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Tracking Optimisation - Pixel to Server to Server (S2S)

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This article will review:

  • How to upgrade your Pixel tracking solution to Server to Server (S2S)
  • Updating your website to start accepting the 'clickref' value
  • Creating & Implementing a TEST- version of the S2S tracking
  • Reviewing and monitoring the data for comparison checks
  • Switching to the new S2S tracking solution

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Index

Overview

This guide will outline the steps required to upgrade pixel tracking to an Server to Server (S2S) tracking solution.  The goal is to make sure that live pixel tracking activity continues as normal while the new S2S solution is tested fully before switching over.

S2S tracking involves a direct, secure HTTP call, via POST or GET, to the Partnerize tracking API. This server-to-server communication method is transparent to the Web pages on an advertiser’s site, therefore no tracking tags are rendered within the Web browser, which increases the security and accuracy of the tracking. This method also avoids the need for any 3rd party cookie tracking to be involved, which results in an extremely robust and reliable tracking solution.

Implementation Steps

Stage Description Stage Owner
Implement clickref / 1st party cookie Update website to start accepting the 'clickref' value and store in a 1st party cookie Brand
Implementation of TEST- version of S2S tracking solution Implement the 'TEST-' S2S solution to run in conjunction with the current live pixel Brand
Inform Partnerize the TEST- S2S conversion call has been implemented Inform PZ when the 'TEST-' S2S solution is implemented Brand
Review the TEST- S2S data Feedback on performance & syntax of the 'TEST-' S2S tracking Partnerize
Switch from Pixel tracking to S2S tracking Advise brand when tracking can be switched over to the new solution Partnerize
Monitor performance Monitor the new API activity Partnerize & Brand

 

Step 1 - Implement clickref / 1st party cookie

The 'clickref' is generated by Partnerize and passed through into the Advertiser URL/query string at the point of click.

This 'clickref' must be stored by the brand in a 1st party cookie and ultimately returned to Partnerize via the S2S call so that sales can be allocated to the originating publisher.

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NOTE:

  • The most recent clickref should always be passed at the point of sale, so that the last click attribution model is upheld.
  • You will need to begin capturing the clickref for at least the length of time set as your cookie period in advance of switching over the new S2S to live. For example, if your cookie period is 30 days, you will need to capture the clickref for 30 days before the switch over. This is to account for all conversions within the cookie period, where the sales can take place after the changeover, where the click happened prior to the changeover.
  • The 'clickref' is a unique ID which defines a Partnerize click all associated information regarding the click (E.g which partner, creative used, which brand, time&date etc). This 'clickref' is generated every time a link is followed and allows Partnerize to allocate a sale back to a partner.

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Step 2 - Implementation of TEST- version of S2S tracking solution

To ensure that your LIVE pixel tracking solution continues as normal while the new S2S solution is tested, we advise that you implement a TEST- version of the API. This should be implemented to fire in conjunction with the existing Pixel tracking solution. The existing Pixel tracking solution should NOT be amended in any way at this point.

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NOTE:

If these steps are not followed, this could result in tracking issues with LIVE conversions and in turn cause problems with the reporting and commissioning.

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TEST- S2S conversion call:

Here is how a standard pixel example may look:

<img src="https://prf.hn/conversion/campaign:XXXXXXX/conversionref:CONVERSIONREF[category:CATEGORY/sku:SKU/value:VALUE/quantity:QUANTITY]" height="1" width="2" />

Here is how the TEST- S2S conversion call could look:

https://prf.hn/conversion/campaign:TEST-XXXXXXX/clickref:TEST-CLICKREF/tracking_mode:api/conversion_time:YYYY-MM-DD+hh:mm/device:DEVICE/context:CONTEXT/conversionref:CONVERSIONREF/[category:CATEGORY/sku:SKU/value:VALUE/quantity:QUANTITY]

There are new additional parameters which you need to include. Do NOT change the live pixel yet. Simply take the HTTPS call from your existing pixel and then add in these new data parameters.

Parameter:Value Description Required
tracking_mode:api This defines that this is an S2S conversion call Y
campaign:TEST-XXXXXXX This is the Campaign ID but is prefixed with TEST- for the purposes of testing Y
clickref:TEST-CLICKREF This is to be populated with the latest captured CLICKREF, set in a 1st party cookie - Note: TEST- must be prefixed before the clickref value Y
conversion_time:YYYY-MM-DD+hh:mm The exact time that the conversion/order occurred, useful if conversions are being inserted retrospectively.  If this parameter is not included, the time when the S2S conversion call is sent to Partnerize will be used as the conversion time N
device:DEVICE This must be populated with the user device Y
context:CONTEXT This must be populated with the context Y

If you are unable to obtain a copy of your current tracking solution in order to check which parameters need to be included, please contact integrations.support@partnerize.com and we can provide this to you.

