Using “Belt & Suspenders” Tracking to Scale with Confidence

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you know who’s been swimming naked.” 

-Warren Buffett

…And if your proverbial swim trunks are the strong foundation of a healthy and scalable business, you’d better believe you’ll want a back up plan to ensure those board shorts aren’t going anywhere. A belt and suspenders: to keep everything firmly in place when the unexpected occurs. 


For advertisers, this belt + suspenders combo has to be a multiple conversion tracking system, i.e. security for your actionable insights — especially in those unforeseen “low tide” circumstances. As many veteran media buyers know, there is something worse than an unsuccessful campaign: a profitable campaign that you don’t know about. 


If you have campaign gold at your fingertips, but no way to measure its success or scale to its maximum potential, then you’re ultimately losing money (possibly a lot of it) by omission. This is why a multi-tracking strategy is so valuable: it covers all your campaign insight bases and ensures golden opportunities aren’t passing you by. To keep your pants up — and keep a robust foundation for growth — having three specific tracking systems for every campaign is key. 

The Full Coverage System

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Implementing a solid, bases-covered tracking system means understanding both human and machine-generated insights that impact the profitability of your campaign. When we work with clients, we always ensure their tracking system has three primary parts: a tracking pixel, a third party analytics system, and a database report. 


Tracking Pixel

For your campaign, this may be Facebook Pixel, Google Pixel, Taboola Pixel, etc., but the purpose remains the same: to feed signals to the algorithm so that machine learning can take place. Essentially, this is your engine that tracks events, from impressions and email opens to conversions and sales. It also tells you where traffic is coming from and other direct online info about your users, which is crucial to leverage in your campaign targeting effort. 


Third Party Analytics

This is the “human insights” portion of your tracking, which gives you access to stitched together data about your audience from online activity, offline device location, and other anonymous insights. When this data is tracked, condensed, and analyzed, it provides an invaluable picture of your audience as people, from which you can hone your advertising approach. Think Google Analytics, Hyros, or  Wicked Reports – many options exist at various price points.


Database Reporting 

The final tracking system is database reports, which come from platforms like Shopify, Keep, or your proprietary CRM. By tracking this kind of individual data, you reinforce the value of the first two tracking systems. I.e. you make sure the people being tracked are, in fact, real customers that are paying you real money, to whom you’re really going to be providing products. 


For those uninitiated in the Belt and Suspenders method, this may seem a bit repetitive. But it’s the final reinforcement of database reporting that essentially validates the data from the first two systems, making it both worthwhile and a failsafe in the event of unforeseen tracking complications. With all three in place, it’s rare that you’ll ever find yourself unaware of how your campaign is performing. 

How To Illuminate Your Blind Spots

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As we’ve mentioned before, the unforeseen does happen — and may even begin to happen more frequently as new developments in data privacy crop up. Take the release of the infamous iOS 14: an Apple update that significantly limited the third party data collection all at once. 


Many advertisers were caught “swimming naked” as anywhere from 20%-50% of the conversions they were tracking with Facebook Pixel disappeared overnight. Of course, if you’re a single-tracking-system advertiser, you just lost your primary compass for how to manage your campaign. 


It’s that lost and unknown percentage of data that poses a problem. How can you make an informed decision about ad spending when you’re missing up to half of the conversion data? And who’s to say if that 50% of lost data actually demonstrated super profitable performance…but you dialed back spending due to lack of information? That’s a huge missed opportunity, if so — and a big loss for the advertiser. 


However, advertisers with three tiered tracking systems were able to shine a light on this unexpected blind spot and quantify what the pixel was missing. Being able to quantify exactly how much tracking you’ve lost is a powerful tool to inform your bidding strategy and optimize your campaigns without interruption.


Ultimately, this is what makes a three-system strategy so worth it. It’s one of the most powerful foundations you can lay to create a successful, scalable media buying strategy because it paints a full picture of your campaign performance even when the unexpected occurs. Verifying your data, quantifying your blind spots, and mapping out a fully informed spending strategy means a solid chance at major success — one that won’t leave you with your pants down in the waves. 

Looking for expert strategists to handle the unknowns for you? Apply to start scaling with O’Connell Digital Media Group.