Pixel Tracking 101.1

The Influencer has been touting the advantages of the tried and true “How Did You Hear About Us” (HDYHAU or Hi-Dee-How) survey and why it’s been the gold standard in measuring non-direct conversions for an offline campaign for years. However, over the past few months, pixel tracking has been making major strides as a proven, secondary source of truth for marketers to use for calculating the non-direct attribution of offline campaigns, specifically on Podcast. 

Why Pixel Track Anyway?

Despite its ease of use and wide adoption, the post-purchase survey methodology has its limitations, and many marketers feel a survey in any form is problematic. A report from OpinionLab indicates that nearly three quarters (72%) of consumers said surveys interfere with the experience of a website. According to the report, 80% of customers have abandoned a survey halfway through. As a result, marketers often net low response rates and unpredictable data. Pixel tracking provides a second data point to validate non-direct conversions from the podcast campaign without requiring the consumer to do anything.

Who’s doing it?

The list has been growing, but Claritas (formerly Barometric), Chartable, LeadsRx, PodTrac, Artsai, and Podsights are leading the charge for pixel tracking of podcasts — with the latter quickly becoming a major player in the space. Though their methodologies vary slightly, the basic technologies are similar. At Oxford Road, we’ve been testing all of these attribution partners with various clients to evaluate their effectiveness. So far, the results are solid. 

Over the past few months, we’ve been able to see many of these pixel tracking partners measure campaign results that are in line with what we’ve seen using the tried-and-true survey methodology — and while we’re not abandoning a survey-based approach, our confidence in pixel-tracking is growing.

How does it work?

First, the client sets up tracking pixels at various points within their funnel (landing page, vanity URLs, post-conversion page, etc.) at least 15-days before launch to establish a baseline (this has been updated since the last analysis to account for partners who can establish baselines faster). 

Next, we identify which podcasts in your buy can actually place pixels. From our experience, 40% – 50% of the podcasts  (this is increasing every month and should continue to do so) our advertisers regularly buy can place pixels depending on which publishing platform each podcast uses (Megaphone, Art19, Triton, etc.).

Quality providers like those mentioned above have developed a robust control and exposure methodology to isolate the ‘baseline’ level of interest and activity on a client’s website. This is crucial because it prevents over-estimating the impact of your Podcast investment on your business. Vendors use different methodologies and your choice of partner may well (at least in part) depend on whose methodology you like. In our view, there is quite a range in their strength and reliability. 

Moreover, many attribution partners offer, free of charge, a dashboard for clients and agencies to see real-time data on the performance of the campaign. 

For clients who rely on an app, many of these vendors now have integrations pre-built with different app analytics vendors. It’s recommended to verify if the attribution vendor has integrations with your app analytics provider before selecting a partner.

How to track performance on non-pixel-based podcasts?

To measure the performance of non-pixel-based podcasts, we calculate the difference between direct and indirect performance on pixel-based shows and extrapolate the rest. For example, if a pixel-tracked show has a ratio of 1:5 direct versus the attributed response, we can apply a 5x multiplier to the non-pixel-based shows.

How much does it cost?

Some podcast networks are adding pixel tracking free of charge with a minimum buy. While this may seem enticing, it may involve buying shows that wouldn’t typically be recommended for your campaign. Our best practice has been to build a podcast plan based on cross-client performance, client comps, third-party data, and show content, regardless of whether these podcasts can support pixel tracking. Once the plan is finalized, we will determine which podcasts can place pixels and implement accordingly. This approach may generate a $1 – $2 increase in CPM on the trackable podcasts, and the end result is a stronger campaign that only includes the shows with the best opportunity to perform. As an example, let’s say we have a $200k podcast campaign. If 35% of the podcasts on the plan can place pixels, the incremental spend for pixel tracking would be an additional $4,667 based on an average CPM and upcharge — well worth the investment if you meet the criteria below.

Should you pixel track your campaign?

Yes!

Companies that cannot utilize a post-purchase survey in their funnel must consider pixel tracking, as it is the surest way to calculate non-direct performance of the campaign outside of a survey. Ignoring the non-direct performance is a surefire way to fail. Even if you have a survey in place, pixel tracking is a way to validate results and build confidence in the non-direct campaign performance. There are always skeptics about surveys hidden away in the woodwork, and this is a way to be prepared to confront their concerns.

Conclusion

Even if your company uses a post-purchase survey, pixel tracking will provide a second data point to estimate the non-direct performance of your podcast campaign.

It is important to note that despite its strides in the past months, pixel-based methodology is still in its early stages. At this point, we believe that this is quickly becoming the standard in the space, but should not yet replace your post-purchase survey. Viewing both methodologies in tandem will give you more data and allow you to evaluate your overall attribution puzzle. While no attribution methodology is 100% accurate (those who tell you otherwise are bald-faced liars), the goal is to find convergence in data signals. In its current state, pixel tracking podcasts is now a major part of the equation to validate what could be one of the most profitable acquisition channels in your marketing portfolio. To learn more about how pixel tracking can be used in your podcast campaign, email us at influencer@oxfordroad.com.

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