How to Use a Tracking Pixel in Your CTV Campaign—3 Tips

How to Use a Tracking Pixel in Your CTV Campaign—3 Tips
By Madhive Marketing
November 03, 2022

We’ve come a long way since TV was simply a box in the living room that we turned on after dinner. TVs are now “smart” — as in, plugged into the internet. They’re able to collect all kinds of anonymized information to tailor both content and commercials to each viewer.

How? One of the most common data collection methods is the tracking pixel, which allows advertisers to collect valuable insights on ad targeting and performance.

What is a tracking pixel?

A tracking pixel is a snippet of code that tracks user behavior across different devices and channels (e.g. digital marketing, email marketing, CTV advertising, etc.). 

The tracking pixel collects data behind the scenes to provide marketers and advertisers with information they need to improve their performance and user experience (of course, this data is all privacy protected and anonymous).

Related content: Your Guide to CTV Data—How to Target and Optimize Campaigns

How does a tracking pixel work?

When a user visits a website, opens an email, or watches a CTV commercial that has a tracking pixel attached, the tracking pixel code automatically fires and records bits of information, such as the user’s:

  • Device ID

  • Location

  • Clicks

  • Conversions

  • Behaviors

  • And more

What can you do with tracking pixels?

As an advertiser, pixels serve several purposes across marketing campaign targeting, measurement, and optimization

For example:

  • Attach a tracking pixel to a banner or video ad to measure how many clicks or views it receives. 

  • Add a pixel to the “Thank You” page of your website to see how many people purchased your product

  • Add a pixel to track when users abandon their shopping carts (so you can retarget them with a special offer or reminder)

Perhaps most importantly for advertisers, tracking pixels help optimize campaigns. With pixel tracking, you can assess how different channels are performing and fine-tune your campaign while it runs. For example, if you’re seeing a lot more traffic after you air a CTV commercial than from banner ads, you can adjust your campaign to invest more in CTV.

Related content: Luxury department store chain increases revenue by millions through in-flight optimization

How to use tracking pixels in CTV—3 tips

Using pixels effectively takes strategy, analysis, and refinement. Here are some of our top tips for using them in your CTV ad campaign.

1. Understand all the ways to use pixels for targeting

Pixels look the same at the code level, but how they’re used can differ widely. You can use a tracking pixel to:

  • Retarget audiences. Have they seen your ad on Instagram? Have they visited your competitor’s website? Did they abandon their checkout cart? If they’ve shown interest, they’re already part of the way down the funnel.

  • Measure results. Set a specific tracking pixel to fire when prospects purchase your product, or use pixels for other campaign goals to understand the impact of your campaign.

  • Connect the dots. Pixels can capture device IDs when they fire, making it easier to understand how your audience is engaging with your campaign. Are customers converting more on mobile or desktop? Are they checking out your company on a phone and then purchasing on a desktop? Pixels give you a clear view of the consumer’s behavior.

Related content: The Top 5 OTT Targeting Options You Need to Know

2. Consider what you want to measure, and where

Once you understand your options, you can decide what sorts of things you’d like to measure within your own campaigns.

Pixel data allows you to analyze user behavior in many ways. For example, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you can set pixels on every product page to see which ones are most visited to answer questions like:

  • Is there one product people are clicking on more than others? 

  • Are visitors refreshing the same page?

  • Do they keep going back to their cart? 

With pixels, you can track behavior across all of these locations — all in a privacy-protected manner without PII.

3. Set clear campaign goals

Once you decide how you want to deploy tracking pixels for your own campaigns, you should set clear targets for yourself — and measure performance against them. Knowing what you want before you start is the key to getting more valuable data. 

For example:

  • If your goal is brand awareness, you should focus on getting your ad in front of as many people as possible. Lookalike audiences are a good way to find more of a similar audience.

  • If your goal is to get people to buy a specific product or sign up for more information, you’ll likely lead them to a landing page specifically created to collect entries.

The bottom line on the tracking pixels

The tracking pixel is a critical tool that helps marketers optimize performance of your CTV advertising— to save money and increase return on ad spend. Because they’re so important, we include pixels in our attribution reporting so advertisers can adjust campaigns in real time. 

But pixels aren’t the only kind of data you should be familiar with when it comes to building and optimizing campaigns. 

Take a deeper dive on CTV/OTT data in our latest guide: Your Guide to CTV Data—How to Target and Optimize Campaigns