Podcast Pixel Tracking 101

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 still the gold standard in measuring non-direct conversions for an offline campaign. This week, we will share our take on the growing pixel-based methodology that has emerged over the past year.

Why Pixel Track Anyway?

Despite its ease of use and wide adoption, survey methodologies have their 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, and 52% of customers said that they would not spend more than 3 minutes filling out a feedback form. As a result, marketers 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?

While the list grows every week, Claritas (formerly Barometric), Chartable, LeadsRx, and PodTrac are leading the charge for pixel tracking in podcast. Though their methodologies vary, the basic technologies are very similar. At Oxford Road, we’re currently testing all four of these attribution partners with various clients to evaluate their effectiveness.

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 30-days prior to launch to establish a baseline.

Next, we identify which podcasts in your buy can actually place pixels. From our experience, 30% – 40% of the podcasts our advertisers regularly buy can place pixels depending on what platform the podcast uses (Megaphone, Art19, AdsWizz, etc.). If the podcast can place pixels, the attribution partner will drop a millisecond-length audio pixel into the show’s content that is undetectable to the listener.

Quality providers like those mentioned above use a robust control and exposed 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 Podcast on your business. Be aware that certain unscrupulous agents are keen to push less robust methodologies on to their clients, as they show their channels to be performing better than they really are.

For clients who rely on an app (think the Headspaces of the world), certain vendors 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 much does it cost?

Some podcast networks are adding pixel tracking free of charge with a minimum buy. While this seems 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 and show content, regardless of whether these podcasts can support pixel tracking. Once the plan is finalized, we determine which podcasts can place pixels and implement accordingly. While this approach may generate a $1 – $5 bump in CPM on the trackable podcasts, 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 $5,833 based on an average CPM of $30 and a $3 upcharge, and well worth the investment if you meet the criteria below.

Should you pixel track your campaign?

Maybe…

Companies that cannot utilize a post-purchase survey in their funnel should consider pixel tracking, as it is the surest way to calculate non-direct performance.

If your company uses a post-purchase survey but internal buy-in on the methodology is in question, pixel tracking can provide a second data point for validation.

For advertisers who trust the survey methodology to measure channel performance, pixel tracking can add another view of campaign performance and should also be considered for validation purposes.

Despite all of the interest around pixel tracking podcast, it’s important to note that the methodology is still in an early stage. As pixel tracking podcasts matures, it may very well become the standard, 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 one attribution methodology is truly accurate, your goal is to find convergence in data signals and even at its current state, this is something pixel tracking can provide.

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