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}

Track which ad referred a visitor: {creative}

See the keyword that referred a visitor: {keyword}

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

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.