Published June 18, 2018

What is Campaign Tracking?

Campaign tracking is a method of identifying which traffic is being driven to a website by individual advertising campaigns. A tracking code is created after a user clicks on an ad, which causes a referring URL to be generated with certain information encoded in it.

These codes are referred to as Urchin Tracking Mechanism (UTM) codes, named after a company called Urchin Software created tracking codes used to track website traffic. Google bought Urchin Software in 2005 and their technology was used as the backbone of Google Analytics. Because Google as an advertising industry leader uses these codes, many other solutions are built to read them and take advantage of the data as well.

UTM codes are not limited to just online advertising. If a merchant is placing a print, radio, or another type of ad, UTM codes can be leveraged by using a special vanity URL that customers are directed to.

For example, www.acme.com could set up www.acme.com/radio for a radio ad. This URL would use a redirect to include the UTM tags and therefore track a visitor just like an online ad. Using this tracking method will allow a merchant to easily track all their advertising campaigns in one solution.

How do UTM Codes Work?

A URL with UTM tags may appear as:

https://www.acme.com/? utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Saturday%20Morning&utm_term=How%20To%20Prepare, with the bolded portion of the URL the UTM encoding portion. This section contains things like the source, content, medium, and certain keyword terms.

UTM codes are established when the advertising campaign is first created, whether it is by an agency or an internal team. The UTM codes are broken down into five arguments that identify distinct attributes of an advertising campaign.

The chart below identifies the UTM arguments:

ArgumentDescriptionExamples
utm_campaignCampaign Name
Mandatory tag for the campaign name.
spring_sale
grand_opening
back_to_school
utm_sourceCampaign Source
Mandatory identifier of the traffic source.
Newsletter
Blog
Radio
utm_contentCampaign Content
Additional tag used to identify traffic details within a campaign.
Logolink
Textlink
utm_mediumCampaign Medium
Additional tag used to identify how the ad was displayed.
spring_sale
Social
CPC
Email
utm_termCampaign Term
Search term keywords that drove traffic to an ad.
spring_sale
cat+food
goes+to+eleven
fraud+solution

Analyzing Ad Campaigns

By setting up a program to parse the data from UTM tags as a visitor enters a website, businesses can analyze the nature of their traffic and begin optimizing their campaigns.

Using NS8 Protect or NS8 TrueStats, merchants can track each of their campaigns and improve their advertising ROI. These services parse UTM data automatically after a merchant installs our platform app or tracking script, so there is no extra setup on the customer’s behalf.

UTM data is combined with EQ8 scoring data to analyze website traffic. A merchant can then identify campaigns that generated low scoring traffic and discontinue or modify them to reduce the prevalence of fraud. Campaigns that create high value traffic will also be identified and a merchant can then focus more effort on campaigns that product the best results.

NS8 Protect

Protect your storefront from advertising fraud and the other revenue killers.

Learn More