The difference between tracking pixel and image tracking

Image tracking technology

March 10, 2021

The difference between tracking pixel and image tracking


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Marketers have an arsenal of techniques to track interactions between their campaigns and users, like the tracking pixel. However, when it comes to earned media, the techniques still rely on a simple search for mentions or logos, while tracking the campaign visuals, i.e. real pixels, can be very powerful. Here is the difference between the two techniques.


What is a tracking pixel ?

Tracking pixels are not exactly pixels. They are code snippets added to a website to create a 1×1 pixel graphic in order to gather information. They are crucial for marketers when it comes to retarget ads and improving conversion rates.

Marketers use tracking pixels to track conversions

When users visit your site, the tracking pixel loads to collect information about them as they browse your website, like which pages they view, which ads they click on, their operating system, the type of device and screen resolution they use, what time they visited, activities during a session, and their IP addresses.

It may remind you of cookies, right? Well, tracking pixels and cookies are actually very similar, and they are often used in conjunction with one another. But The difference is how the information is delivered and where it is kept. Cookies are saved in an individual’s browser, while tracking pixels send information directly to servers.

So, in short, most marketers rely on these little bits of code to track interactions with their campaigns across various sites. This means that when their campaign content is reposted without that piece of code, it's like throwing it into a black hole...


But tracking pixels do not track your images

Apart from this little piece of code, most marketing campaigns are made of visuals:

  • 80% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.
  • Video (63%), alone, has also surpassed blogging (60%) in usage as a social media marketing asset. (Social Media Examiner).

Unfortunately when visuals are re-used for sharing or reposting on the internet, it is often done by copying the image file (sometimes even a screenshot). As the piece of code supposed to work as a tracker does not stick to it, the campaign’s content gets lost in the jungle of internet.

This is why earned media is less easy to track than conversions.

Using image tracking to calculate earned media and campaign performance 

To sum up: the majority of campaigns include visual assets, most of which will fly away from where they were initially posted. So knowing where those visuals are used on the web is an excellent Campaign Performance Indicator.

This is why tracking the pixels of your visual assets is as important as using tracking conversion pixels.

Tracking images or videos – or portions of original ones – on the internet relies on visual recognition and web crawling capabilities.

You may think of Google Images, the most commonly used reverse search engine for images. The service is quite simple: you upload an image (one by one), and the result is a list of pages where the search engine “thinks” it found the same image. This is a good starting point, but this manual process (uploads, false positives checks, limited number of matches) is not sustainable.

Image tracking by traditional reverse search is too limited for monitoring purposes

Like on Google Image, visual recognition is not 100% reliable. However, Monitoring Services like Imatag prevent false positives by hiding an invisible code in the pixels of the image. When this code, also called digital watermark, is detected, the match is 100% reliable.

Unlike Google Image, Imatag’s search can be done as a batch request (a bulk upload on their servers) and results are displayed in the form of analytics and dashboards, so provide statistics and intelligence data.

Learn more about how to monitor your images on random web and even custom sites.

How image tracking can help in PR and Marketing ?

Tracking your visuals online is the best way to answer these questions :

  1. Who uses your press release content? / marketing content?
  2. Who leaked your embargoed press release?
  3. What are the most used visual assets after download from your pressroom website?
  4. What is the ROI of your press room? / campaign?
  5. How is you visual content disseminated and by whom?
  6. Which visual assets taken from your own website are the most used on the web?

Finding the best solution to track your digital images and videos on the web.


Finding the best solution to track your digital images and videos on the web.

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