What is Ad Tracking? 5 Types of Ad Tracking Methods

Business, SEO

What Is Ad Tracking?

Ad tracking is the process of keeping track of how much of an impact an advertising channel has. It is basically the process of tracking the return on investment for ad spending. Digital advertising has made it easier than ever for advertising teams to track exactly how effective their ad campaigns are and how much their ad spend translates to increased sales. Advertising teams can glean countless granular data points with their digital advertising and customer data, making it easy to see how ad campaigns impact sales in almost real-time.

While advertisers before the internet struggled with having almost no data to back up their new ad campaigns, modern digital advertisers have almost too much data. They must devote lots of time extracting the most valuable insights and trends from the plethora of data they gather. Ad tracking makes it easier for advertisers to measure their ads’ effectiveness, test new campaigns with minimal investment, and revise their ads more quickly in response to the data they gather from their tracking tools.

Ad Tracking

Digital advertising is a large part of how you grow your brand awareness. As a business owner, you should make sure every ad you purchase offers an acceptable return on the investment. Site owners must encourage their digital advertising teams to track their ads, find out who is engaging with them, and discover how to leverage ads more effectively.

Ad tracking is a more complex process than it may seem at first. However, with the right tips and strategies, you can make ad tracking a viable and valuable part of your digital marketing campaigns.

What Can You Track With Ad Tracking?

Data gathering is incredibly sophisticated and now forms a cornerstone of modern digital marketing. Ad tracking technology allows marketing teams to track click-through rates or the rates at which users click on paid ads and ads embedded in email messages, as well as a wide variety of other metrics, from page views to social media post impressions and return on investment for pay-per-click ad campaigns.

Ad tracking helps determine your audience’s behaviours and helps you better define their interests. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for appropriate ad tracking. Every business has different priorities and every ad campaign has unique goals. It’s essential for business leaders who develop new advertising campaigns to determine which metrics are most important and develop their own unique ad tracking systems.

How to Get Started With Ad Tracking

The first step in developing your own ad tracking system is to identify your pain points. Think about past ad campaigns that have underperformed and try to determine what went wrong. If you have past data as a reference, you can determine how your past digital ad efforts failed to meet your expectations and adjust accordingly for the future. For example, if you seemed to spend an inordinate amount of your marketing budget on Facebook ads and your ad tracking system reports that Facebook generated minimal traffic to your website, then you know that you don’t need to spend as much on Facebook marketing in the future.

Identifying your pain points helps you more clearly define your goals. You need to know what you intend to track before you start ad tracking. Are you interested in keeping visitors to your website on your page longer, or are you trying to drive more traffic through your paid ads on Google? Do you want to improve the clickthrough rate for your marketing emails? Set clearly defined goals for your next ad campaign and develop a tracking system that helps you mark your progress toward reaching those goals.

5 Types of Ad Tracking Methods

Several methods exist for ad tracking. It is ultimately up to you to decide which methods are most appropriate for your goals:

1. Tracking pixels

A tracking pixel is a 1×1 pixel image space that fits into the body of an email message. When a recipient opens the email to view the message, the tracking pixel transmits this data back to you to notify you the email was opened. Tracking pixels can potentially help you gain valuable insights about your customers’ buying journeys and overall relationships with your brand. However, you must use them conservatively and only track data that is relevant to your relationship with a customer and aimed at providing the customer with superior experiences with your brand. Tracking pixels are incredibly effective for optimizing the average customer’s buyer’s journey with your company.

2. Cookies

Virtually every internet user is familiar with cookies to some degree. Almost every major website now asks new users to agree to cookie use when visiting these pages for the first time. Cookies are temporary internet files that help advertising teams gain useful insights on user behaviours on their websites. However, sites must gain explicit consent to use cookies, hence the reason why cookies requests exist on virtually every major site today upon loading their landing pages.

3. DoubleClick ad tracking

Google acquired the DoubleClick ad platform in 2008 and now uses it to effectively run ad campaigns for advertisers across multiple channels. If you recently viewed a product listed for sale on an online retail site and then noticed ads for that item seemingly following you around the internet afterwards, this likely occurred due to DoubleClick ad tracking. Google rebranded the DoubleClick platform as Google Marketing, Google Ads, and Google Ad Manager, but the nuts and bolts remain the same. The system uses first and third-party cookies to analyze user behaviour and determine the best use of advertising space on a given site.

4. Facebook ad tracking

Facebook is still the leading social media platform and Facebook advertising is now a major digital marketing channel for countless businesses. You can use the Facebook ad tracking pixel to create custom ad targeting audiences, gain insights as to how user interaction with your Facebook page influences visits your website and determining purchase intent.

5. URL tracking

Probably the simplest form of ad tracking is URL tracking. When a user clicks a link associated with your ad campaign spanning multiple channels, you receive a report as to which channel generated the link. This is an incredibly useful method of tracking the success of multiple ad channels used in the same ad campaign.

These are just a few examples of effective ad tracking methods you can start using right now. The best type of tracking for your business of course depends on how you market your products and services. If you rely heavily on email marketing, tracking pixels help you collect data about open and click-through rates.

If you advertise across multiple sites using the Google Ads platform, you’re going to need to understand how cookies work, how to collect them, and the types of cookies available for analysis. If Facebook advertising is a large part of your digital marketing spends, you should take full advantage of the tracking capabilities Facebook offers to ensure you are getting an acceptable return on your investment.

Start Reaping the Benefits of Ad Tracking for Your Next Marketing Campaign

Ad tracking can provide several fantastic benefits for your next marketing campaign, no matter how many channels you intend to implement. Ad tracking will help you get to know your audience better, help you serve their needs and interests more accurately, and help you stretch every marketing dollar to maximum return on your investment.

Modern digital marketing requires ongoing effort. You cannot expect the same strategies that worked last year or two years ago to work just as well next year. It’s essential to have an ad tracking system in place so you can chart your progress over time, respond to market shifts and changing customer habits, and ultimately provide your audience with higher-quality interactions with your brand.

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    Stephen Moyers

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