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5 facts about UTM tracking parameters • Google Analytics


Wojtek Andrzejczak
5 facts about UTM tracking parameters •...

Google Analytics UTM tracking parameters, what they are, and how to use them in digital advertising.

What Google Analytics UTM’s is?

UTM allows us to tag URLs with information about the source from which the user is coming to our website.

Google Analytics / Acquisition / UTM Tracking parameters
Google Analytics / Acquisition / UTM Tracking parameters

What UTM tracking parameters mean?

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM). Urchin was a software analytics company that has introduced URL tagging for analytics and reporting purposes. In 2005 Urchin Software Corporation was bought by Google, and based on its technology, Google was able to build a new analytics product called Google Analytics. 

So, what is URL tagging?

Tagging is nothing else than adding new parameters (key=value) to the page URL after the question mark “?”. In the case of Google Analytics URL can be tagged by parameters like:

Google Analytics / With and without URL tagging
Google Analytics / With and without URL tagging

Example Google Analytics tagged URL
https://www.example.com/?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=&utm_term=&utm_content=&dclid=

UTM tracking parameters explanation

Before we proceed to set up our campaign, let us quickly discuss what values we should assign to each of the UTM parameters.

utm_source

Source describes the source of the campaign traffic like a platform or website.

  • google – organic or paid traffic
  • bing – organic or paid traffic
  • e-mail – newsletter
  • 9gag.com – direct booking on this domain
  • programmatic – DV360, Xandr, and other bidding platforms.
  • your_company_name – for example, ACME, makes reporting a bit easier.

utm_medium

  • cpc – Google Ads
  • organic – Google Search
  • cpm – typical for programmatic campaigns
  • social-paid – social media campaigns
  • referral – referral link from the other website
  • banner, rec, sky, wb – display creative size format

utm_campaign

The text describes the name of the campaign. Don’t use any special characters.

utm_content

An optional parameter, helpful when we have multiple ad variants, and we’d like to check how each variant performed. Recommended to use together with the Dynamic Creatives. 

utm_term

The term is mostly used by Google Ads to pass keyword/term. If we would need an additional parameter for even more granular reporting in our display programmatic campaigns.

utm_id

ID is an advanced option; instead of using the parameters listed above, we could use an ID key. The problem is that we would need to upload a CSV file with the mapping list of the key-values. If we make a mistake, our data might be corrupted permanently (except you use GA360, it is not a problem to reverse changes).

Note
All keys and values should be always lower case. Do not mix upper case and lower case. In some cases, you might generate a terrible mess in the reporting.

Example landing page URL suffix

Landing page URL suffix, is a term defining part of the URL containing tracking key-value parameters only. Many systems like Google Marketing Platform allows us to set landing page URL suffix in a separate field. The advantage is that you don’t have to append tracking suffix to each ad.

Google Campaign Manager / Landing page URL siffix / UTM tracking parameters
Google Campaign Manager / Landing page URL siffix / UTM tracking parameters

Example for programmatic bookings

  • utm_source=acme
  • utm_medium=programmatic
  • utm_campaign=awsome2020
  • utm_content=rec

Example for direct booking

  • utm_source=acme
  • utm_medium=ft.com
  • utm_campaign=awsome2020
  • utm_content=hpa

Note
128 characters is the maximal length of the landing page URL suffix in Google Campaign Manager and DV360.

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