Explicit vs Implicit Tracking: The Pros and Cons Explained

Explicit vs Implicit Tracking: The Pros and Cons Explained cover

If you want to know more about your product, you need data. The more data you can capture about your customers, the better you can understand them and improve your product. Two methods of tracking customer data are implicit data event tracking and explicit tracking. This article will help you understand the explicit vs. implicit tracking debate and which is right for your needs.


  • Explicit event tracking monitors specific user actions on digital platforms to understand behavior and guide improvements.
  • Implicit tracking collects broad behavior data automatically, helping improve digital platforms’ usability without targeting specific actions.
  • Explicit event tracking allows for customized, efficient data collection focused on specific needs.
  • Explicit tracking offers direct control over data collection, enhancing security, customization, and compliance with privacy standards.
  • Explicit event tracking bypasses client-side ad blockers, ensuring a complete and accurate dataset.
  • Explicit tracking requires significant technical resources and investment, posing a challenge for organizations with limited budgets.
  • Comprehensive planning is essential for explicit event tracking to ensure data aligns with strategy and supports informed decision-making.
  • Implementing explicit event tracking requires a lengthy process involving planning, development, and analysis, necessitating a careful evaluation of its value versus effort.
  • Implicit codeless event tracking, or “no code analytics,” requires minimal technical expertise, making analytics accessible.
  • Implicit tracking offers quick deployment and user-friendly analysis, simplifying data collection and insights without deep technical expertise.
  • Implicit event tracking provides continuous, retroactive data collection, allowing for flexible adaptation and deep insights into evolving customer behavior.
  • Implicit tracking’s auto-capture approach limits customization, potentially leading to irrelevant data and challenges in sifting for insights.
  • Implicit event tracking is vulnerable to ad blockers, potentially creating data gaps and challenging the completeness of customer behavior analytics.
  • Product updates can disrupt implicit event tracking due to its dependency on website or app code, requiring regular adjustments to maintain data collection.
  • If you want to implement implicit or explicit tracking within your product, Usepilot is a great choice of codeless tracking tools. Book a demo now and see how Userpilot can help.

Try Userpilot and Take Your Product Experience to the Next Level

What is explicit event tracking?

Explicit event tracking is a method where website or app creators capture data of specific actions you take while using their digital platform. It’s like a digital checklist that marks off when you click a button, watch a video, or submit a form. This same tracking approach is “explicit” because only certain pre-decided actions are monitored.

This type of tracking is a way for you to understand customer behavior—what features are popular, how users interact with their site, and what improvements could be made. For example, to determine if many users click on a particular feature, the creators might make it more prominent.

What is implicit event tracking?

Implicit event tracking (also known as codeless tracking) is a subtler way of understanding how you interact with websites and apps without necessarily targeting predefined actions. Unlike explicit tracking, where developers decide which actions to monitor, implicit tracking automatically gathers data on your overall behavior.

This method collects data in the background as you navigate through a site or app, such as how long you spend on a page, how you scroll, and how you move through the site. Access to all the data helps creators see the bigger picture of how their platform is used, identifying trends and patterns in user behavior that aren’t linked to specific, targeted actions.

A screenshot of event tracking in Userpilot part of explicit vs implicit tracking
Track events with Userpilot.

Pros and cons of explicit event tracking

Explicit event tracking has strengths and limitations, which are crucial for enhancing user experience. Let’s examine what makes explicit event tracking both valuable and challenging.


More customization

One of the standout benefits of explicit event tracking is its capacity for more customization, especially in data-driven analytics. By setting up explicit tracking, you can create events that specify additional conditions, characteristics, and properties that align with your goals. This tailored approach means you can focus on collecting contextual data that is narrow, meaningful, and specific to your needs.

This targeted collection translates into efficiency. Instead of wading through irrelevant explicit data, you gather the necessary information.

Direct control of data

Another significant advantage of explicit event tracking is its direct control over the collected data. Unlike other methods that rely on third-party integrations with explicit tracking, systems are typically built in-house. This approach reduces dependencies on external services and enhances the security and customization of the explicit data collection process.

Having systems developed internally means you can tailor the setup to fit your needs, including adjusting permissions, roles, and how explicit data is stored. This level of control is crucial for maintaining data integrity and ensuring that the collected information aligns with your privacy standards and compliance requirements.

No threat from ad blockers

A notable perk of explicit event tracking is its resilience against client-side ad blockers. Since the tracking mechanisms are often part of your backend system, they operate beyond the reach of ad blockers that typically work by filtering content on the user’s browser.

By circumventing ad blockers, explicit event tracking guarantees that your analytics aren’t skewed by missing data points. This advantage means you get a complete picture of user interactions, crucial for making informed decisions and understanding how users engage with your website or app.

A screenshot of an ad blocker that doesn't affect explicit tracking
Ad blocker example.


