From quantity to quality: How pixels improve digital marketing
The benefits of using pixels to optimize results
At Rhea + Kaiser, we have seen that some client verticals, especially in the B2B space, are ready to tackle the next set of digital marketing best practices. Pixels for paid media campaigns are a great example of where we’ve helped elevate clients to industry standards and significantly improve their results in the process.
The first question in the pixeling discussion is often “what is a pixel anyway?” In the paid media space, a pixel is a snippet of code typically placed on a client website. It helps clients go from targeting the 80-90% of people who click on ads but don’t really want to be on the site, to targeting the 10-20% of people who click and really do want to visit. That’s a completely different pool of people!
The Benefits of Pixels
A pixel gathers very specific but anonymous and privacy-law-compliant data about all users who come to the site. In laymen’s terms, a pixel is a pathway to first party data. If you haven’t heard the hype, first party data is evolving from the most valuable data to basically the only data available for targeting digitally based media, outside of publisher direct data.
The exact nature of the impending changes in the data landscape is a topic for another day, but building first party now, before it becomes critical, is ideal.
Pixels on client websites build pools of anonymized data about website visitors. With this data we can tie paid media activity to on site activity, allowing us to target, optimize and report on paid efforts.
Brand Site Retargeting
From a targeting standpoint, there are two major use cases for pixels. The first is brand site retargeting, reaching people who have already been to the client’s website. A visit indicates an interest in the brand. A follow-up message could move them further down the funnel.
This is not to be mistaken with publisher site retargeting, an ad product that many publishers sell. Brand site retargeting reaches someone who is interested in a client again, publisher site retargeting reaches someone who is interested in a publisher or a specific type of content again.
The second use case for targeting is look-alike modeling, which helps brands reach people whose online behaviors are similar to those who have visited the brand website. Look-alike modeling helps broaden digital media targeting to reach new potential customers.
Often, marketers will set up paid media campaigns to focus on people most likely to click on an ad. This optimization model assumes most people clicking on an ad will make it to the client site and stay there or interact with it. In reality, the vast majority of clicks on banner ads do not result in actual site visits or engaged site visits. (When comparing clicks on ads to sessions tracked in website analytics, the bounce rate is often in the 70-80% range.)
Pixels optimize media, narrowing the audience pool and focusing ad impressions on people more likely to take a desired action. They enable paid efforts to optimize toward those valuable onsite actions, such as site visits, form submissions or downloads.
In essence, pixels move the focus of paid impressions from quantity of click to quality of click. As clients shift from optimizing on clicks toward optimizing on site visits, historical metrics like click through rates (CTRs) go down and cost per clicks (CPCs) go up. Reporting conversations focus instead on visit rates, cost per visit and volume of visits.
More Valuable Metrics
This brings us to the final benefit of pixels. They strengthen the connection between a paid digital media ad impression and the onsite actions most closely related to client business objectives, better proving the value of these marketing efforts.
Even if a website visitor doesn’t arrive via an ad click, pixels can tie previous paid ad impressions to that visitor and their website actions. This data becomes much more important as clients learn that 80-90% of website visits tied to banner impressions are not direct or click based but view based visits, meaning that the user was exposed to the ad and visited the site at a later time.
Pixels are a critical component of any digital media plan. They enable building first party data, additional targeting, superior optimization, and enhanced reporting that better relates paid media to actual client ROI.
R+K’s Liz Bentz, Associate Director of Paid Media, contributed to this post. If you would like to learn more about how Rhea + Kaiser can take steps toward connecting your digital dollars with your desired business outcomes, contact our Business Development Director firstname.lastname@example.org.
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