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What If an Advertiser Just Wants to See Traffic from a Specific Ad Campaign? UTM Codes

So far, I’ve shared four essential Google Analytics Reports, and explained why campaign reports may not match Google Analytics reports. Now let’s look at how to isolate specific campaign traffic using UTM codes.

If an advertiser wants to isolate specific traffic to his/her website from a specific digital ad campaign, they must use UTM codes. A UTM code is a piece of code placed at the end of a click-through landing page URL to track the campaign name, medium, and source. Using these codes, Google Analytics software can determine where traffic is coming from.

For example, an advertiser might want the click-through landing page for an ad to be their frequent shopper signup page at: http://www.client.com/signup

To track what channels are sending people to that specific page, you or the advertiser would add a UTM code (in italics below) to track the click-through landing page. The URL + UTM code would look like this:  

http://www.client.com/signup?utm_source=DigitalCompany&utm_medium=DisplayAd&utm_campaign=WinterSale

(To learn about how to create UTM codes, read this blog post.)

For advertisers using UTM codes, a Google Analytics UTM Codes Report report will look like this:

 

To navigate to this report:

  1. Click on “ACQUISITION” on the left side column.
  2. Click on “CAMPAIGNS.”
  3. Click on “ALL CAMPAIGNS.”

 

Whatever naming you or the advertiser has inserted into the UTM code will appear under the “CAMPAIGN” column heading. As you can see above, this advertiser is doing two sets of Native Ad Creative, Pay Per Click ads, Facebook ads, email, and tracking visits to their blog.

You should explain to the advertiser that there are some limitations with using UTM codes:

Even using UTM codes, not all traffic that the digital ad campaign drives to a client’s website will appear in their Google Analytics reports. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Users might have set their browser preferences in ways that prevent website analytics from collecting data.  
  2. Google uses bots to audit and click on ads (mostly in their hubs, like California) to test ads before they go live. UTM codes pick up on this, and often you get several UTM clicks from this state throughout the duration of the campaign, with a 100% bounce rate and zero seconds on the site. Sunnyvale and San Francisco are the two biggest auditing sites, which you can see in your Google Analytics Channels report.
  3. If a user comes to your site from an ad, and then leaves the landing page before the tracking code executes, then the code is never passed to the Google servers, and that click is not registered as a session. This is called server latency,and may indicate an issue with the advertiser’s website loading speed. 
  4. Google Analytics also has limitations when it comes to correctly “sourcing” where traffic comes from. For example, Google Analytics will list mobile app traffic (traffic coming from ads people see on their mobile devices) as DIRECT rather than REFERRAL.
  5. Some browsers give users the option to disable images that are requested from domains other than the current page. Disabling such images will prevent data from being sent to Google Analytics.
  6. A visitor may click on your ad, but then change his/her mind and prevent the page from fully loading. This can happen by clicking to another page or by pressing the browser’s stop or back buttons. In this case, the UTM code doesn’t fire and Google Analytics doesn’t register a visit… but the ad server still counts this as a click.

 

We hope our Google Analytics guides help you feel more comfortable in using Google Analytics.

Understanding Google Analytics reports sets you apart from your competition. And that’s why all Vici Trainers are Google Analytics Certified! Learn more at Vici Media.

Leslye Schumacher is a founding partner with Vici Media, Inc., a full-service digital advertising technology company. Leslye’s background in media spans 25 years and includes working for both large and mid-size television, radio and newspaper companies. She is Google Analytics Advanced Certified, a Certified Radio Marketing Consultant and a Certified Sales Talent Analyst, having assessed over 10,000 media salespeople and managers. 

© 2019 Vici Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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