Strong dependence on tech resources

A significant drawback of explicit event tracking is its heavy reliance on technical resources. You need a dedicated engineering team to plan, implement, and maintain explicit tracking systems. This isn’t just about having the right people; it’s about investing time and effort into setting up a system that can accurately track the specific events you’re interested in.

Moreover, this reliance on specialized technical teams translates into a larger budget requirement. Hiring and maintaining a tech team to manage your explicit event-tracking system can significantly increase operational costs, which can pose a challenge for organizations with limited resources.

In-depth planning can’t be skipped

When it comes to explicit event tracking, diving into the deep end without a solid plan isn’t an option. This method requires a comprehensive event data tracking and management plan, which is integral to your data product roadmap. This planning goes beyond merely deciding which events to track; it involves understanding how this data fits into your overall strategy and how it will be used to drive decisions.

The need for such detailed planning means allocating more time, budget, and effort upfront. Without this investment in planning, you risk collecting explicit data that may not be useful or missing out on crucial insights that could inform your strategy.

Longer to implement

Embarking on explicit event tracking is not a quick journey. The entire process encompasses numerous steps that significantly extend the timeline. It starts with hiring engineers, followed by meticulous planning, writing the necessary code, training, implementing the system, and collecting and analyzing the data.

This extended timeline necessitates evaluating the process using a value versus effort framework. Such a framework helps determine whether explicit event tracking outcomes justify the extensive effort and time investment.

A diagram showing the value vs effort framework
The value vs effort framework.

Pros and cons of implicit event tracking

Implicit event tracking offers a different perspective on user interface interactions, balancing ease of use with depth of insight. Let’s unravel the benefits and challenges of implicit event tracking in digital environments.


Less reliance on tech teams

A significant advantage of implicit event tracking is its minimal reliance on tech teams, often called “no code analytics.” This approach requires little technical expertise to deploy and gather insights, making it accessible for teams without a dedicated tech background.

One notable example of this approach is Userpilot’s codeless tracking and AI analytics. This platform enables teams to track customer behavior and gather data without writing a single line of code, thanks to its intuitive design and the use of artificial intelligence to analyze user interactions. The shift towards tools like Userpilot represents a broader trend in implicit codeless event tracking: making powerful analytics accessible to a wider range of users and teams, ultimately democratizing data analysis and reducing dependency on specialized technical personnel.

A screenshot of Userpilot AI analysis feature
Use AI to carry out analysis with Userpilot.

Easy and fast to implement

Implicit event tracking stands out for its simplicity and speed in deployment. Unlike its explicit data counterpart, which requires extensive planning and development, implicit tracking requires minimal upfront planning. It can often be initiated by adding just a single line of code to your website or app.

Moreover, tools that support implicit codeless event tracking, such as Userpilot, come equipped with user-friendly dashboards that make it easy to visualize and understand the data collected.

A screenshot of the implementation of no code implicit event tracking
Implement no code tracking with Userpilot.

Retroactive data

A compelling benefit of implicit event tracking is the accumulation of retroactive event data. From the moment the tracking begins, data is continuously collected, providing a wealth of historical information. This rich dataset becomes a treasure trove for identifying patterns and trends, offering deep insights into how user behavior evolves.

What’s particularly advantageous about this approach is its flexibility in expanding your tracking criteria. As your understanding of what data is valuable evolves, you can add more events and tags without losing the historical context.

A screenshot showing historical data capture in Userpilot
View historical event data with Userpilot.


Less flexibility

One of the drawbacks of implicit event tracking is its inherent lack of flexibility. Because data is auto-captured without specific parameters, there’s a notable limit to how much you can customize what information is gathered. This means that while a broad range of data is collected automatically, the lack of customization might result in missing out on specific data or context crucial for deeper insights.

Furthermore, the abundance of automatically collected event data necessitates sifting through potentially large datasets to find the information that is truly relevant to your needs. This can be time-consuming, with the risk of overlooking important details amidst the volume.

Exposure to ad blockers

A notable limitation of implicit event tracking is its vulnerability to ad blockers. Many users employ ad-blocking software on their browsers, which can inadvertently block the scripts used. This means that despite the system’s design to automatically capture a wide range of user interactions, some events might not be recorded.

This exposure to ad blockers can lead to gaps in the data collected, making it challenging to get a complete picture of user behavior.

Tracking interruptions

Implicit event tracking often hinges on the delicate balance between the tracking tools and the website or app’s underlying code, such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Product changes or updates can inadvertently break the code that enables tracking, leading to interruptions in data collection. This fragility means that even small adjustments in the product’s design or functionality can disrupt the seamless gathering of user interaction data.

Anticipating how product updates affect tracking tools is a key part of this process. Regularly testing and updating the tracking setup in conjunction with product changes can help mitigate the risk of interruptions.


Implicit tracking and explicit tracking both have good points and bad. It’s just a matter of understanding what is right for you or even considering that both are the right choices.

If you want help collecting implicit and explicit data, then Userpilot can help. Want to find out more? Book a demo now!

Try Userpilot and Take Your Product Experience to the Next Level

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