NS8 User Guides

Campaign Tracking and UTM Codes

How campaign tracking works using UTM codes.

What is Campaign Tracking?

Campaign tracking is a method of identifying which traffic is being driven to a website by specific advertising campaigns. These campaigns can be pay-per-click ads, ads on social media sites like Facebook, or video ads like ones shown on YouTube.

A tracking code is created after a user clicks on an ad, which generates a referring URL with certain information encoded in it.

These codes are referred to as Urchin Tracking Mechanism (UTM) codes, named after a company called Urchin Software that 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 uses these codes as an advertising industry leader, many other solutions are also built to read them and take advantage of their data.

UTM codes are not only limited to online advertising. If a merchant is placing a print, radio, or other type of ad, UTM codes can be leveraged by directing customers to a special vanity URL.

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 look like this:
https://www.acme.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Saturday%20Morning&utm_term=How%20To%20Prepare&utm_content=Catch%20Roadrunner%20Help%20Super%20Genius, where everything after the ".com" is 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 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:

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 ad campaigns.

Using NS8 Protect or NS8 TrueStats allows merchants to 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 they can discontinue or modify these campaigns to reduce the prevalence of fraud. Campaigns that create high-value traffic will also be identified, so a merchant can then focus more effort on campaigns that product the best results.

Campaign Tracking and UTM Codes


How campaign tracking works using UTM codes.

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