Tracking Pixels Are Going Universal – Are You Ready?

Conversion tracking is a fundamental aspect of digital advertising campaigns. For years the industry followed in Google AdWords’ footsteps and provided conversion tracking pixels. One pixel for each conversion type (e.g. form lead, download, transaction, etc.). With the growth of retargeting, these same channels then adopted a site-wide pixel for building audiences. What did this do? Well, it created a NIGHTMARE for managing tracking pixels on websites and in the advertising platforms.

The solution to this problem? Universal pixels that do it all – track visitor data, build audience for retargeting AND provide the foundation for tracking conversions via rules. Is this revolutionary? Hell no. Google Analytics has been doing this all along! Why it took so long for all of the advertising channels to figure it out is beyond me. And oddly enough, Google AdWords still hasn’t…

  • Google AdWords: Retargeting in the shared library uses a universal pixel, but that is ALL that pixel does. Conversion tags are still single use – one pixel per conversion type.
  • Bing Ads: Universal Event Tracking was announced at the end of 2014 and Bing Ads hasn’t looked back!
  • Yahoo! Gemini: A universal pixel system was released in Gemini sometime in 2015 that caters to both retargeting audiences and conversion tracking. Yahoo pushed this feature live in a stealthy manner – one day it just appeared in accounts. Poof!
  • Facebook Ads: The ‘Facebook Pixel’ became a thing in 2015. This is Facebook’s universal pixel for retargeting and conversion tracking. Facebook’s standard one-off conversion pixels still work, but they are on their way out later in 2016. Are you ready?!?!?

facebook pixel

  • Twitter Ads: This is actually the reason I wrote this article. Twitter just released their upgraded conversion tracking platform which is a universal pixel system. WHOOHOO! Twitter was a double-edged sword before where you needed one-off retargeting pixels AND one-off conversion tracking pixels. There were Twitter Ads tags EVERYWHERE. Not anymore.

twitter pixel

Why do I get excited about universal tracking pixels? Why should you care? It’s pretty simple, really.

  1. Universal pixels simplify website tagging. A single pixel on every page of your website facilitates multiple processes. The heavy lifting is completed in the ad platform interface via audience and/or conversion rules (events).
  2. Updating or adding audiences and conversion events is much faster. Now you only have to install (or go through hell to get someone else to install) pixels ONE TIME. In the not-so-distant past you had to install new pixels Every. Single. Time. Now you simply need to log into your ad platform of choice, edit an existing rule or create a new one. Easy-peasy.

The only question that remains? When will Google AdWords consolidate conversion tracking and retargeting into a single universal pixel? Or… why not just merge AdWords and Analytics tracking into a single, awesome and formidable pixel to rule them all?