Step 3 - Inform Partnerize the TEST- S2S conversion call has been implemented

Once you have implemented the TEST- version of the S2S conversion call to run in conjunction with your LIVE pixel, please inform the Partnerize Integrations team, and performance of the new solution will be monitored.  

Your system should be set up so that when live transactions take place, we should be seeing 2 logs in our Pixel/Server logs

  • Live Pixel
  • TEST- API

The live pixel is used to track your live conversion activity but the TEST- S2S conversion call will not track in the Partnerize platform. We will however still see the TEST- S2S conversion call come through to our server logs. 

Step 4 - Review the TEST- S2S data

Partnerize will now need to monitor and compare the live pixel data with the TEST- S2S conversion call data to make sure everything is correct before advising the brand when to make the switchover.

We will check the following during this process:

  • Live pixel tracking is continuing as normal
  • The volume of TEST- S2S conversion calls match the volume of live pixel calls
  • The TEST- S2S syntax is correct and that the data being passed through matches that of the live pixel
  • The TEST- version includes a valid clickref format value
  • Further internal checks to make sure that the Campaign is ready to switch from pixel tracking to S2S tracking.

Step 5 - Switch from Pixel tracking to S2S tracking

Once Partnerize has performed the necessary checks and can confirm that the data in the TEST- solution looks correct, we will then advise the brand to make the switch over. Only when the clickref has been stored for at least the cookie period (e.g 30 days), will it be possible to make the change.

This involves the following actions by the brand:

  • Brand to remove 'TEST-' from the prefixed Campaign ID value within the TEST- S2S conversion call.
  • Brand to remove 'TEST-' from the prefixed Clickref value within the TEST- S2S conversion call.
  • Remove the old (live) Pixel
  • Informing Partnerize Integrations team that the above three steps have been actioned

BEFORE - Here is how the TEST- S2S conversion call will look BEFORE the changes:

https://prf.hn/conversion/campaign:TEST-XXXXXXX/clickref:TEST-CLICKREF/tracking_mode:api/device:DEVICE/context:CONTEXT/conversionref:CONVERSIONREF/[category:CATEGORY/sku:SKU/value:VALUE/quantity:QUANTITY]

AFTER - Here is how the TEST- S2S conversion call will look AFTER the changes:

https://prf.hn/conversion/campaign:XXXXXXX/clickref:CLICKREF/tracking_mode:api/device:DEVICE/context:CONTEXT/conversionref:CONVERSIONREF/[category:CATEGORY/sku:SKU/value:VALUE/quantity:QUANTITY]

Now that you have removed 'TEST-' from both the Campaign ID and the clickref parameters, this will instantly make this a LIVE S2S conversion call.

The last step is for the brand to turn off the old 'live' pixel, leaving only the live S2S conversion call in place. Instead of deleting old pixel, we would recommend simply turning it off and potentially rename to PZ-OLD so it can easily be reverted back if necessary.

Please inform Partnerize when you have made the changes to the TEST- S2S conversion call and removed the old pixel.

Step 6 - Monitor Performance

Both the brand and Partnerize must monitor the live S2S activity to make sure sales are tracking as expected. 

Once we can see live conversions tracking via API then the work is complete.

Notes & Considerations

If you are currently using a 3rd party container solution to trigger the pixel conditionally, as opposed to being fired directly from a confirmation page, then please read the considerations below:

Typical usages of 3rd parties include :

  • Analysing traffic sources across multiple online channels.
  • Firing the pixels conditionally (as they are implemented alongside other affiliate network pixels), for the purpose of sale de-duplication.

As the container solutions relies heavily on pixels, the S2S tracking solution will BYPASS this 3rd party as it involves a direct HTTP interaction which is outside of their control, which has the following impact:

  • 3rd party not recording the sale within their system since API is not connected
  • No sale duplication between pixels in container vs the API.

As conversion calls will no longer be sent to us directly from the user's browser we can no longer determine the DEVICE and CONTEXT automatically which means you must now pass this data through to us at the point of sale if you wish to continue tracking this data. Further details and examples can be found on the API Integration Document.

Questions

If you have any technical questions with regards to this document, please contact our onboarding specialists at  integrations.support@partnerize.com 

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