At present we usually receive all kinds of emails to the Gmail or Outlook box. From the offers from the supermarket, the gym, notifications from our social networks and even from online stores in which, at some point in our lives, we register to buy a product. All these messages want to know if they are opened and read or if, on the contrary, ignored.
This information is very valuable for companies, for marketers and newsletter writers, as they are key when it comes to analyzing or understanding your audience.
To do this, companies use a tool called tracking pixel, which is embedded in some part of the mail we receive. This is the most common way for companies to know if the message was opened or not.
The tracking pixel works in such a way that, when the image in which it is embedded is loaded, it notifies the company, and it can only be loaded when the mail is opened.
Facebook popularized its tracking pixel to measure ad performance Photo: REUTERS
It seems that it is a simple practice that has been used in communication via email for many years. In addition, these pixels also provide other information such as the day and time the email was opened and the location of the device at that time.
With this tool, companies can see what information works best, what interests their contact list the most and how to create messages so that they appeal better to the audience.
It is also a way to check the performance of your advertising investment. On the other hand, it can be disconcerting that our inbox is a bunch of eyes waiting to be opened.
On social media, for example, the Facebook pixel is a code that can be placed on your website and works as an analysis tool. This code allows you to collect information to track Facebook Ads conversions, optimize advertisements, build segmented audiences and redirect you to the public that has already taken an action on the website.
How to prevent tracking pixels
Probably the best way to prevent this from happening is by changing the settings so that the images of the emails you receive don’t load by default within your email application. Visually, the messages will not be the same, but your privacy will be protected.
In Gmail, you can change it from See all settings, General, inside select Images and finally, click on Ask before showing external images.
If you are using Outlook or another third-party email client on a desktop or mobile device, you can also enable this setting, which is usually found within the application settings.
Other configurations, such as macOS, require access to Preferences, within the Mail application of our Mac, then Viewing and finally, uncheck “Load remote content in messages”. From a mobile device the procedure is the same.
In the Chrome browser you can block the tracking pixel through its settings.
The browsers -Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge- also have extensions that allow you to see the tracking pixels.
A valid option to avoid it is browse anonymously or using proxy servers to prevent automatic downloading of tracking pixels.
You can also lock tracking pixels disabling the browser scripts, although this requires some programming knowledge.
With information from La Vanguardia.