Dynamic URL Parameters in AdWords


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Tracking parameters have become a staple for paid search account management.  Parameters allow analytics software to identify key information about incoming traffic.  For example, Google Analytics uses utm parameters to identify the referrer, marketing medium, paid keywords, ads, and product, promo code, or slogan.  Tools like the URL Builder have been created to make it easier for users to create URLs with tracking parameters.  In most cases, this requires the advertiser to create individual URLs for each keyword in the account.  There are ways to make this process easier using excel to build URLs in a batch, but each individual keyword will still need its own URL in the account.

Dynamic URL parameters give the advertiser the ability to pass information about the ad in the URL parameters.  Each engine has its own way of serving ad information into parameters.  AdWords uses a function called ValueTrack to dynamically insert these valuable pieces of information. Below are the different properties you can dynamically insert into URLs.  We created generic parameter names for each example, but you will want to use your own parameters setup in your analytics software.

Differentiate between search and content traffic: {ifsearch:x}{ifcontent:y}

  • For campaigns with Search and Display Network (keyword targeted) traffic, insert your own label or name for search or content traffic instead of x and y.  For our example we simply chose “search” and “content”.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?medium={ifsearch:search}{ifcontent:display}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?medium=search
  • *Best Practice - Separate search and display into their own campaigns.  You won’t need to use this cool dynamic parameter, but it will help separate traffic and improve the performance of your ads.*

Determine which sites referred a visitor: {placement}

  • For Display Network campaigns, {placement} will return the placement domain of the clicked ad.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?placement={placement}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?placement=www.placementdomain.com

Track which ad referred a visitor: {creative}

  • For Search or Display Network campaigns, {creative} will return the creative id of the ad within AdWords.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?creative={creative}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?creative=12345
  • *Hint – Download an Ad Performance report in AdWords and the equivalent report in your analytics software, then use VLOOKUP in Excel to marry this data together.*

See the keyword that referred a visitor: {keyword}

  • For Search or Display Network (keyword-targeted) campaigns, {keyword} will return the targeted keyword.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?keyword={keyword}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?keyword=used&cars

View category or placement you’ve targeted: {target}

  • For Display Network campaigns insert your own label or name for search or content traffic instead of x and y.  For our example we simply chose “search” and “content”.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?target={target}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?target=googleverticalorplacementcode

Indicate a click coming from a mobile device: {ifmobile:x}

  • For campaigns with Search and Display Network traffic, insert your own label or name for mobile traffic instead of x.
  • Implementation: http://www.example.com/?mobile={ifmobile:mobile}
  • Result: http://www.example.com/?mobile=mobile
  • *Best Practice - Create separate campaigns mobile and computer traffic.  Users on mobile devices behave differently than those on computers.  Separate the campaigns and you’ll be able bid separately for each type of device.*

ValueTrack makes the parameter tagging process much easier.  In the future, values like {campaign}, {adgroup}, and maybe even {bidamount} would be great additions to the scope of the tool.

While optimizing a paid search account, it’s no longer enough to just know where the traffic came from.  Understanding key information about the keyword, ad, or device of the visitor will allow you to make more educated decisions while optimizing an account.

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3 thoughts on “Dynamic URL Parameters in AdWords

  1. Roee Gavriel on said:

    the first bolt in the explanation of {target} copy-paste from {ifsearch:x}{ifcontent:y} and it’s probably a mistake.
    cheers

  2. Thanks – this is good information.

    I’m looking into serving a landing page based upon the dynamic insertion of the AdGroup’s name.
    Does anyone know if this is possible?
    Thnx. //M

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