Snapchat Is Finally Opening Up Pixel Tracking for Marketers to Measure Cross-Platform Stats

Tool will tie together website traffic and ad exposure

Snapchat is opening up pixel tracking. Getty Images
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

A year ago, TechStyle—the parent company to ecommerce brands Fabletics, JustFab and ShoeDazzle—began running Snapchat ads to promote shoe and apparel merchandise. But like other stats-obsessed ecommerce companies, TechStyle’s advertising has one goal: Sell more stuff, and the retailer didn’t have a direct way to tell if someone bought a product after seeing an ad.

In recent weeks, the retailer has been one of the first advertisers to test Snapchat’s long-awaited conversion pixel that allows advertisers to create pieces of code on websites to track specific actions that someone takes after seeing an ad. Dubbed Snap Pixel, Snapchat’s proprietary conversion pixels are the first step in building out Snapchat’s performance-based advertising model that’s geared toward direct response marketers that want to connect the dots between ads served within the app and website traffic.

Facebook, Google and others also offer pixels or tags that help advertisers measure and target their ads. Before beginning to ramp up its ads business a couple of years ago, Snapchat famously shied away from sophisticated targeted ads, with CEO Evan Spiegel calling those ads “creepy.” But like all ad-supported tech platforms, Snapchat is building out an ad-tech stack with measurement, analytic and tracking tools to compete alongside heavyweights in digital advertising.

“It’s still pretty early days so there are some things that we’re testing and learning on, but we want to get as much data as we can,” said Laura Joukovski, svp of media at TechStyle Fashion Group. “The pixel gives us a whole new and better way of seeing what’s going on and a new opportunity to harvest direct-response signals beyond the click.”

Advertisers first create a pixel within Snapchat’s ad-buying tool by picking a website to track. For example, a retailer may want to see how many people visited the page on their ecommerce site after someone makes a purchase to measure who saw an ad and then converted on a website. Or, an advertiser could track the confirmation page of a website that someone sees after signing up for an email newsletter to see if Snap Ads led someone to fill out a form.

Once a pixel is set up, marketers can keep track of campaign stats in real time and analyze data collected within 28 days after someone has viewed or engaged with an ad. By the end of the year, the tags will include ad targeting that will allow brands to hone in on specific audiences and groups of people who have visited their websites. Snapchat will allow users to opt-out of retargeting.

“If you look at other digital marketing platforms, you’ve got Facebook and Google—they have very sophisticated tooling for direct-response advertisers,” Joukovski said. “Snapchat understands that if they want to play the game with us, they’ve got to give us tools.”

However, unlike Facebook and Google, Snapchat’s pixels are only being used for measurement initially. By the end of the year, the tags will include ad targeting that will allow brands to hone in on specific audiences and groups of people who have visited their websites.

“The pixel can be used to optimize the auction bidding around your conversion and try to serve ads to people who are most likely to convert based on their understanding of people’s behavior on other sites,” explained Joukovski. “Snapchat is not there yet.”

The results so far are promising. In its first test with Snap Pixels, TechStyle lowered the cost-per-purchase from its ads by 40 to 60 percent, which tracked the number of people who bought something within 24 hours of seeing an ad. For ShoeDazzle specifically, the cost-per-purchase was 63 percent while cost-per-sign up was 48 percent under their goal.

In terms of driving new leads, the retailer achieved a cost-per-sign up that was 30 to 50 percent lower than their goal. TechStyle claims that it was able to attribute 28 percent more conversions from its Snapchat ads by looking at a one day’s worth of view-through attribution. TechStyle did not provide specific revenue or sales data about its brands.

“There’s a whole population of people who are exposed to these ads that we’re going to be able to learn about—how are they interacting with the ads and how it’s driving them to the site,” she said.

Signet Jewelers—which owns Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared—also plans to use Snap Pixel, and Omnicom’s Resolution Media is testing the tool for several retailers during the fourth quarter, though the agency declined to name specific clients.

Sarah Perkins, U.S. social lead for Resolution Media added that the upcoming ad-targeting portion to Snap Pixel will be particularly intriguing for setting up sophisticated placements. “It will make our targeting much more sophisticated and smart compared to some of the other targeting ways on the platform,” she said.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.