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}

  • 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}

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.