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Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
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This is a long post. I've received conflicting information about this issue from both AdWords Support and the AdWords Community, and unfortunately most of the respective recommendations have not cited corresponding documentation. It is my hope in making this post that we will:


A) find an answer, and

B) that someone with the same (or similar) problem in the future will be able to resolve their issue with minimal search and be able to review the corresdponding documentation should they so desire.


Update [12 Feb 2014]


Support's last response (see below) "indicates" ValueTrack breaks auto-tagging. They suggest using only manual-tagging with ValueTrack. However, it does not appear the ValueTrack documentation they link to includes any mention of auto- or manual-tagging.


Problem Overview:


We've modified AdWords destination URLs to include ValueTrack and utm parameters (for compatibility with a 3rd party application).


When the enabled ads were clicked the ValueTrack parameters were not dynamically inserted into the destination URLs in Analytics.


Before enabling all ads with the new destination URLs we would like to confirm if:


A) this is the expected behavior (i.e. ValueTrack params won't appear in Analytics destination URLs but will appear in the 3rd party app) or,

B) if this behavior is indicative of failure.


Steps We've Taken:


Auto-tagging is ON.


"Custom campaign tags" is ON (but values are blank -- see screenshot below).


Modify destination URLs of AdWords ads to include ValueTrack and utm parameters.




We've contacted AdWords support but so far have been unable to resolve the issue. I found the responses confusing and contrary to our requirements, so I will post them here in case I misunderstood relevant information:


Support response:

The parameters value track or manual tags will not be reported in Analytics (means the tagged URLs such as{mat...
are used to track certain details via destination URL but the parameter tagged URLs will not be reported in the Analytics reports.

 Our resopnse: 

So the reason we're implementing ValueTrack is so we can track parameters in the destination URL with an external system. But specifically why wouldn't these ValueTrack data appear in Google Analytics?
Furthermore, if the ValueTrack data don't appear in GA, how can we be sure it will work with our external system? 

 Support response:

...the specialists have found that the reason parameters in destination URL are not dynamically inserted that could be only because you are using both auto tagging and manual tagging together. We would recommend you to use only auto-tagging as using both may create issues in your Analytics account. 

We would first request you to fix that error. In case you are still unable to use ValueTrack parameters, please let us know. We will be happy to investigate the issue further.


Our response:

Where is this documented? (I could not find any documentation which described this specific issue.)

Another thing: I mentioned we are using an external system. if we disable manual tagging how will we be able to pass utm parameters to the external system? ValueTrack currently does not include a campaign parameter, for example.


Support response:

I had escalated the issue to the concerned team and they have mentioned that you should enable only auto-tagging while using ValueTrack parameter to avoid several problems. 

If after removing manual tags and leaving ValueTracks with auto- tagging, you still face the same issues, please let us know, we will be more than happy to investigate further.


Our response:

Please have them respond to this specific question which I asked on Feb 6th:
I mentioned we are using an external system. if we disable manual tagging how will we be able to pass utm parameters to the external system? ValueTrack currently does not include a campaign parameter, for example.

Furthermore, please also send links to the respective documentation upon which they based their recommendations.


Support response:

[The Analytics Team] have informed me that in order to use ValueTrack parameters you should only use manual tagging and not auto-tagging. 

For more details on ValueTrack, please visit-


Obviously using only auto-tagging won't work for us because we want to pass data to a 3rd party app. But this wouldn't appear to be a problem based on others' experience as well as "AdWords Accepted Solutions" to similar problems like this:


(from theniks)

If I was in your place I wouldnt turn off autotagging as if you turn it off you wont get clicks and cost data in analytics.
You can use following combinations of tracking without any problem
You can not use all 3 in following combinations
1. Auto tagging only
2. Manual Analytics tagging
3. Value Track manual tagging only
4. Value Track manual tagging and auto tagging
5. Value Track manual tagging and manual analytics tagging

However in the same post petebardo warns of potential issues (but unfortunately does not cite corresponding documentation):


Yes, you can turn off auto-tagging, but it will have an effect on the reporting detail. Your data will no longer show in the Advertising/AdWords section of Analytics. Instead, it will be under Traffic Sources/Sources/Campaigns. And you don't get all the detailed data you get wiht auto-tagging.
There is a limit to the length of the query string that AdWords will create. If you have many value track parameters, you could reach this limit, depending on how much stuff you add with value track values. My advice is to leave auto-tagging on, and do not use utm_ values. If you have both manual tagging and auto-tagging turned on and use the utm_ parameters, your traffic will report twice, once in the AdWords section and once on the campaign section.


