web page is secure by looking at the beginning of the page URL, and it will start with HTTPS. Many browsers like Chrome will detect if the page is secure by highlighting the HTTPS part:
Normally, conversion pixels will track on a normal, unsecure HTTP webpage, and both the iFrame and image pixel protocols track with HTTP, but there are often times where the conversion pixel will need to be placed on a secure webpage, which requires the pixel URL to be secure as well. With HTTPS pages, all the elements on the page must also come from secure URLs, or they will not be loaded. So in the case of a HTTP iFrame pixel being placed on a secure HTTPS page, the browser will not let the pixel make a request to pull the cookie data from the users browser, which is necessary to track the conversion. As a result, no conversions are tracked.
To remedy this, you can change you offer tracking protocol to ‘HTTPS iFrame pixel’ or ‘HTTPS Image pixel’ in the offer detail page:
Your network provides the default go2cloud.org domain on a secure server, so any offers that need to track on secure pages are covered. When you select one of the HTTPS options, your offer will update its conversion pixel with the new, secure domain:
<iframe src="https://demo.go2cloud.org/aff_l?offer_id=2" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe>
You can quickly change an existing offer to track securely by adding the ‘s’ to the HTTP part of the URL, and this will also move tracking to a secure server, however just as best practice, make sure to also change the tracking protocol in the offer page to match the change you made to the conversion pixel.
Using Custom Domains for Secure Tracking
If you have setup a custom tracking domain for your pixel to track with, one thing you will notice is when you change the offer tracking protocol to use a secure HTTPS URL, the offer pixel URL will revert back the the secure go2cloud.org domain. This is because the DNS for your custom domain is only setup to use unsecure HTTP servers. Each time a domain is secure, an SSL certificate is required to authenticate that the server is secure. Since by default HasOffers does not have an SSL certificate setup for your custom domain, we revert back to the default tracking domain.
If you want your custom domain to be hosted on our secure servers as well as on your unsecure servers, you will need to order a custom SSL from ust. With this package we will generate a custom SSL certificate for your network and set your brand up on a dedicated IP address, that your tracking is hosted from. With this setup, your offers that use HTTPS tracking will match your custom tracking domain:
<iframe src="https://tracking.yourcompany.com/aff_l?offer_id=2" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe>
To get this functionality setup, reach out to email@example.com and our team will assist in getting this setup.
If you have opted to setup your offer to use offer goals, then the same tracking protocols apply. You can use HTTP/HTTPS iFrame or HTTP/HTTPS Image pixels for your goal tracking. These goals will use the same cookie used by the default offer pixel to track conversions from.
For Iframe and image pixels, there is always the risk that a conversion is lost due to the session cookie being blocked or deleted from the user’s browser. While these instances are rare, (around 3% of internet users block cookies) to ensure that tracking is as accurate as it can be, you can implement a cookieless tracking backup option where you can manually pass the session transaction ID to the advertiser landing page like a normal postback tracking offer, and on conversion, they can pass the transaction ID back to the offer pixel to record conversions in instances where cookies are not being tracked.
To set up cookieless tracking for an offer pixel, simply append &transaction_id= to the end of the URL:
<iframe src="http://demo.go2cloud.org/aff_l?offer_id=1&transaction_id=TRANSACTION_ID" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe>
When the conversion fires, this value is passed to the parameter, and when the cookie fails to track, the ad server will look to this parameter to see if the transaction ID is passed and records the conversion. In the instances where the cookieless tracking method is used to record a conversion, the status message “Server Postback Tracking” will appear for the conversion in the Conversion Report even though the offer uses client-side tracking.
Changes to an Offer
If you need to change some details in an offer, there are only a few instances that when you make a change the conversion pixel will also be affected:
- The tracking protocol is changed (iFrame > Postback, etc.)
- The custom tracking domain is changed
- Enforce tracking protocol is turned on and tracking protocol is changed
- The payout is changed from CPA to CPS (just append &amount=AMOUNT to the end of the pixel URL)
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Should I Place the Offer Pixel On the Webpage?
After you create your offer by clicking “Add Offer” you will be prompted to view the Advertiser Tracking Pixel. The advertiser conversion pixel is used by the advertiser to track conversions for an offer. Tracking pixels are only for Offers that use iFrame or Image conversion tracking methods.
The iFrame of Image conversion tracking pixel must be placed on the confirmation page of an offer. After the pixel has been placed by the advertiser, make sure your offer status is set to “Pending” and you can click the “Test Link:” on this page. This pixel can be tested to assure that it has been placed correctly by the advertiser.
<html> <head> <title>Offer Confirmation</title> </head> <body> <!-- Affiliate Offer: Colotrim --> <iframe src="http://demo.go2jump.org/aff_l?offer_id=244" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="1" height="1"></iframe> <!-- // End Affiliate Offer --> -- Website content -- </body> </html>