Wikipedia's current entry on tracking states:
Tracking (meaning leaving a track behind in a static [retrospective] scenario, or following a track in a dynamic scenario [live, online]) comprises all steps required to follow (moving) objects contemporaneously. It is distinct from tracing, which concerns following an object in the past using records, e.g. tracing in programming. The distinction between the two concepts is not clear cut, however, as the term "GPS tracking" is used regardless of whether an object is followed (analyzed) contemporaneously or after the event.
This largely aims to map the observed actual movement for technical purposes. This may involve merging the tracked object with a subsequent object. However, more simply, this type of use can also involve discovering the tracked object's current location.
Tracking an object and modeling its movement behavior across the earth's surface reflects the concepts of classic dead reckoning.
Tracking can also concern the replication of a physiological or economic process.
Confusing? ..... Definitely!
– This is how we define tracking in online marketing:
Tracking means monitoring (predominantly by virtual means) the movement patterns of a consumer who contacts our company in any way at all.
Marketing is always faced with the same problem. The company earmarks money to take measures aimed at making its brand better known, raising its profile, and ultimately boosting revenue.
It might seem like the marketing department has a great time, getting to spend money on really cool stuff.
However, that's not really been the case for quite some time now.
A company wants to see results and is prepared to spend every single cent of its advertising budget on achieving them in as granular a way as possible.
Being able to draw conclusions so that even just fairly well-founded statements can be made means marketers need to measure consumers, their behavior, and the associated advertising measures.
It's basically like placing a little spy on the shoulder of every consumer: whenever the consumer contacts the company in any way, via what are known as touchpoints, the spy sends a report to the company headquarters.
As a result, tracking forms the basis for performance marketing and makes it possible to optimize the marketing budget to achieve the company's goals most effectively.
There are countless types and names of specialist tracking techniques. Let's take a look at the most important and most widely used ones.
When consumers surf the internet, small text files called cookies are stored in their browser (unless action has been taken to prevent this). These cookies allow website operators and providers such as Google to identify a user on the internet and track that user's surfing behavior.
So if a consumer visits a website, receives a cookie there, and then visits the same website again the next day, he or she will usually still be carrying the same cookie. This enables the website operator to track that visitor's behavior within its website.
Cookies have other, quite different functions too, however. In an online shop, for example, shopping cart functions or the customer login are largely facilitated by cookies.
Cookie tracking enables the company to see how a user moves around its website without knowing exactly who the user is. This gives the company important data about that visitor that can be put to effective use in the company's marketing. If the user stays logged out and does not leave personal data on the website, they remain anonymous despite the use of cookie technology.
With pixel tag tracking, transparent images with dimensions of 1x1 pixels are built into a web page or in an email by the company. These images are then loaded from the server when the website or email is opened. Data about the website visit/reading of the email is then recorded by the server so that success can be measured.
Ultrasonic beacons are a sequence of high-frequency sounds that are emitted by a "transmitter." The sound is inaudible to humans.
However, devices that are located nearby can respond to it.
These beacons are used to close the gap between the online world and offline world.
A manager of a bricks-and-mortar store installs a beacon in the entrance. A consumer with a smartphone walks into the store. The marketer can now follow this customer both in the physical world and the digital world. It can also track the customer's online and offline activities that form their customer journey.
Call tracking links a website visit to a phone number. In other words, if a consumer accesses a website that uses call tracking, the visitor is shown an individual phone number. The number is inserted into the website dynamically using a script.
If the potential customer goes on to call the company in question on that number, the company can link the physical call with the website visitor's digital track.
This makes it possible to integrate phone calls into the customer journey and to use them as a measurement in digital marketing.
If a consumer visits a website, the user's device gives the website very specific information about the device and its settings.
These settings, which are often highly individual, enable the user to be tracked very precisely without the need for technologies such as cookies or IP addresses.