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You Ask, I Answer: Tracking Display Ads?

Chelsea asks, “How do you organize and track which display ads you’re running and where?”

You should be keeping track of all ads with Google Analytics UTM tracking codes, governed in a Google Sheet, measured in Google Data Studio. Watch the video for full details.

You Ask, I Answer: Tracking Display Ads?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode Chelsea asks, How do you organize and track which display ads you’re running? And where? Well, the answer to that Google Analytics, specifically, Google Analytics UTM tracking codes are the best practice for tracking all kinds of ads, not just display ads.

There’s five kinds of UTM tracking codes, there’s medium, which is what is the way in which this case that we display, there is source which is typically where you put the vendor, whether it’s a company like StackAdapt, or basis, or Google Display Network, that the source and then you have three more tags campaign content and keyword campaign is the logical campaign cluster that an ad group blogs and so if you’re doing say, January coffee shop, as that would be the campaign name that would go there.

You would that further content, describe what it is in the ad that you’re showing.

And then keyword if you’re doing any kind of sem add the keyword be a literal keyword of ad, if you’re not doing an SEM ad, then it would be another additional descriptive that could help you differentiate the content.

The reason you do it this way is so that you can not only have a distinctive taxonomy for all your different advertising, but then you can actually see its impact inside Google Analytics and run proper attribution analysis.

So how do you keep track of all that? Well, there’s a couple different ways you can do it.

If you do it just with the campaign content, keyword tags, you’ll see that in Google Analytics under some of the campaign acquisition source campaigns.

However, if you’re trying to keep it all straight in advance of launching campaign, simplest thing to do is put together a spreadsheet I put together a Google Sheet So it’s collaborative and multiple people can work on it, and have each of those columns filled out.

So you can have medium source campaign content keyword.

Once you’ve done that, and you’ve got all that stuff inside of a spreadsheet, then it is relatively trivial to keep track of that within Google Analytics to see which campaigns which content which vendors are performing the best, right, because remember, you’re using the vendor name is that UTM source, you can see right inside most of the standard views inside of Google Analytics, you can switch to source medium, and see which source is giving you the highest amount of performance.

That’s also why it’s less advisable to use a some kind of custom tracking codes just use what’s built into Google Analytics.

It’s designed for exactly this purpose.

So medium is display.

And be sure to differentiate to if you are working with different vendors that have different types of advertising.

If you’re doing sem, it should be either CPC or PPC.

Those are the built in channel definitions, we’ve been display display.

If you’re doing native, you can put native in for the medium type, but then you’re going to need to declare it in the default channel groupings are will get tracked as other and that’s a really bad sources the vendor campaign is the campaign content is the descriptor of the ad itself.

This is by the way, good is very, very useful if you’re doing you know many variations if you have like 50 graphics that you’re doing massive testing on that UTM content is the great The best way to differentiate it and the key word either for an additional descriptor or the actual keywords.

One of the best things you can do to keep trying rack of the performance of these things is actually don’t try and do it in Google Analytics itself.

Do it in Google Data Studio, Google Data Studio is a lot more flexible about bringing in and manipulating the different fields.

And with either native connectors or the different third party community connectors, you can connect to many different ads systems directly.

So that you can see your their data, and then put it side by side with what Google Analytics sees.

And that way you can make sure a that you’re tracking is right, because if the ad system says you got a million clicks, and Google Analytics says you got five, that didn’t work out so well.

And second, you can obviously get a holistic picture of everything that’s going on.

So Google Data Studio would be the preferred reporting mechanism to make sure that the ads are delivering some kind of performance, but for the actual governance, do that in Google Sheets.

Now there are more advanced illusions if you want to get really fancy, there’s a great piece of software called work front that does marketing operations management, it is substantially more expensive than a spreadsheet.

But it does have things like governance and approval cycles.

If that’s something that your shop needs to have in place, I would say 95% of the time, spreadsheets a good place to start and then once you find it becomes unwieldy then start looking at marketing operations management software, but until then, keep it simple.

So, good question.

If you have follow up questions, leave them in the comments box below.

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