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The Difference Between Conversion APIs and Pixels

The Difference Between Conversion APIs and Pixels

Data is everywhere. It’s all around us. Especially in today’s largely virtual and mobile society. Our social lives exist online, our shopping habits exist online, even our education and our professional lives are all facilitated through the internet. This isn’t necessarily news, as the major documentary, “The Social Dilemma” exposed a lot of the ways in which our data is used by companies and brands each and every day. However, in the wake of this, consumers have become at least somewhat more aware of their digital footprint and the amount of information they leave behind on the internet. This has led to a few interesting shifts in the online environment of the economy. Especially when it comes to advertising and marketing.

As a reaction to the way that consumer data and information was so exposed, many web-browsers began offering users a certain amount of protection against unnecessary data-tracking. This created a new need for better consumer data in the world of online marketing, shopping, and advertising which in turn led to the popularity of conversion APIs.

Pixels are Part of Client-Side Tracking

Prior to the wide-spread shift in the consumer mindset toward data-privacy, the most popular data-tracking tool was known as a Facebook pixel,  and eventually took on the name of Meta Pixel. These are 3rd party tracking systems that use event-triggered tracking in order to send data to ads. In other words, these pixels are little snippets of code that live on top of a website or brand’s application, and send appropriate data based on event-triggers. These triggers can range, but are typically associated with consumer actions like; making a purchase, adding something to cart, completing registration, or any number of other events.

These pixels are often managed through Google Tag Manager, which is an easy and centralized UI that allows users to manage their events as well as triggers, and ensure that everything is flowing downstream toward their Facebook ads.

This entire process of using 3rd party applications and cookies to track event-based user data was easy and relatively effective. However, it also came with a series of problems. Specifically, these pixel type solutions are relatively easy for ad-blockers and other web-browser based features to disable. Secondly, because the data is being tracked and transferred by a 3rd party application, your organization never owns that data. This is typically known as client-side tracking.

Conversion APIs Leverage Server-Side Tracking

Conversion APIs are the solution that emerged in order to help organizations continue the sourcing and utilization of reliable and accurate consumer data in the context of advertising, marketing, and other business operations. Conversion APIs are very similar to the previously popularized pixel, but they are much more powerful. This is because they are not limited in the same way that pixels are.

Conversion APIs are considered to be server-side tracking, which means that data is owned and managed directly by you or the organization. In other words, it isn’t limited to the single bits of data based on web-interactions that rely on a pixel. Additionally, web-browsers that block cookies and ad-blockers implemented by users don’t impact the ability of conversion APIs and server side tracking.

One of the big benefits of conversion APIs is that they can receive and track data from any point along a customer journey. Conversion APIs are becoming so popular that Google, Snapchat, and TikTok have already created versions of a conversion API. Amazon and Twitter are also expected to release their own conversion APIs sometime in 2022.

The New Era of Data and Privacy Protection

Consumers are more concerned with data privacy today than they have been since the birth of the internet. This is partially due to a greater understanding of how powerful data can be and how much of our personal information is vulnerable on the internet.

With many web-browsers innately blocking 3rd party cookies and even more users making use of ad-blockers, conversion APIs pave a path forward for powerful and personalized advertising.

Utilizing Both Pixels and Conversion APIs

Although conversion APIs offer more powerful data that the organization owns itself, there is still a way that brands can make use of both pixels and conversion APIs. By making use of data both client-side and server-side, companies can paint a more comprehensive picture of their consumers.

It is important to note that using both server-side and client-side consumer data is most effective in combination with some sort of deduping tool to ensure that consumer events aren’t counted twice.

Wrapping Up

The world of online advertising and marketing is driven by consumer data. Companies use data to build unique target-audiences, and individualized marketing campaigns that are designed to drive consumer behavior and increase the efficacy of their marketing strategies and tactics. By implementing a conversion API into their marketing strategy, brands can enrich their advertising campaigns with more powerful data and a more comprehensive picture of their target consumers.

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