From another question petebardo again shares interesting information with a caveat that using utm_* parameter names could cause issues:


I do use auto-tagging and manual tagging at the same time. There is a limit to the length of the query string allowed, but I have not reached that limit. It's something like 1024 characters. You need to be careful in doing this to be sure your traffic isn't double counted--once for the auto-tagging and again for the manual tagging. If you're using Google Analytics, I recommend you not use the utm_* parameter names. That will cause your traffic to show up in 2 sections of the reports and will make it look like you have double the traffic and conversions that you actually had.


And in the same question JastheAce mentions a possible solution (but does not cite corresponding documentation):


Now that Ive switched to using ValueTrack for my url parameters (so we can extract keyword data into our CRM) ive enabled the option in analytics for manual utm tags to override gclid data - hopefully that will avoid any double reporting. I need to keep auto tagging running for some of our other campaigns that arent using valuetrack yet.


We have turned the "Custom campaign tags" option ON in Analytics but have not specified values as you can see below:



I don't know that this would help (since I haven't found corresponding documentation), and we'd rather not make modifications based on trial and error -- we'd rather RTFM to be sure what we're doing is correct. Smiley Happy


So this is basically as far as we've gotten. We're looking forward to a definitive and official answer to this question and would appreciate whatever help we can get.


p.s. In the event I've overlooked the answer or have misunderstood key points please feel free to include links/descriptions.

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Hi Charles,

I am unable to provide a reference in the documentation for this behavior. My answers are based on my experience and what I have seen.

In Analytics, the utm_ parameters and the gclid are stripped before reporting landing page hits, but the data is aggregated under Traffic Sources/Sources/Campaigns. With auto-tagging enable as well as value track, the traffic reports in both sections.

Good luck with the documentation search.

petebardo -- Deadhead doing AdWords

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
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Have you configured destination URLs which include both utm and ValueTrack parameters, and which also correctly report those data to Analytics and a 3rd party app?


If so, could you share your configuration? 


Also, could you give an example of what you mean by this:

With auto-tagging enable as well as value track, the traffic reports in both sections.



Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author charles h
September 2015

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor
Charles, I'm also using auto tagging and valuetrack all the time, but I never use the utm parameter names to populate them with valuetrack values

Analytics gets all it needs by sharing data with AdWords and tieing it through the gclid.

The third party app could get the same data if your urls would look like ?gclid=xyz&campaign=campaignName&mType=matchType and so on.

Just don't use utm parameters and you can skip source and medium from the URLs as they will always be google / cpc for any url that comes from AdWords with the gclid in it.

Can you give it a try with this setup and see if both Analytics and the 3rd party are happy? Smiley Wink
Calin Sandici, AdWords Top Contributor | Find me on: Google+ | Twitter | LinkedIn | myBlog
Was my response helpful? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’ Learn how here.

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
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Thanks, Calin. Your suggestion led me to a possible solution. The only problem was the 3rd party application (Mixpanel) also uses utm params so making both GA and Mixpanel happy required some custom JS.

Nevertheless, if you're keen to see how we got it to work stay tuned for an update atop OP.

Thanks again!

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

[ Edited ]
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 6
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆

Hi Charles,


I like the way you have documented everything. My suggestion would be switch on auto targging in GA,may be you have done it  I can find following advantage of using auto targets as stated by Google:



When you use auto-tagging, you get data for some additional reports that aren't available when you use manual tagging:

  • Day Parts
  • Placements (Where your ads on the content network were placed)
  • Keyword Positions (What position your ad appeared in on Google Search)"


May be you want to test this by removing ad position param from URL as GA limits this to Auto targged campaigns only.

Disable Auto tagging in adwords before you test this.

Plus i can see one space in your example URL may be you wanna remove that :{mat...


Some related documentation you can go through :


Auto-tagging vs. manual tagging reporting Tag your AdWords destination URLs


Hope this helps




Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks Zaidan, but this suggestion is irrelevant. Please review the "AdWords Accepted Solution" posted by AdWiser.

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 8
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
It depends on the ease of testing it. You have an option if you want to test it out.
As stated by you in last reply you are still working on figuring out the best way to implement this.
Its just a suggestion you can avoid using it Smiley Happy

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 9
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Zaidan, please carefully re-read the "AdWords Accepted Solution" as well as the original post. You may notice that disabling auto-tagging was not mentioned as a solution.

Furthermore, your initial comment would seem to confuse the terms "auto targeting" and "auto-tagging." If you edit your comment to correct this it may be helpful for others who come across this thread in the future.

If you need further clarification please feel free to ask, but first try to thoroughly read and understand the previous posts/comments. Smiley Happy

Re: Help configuring ValueTrack and manual-/auto-tagging?

Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
# 10
Explorer ✭ ☆ ☆
Thanks for the correction it was a typo. I have an experience using custom tags and was trying to help you out .
Please don't ignore space in URL you have mentioned.