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How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Let me preface this question with a little background information:

1.  I have a web based system that takes in data from the Google Analytics API and displays that information based upon each clients needs via a web interface.

2.  I use unique URLs for each source/campaign ( Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook, Display Ad Networks, etc. ) containing 'utm' variables and the system generated values. Example: url.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_content=1234&utm_campaign=This-is-the-campaign-name

3.  Google Analytics is the repository, since a large majority of clients use it on their websites, it's a natural fit to use them as the workhorse for data capturing.

4.  All of the clients have active Google AdWords campaigns, connected Google Analytics accounts, and they have enabled Auto-Tagging.

5.  When I test a Google text ad, the link that is populated in the web browser is similar to the following: url.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_content=1234&utm_campaign=This-is-the-campaign-name&gclid=123xyz

My current dilemma is centered around AdWords campaigns with Auto-Tagging enabled. The data capture process for all sources ( excluding Google AdWords ) works fine. I have unique tracking codes populated in the 'utm_content' variable, therefore when I call the Google Analytics API, this tracking code acts as my unique identifier. For all Google AdWords campaigns, I update all the destination links within the ad creative to include the system generated URLs that also include the prepopulated values. When viewing the reporting in Google Analytics, the variables/values are non-existent, it is as if Google completely disregards these values and uses a back-channel from Google AdWords to Google Analytics to input the campaign properties. For these Google AdWords campaigns, the visits are not lost, but rather they are associated to the standard Google AdWords campaign/ad group in Google Analytics.

Here is a list of things that I do know:

1.  From what I have read, disabling Auto-Tagging would fix this issue and allow the 'utm' variables and their values to be passed from Google AdWords into Google Analytics. The consequence of disabling Auto-Tagging would be the loss of click to conversion and cost data.

2.  KISSmetrics has documented a similar issue when working with clients that also use Google Analytics. Links that contain the 'gclid', Example: url.com/?gclid=123xyz ( Auto-Tagging enabled ), will not have any additional information logged ( campaign source, medium, etc. ). Links that also contain the 'utm' variables, Example: url.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=PPC&utm_content=1234&utm_campaign=This-is-the-campaign-name&gclid=123xyz, this information is passed to KISSmetrics. For this second scenario, I am assuming the KISSmetrics javascript is reading the URL variables and values.

Here is what I am trying to achieve:

1.  I am trying to avoid having to add a proprietary javascript that reads the URL variables and values and then posts that information to an external URL.

2.  I do not want to add line items to the current Google Analytics javascript ( example: custom variables ).

3.  I am looking for an 'out-of-the-box' solution that perhaps takes into consideration AdWords ValueTrack parameters. My familiarity with these variables is limited, therefore I can not determine if one of these values can be used as a unique identifier to later reference when I access the data using the Google Analytics API. Or as an alternative, using a Google AdWords dimension to do the same. See http://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/reporting/core/dimsmets/adwords.

4.  I would like to determine if it is possible to continue with the methodology of generating unique URLs, assigning them to Google AdWords campaigns, and taking the results of those campaigns from Google Analytics via their API, without compromising the click to conversion and cost data ( disabling Auto-Tagging ).

Thanks in advance for reading through my plight and any feedback you provide will be greatly appreciated.

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

[ Edited ]
Badged Google Partner
# 2
Badged Google Partner

I'm not much of an anlytics expert, and have no coding knowlege what so ever, but I think you are correct about disabling auto-tagging. You won't get the auto tagging adwords-analytics google property benefits, but the data should report in a manner that resembles the rest of the data.

 

This is an article by Kim C. about tagging sitelinks, that may not be directly related to your specific situation, but you can use some manually tagged value track parameters, with auto tagging, and get all the data to report in analytics without any third party properties. I don't know how/if that works with the AdWords API or not.

 

#4 definitely is possible, one way or the other. 

Tom

Marked as Best Answer.
Solution
Accepted by Karl (Explorer ✭ ✭ ☆)
September 2015

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Top Contributor Alumni
# 3
Top Contributor Alumni

HI

1. If you dont want to use any custom variables or changes to GA code its pretty hard to pull specific data from GA APIs for adwords campaings

2. The simplest way is to have your system read data from URLS using value track but i guess u dont want that

3. Value track parameters have nothing to do with GA, These parameters are used for 3rd party systems which read and fetch data from URL 

4. If you dont want any customization to GA code via custom variables and you want to keep autotagging. Then i guess best solution is use value track with auto tagging and have javascript that reads the URL variables and values and then posts that information to an external URL.

Regards

nik

 

Regards, Nik
LinkedIn  |   @nikhilparachure | My Blog

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 4
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
Good answer Nik.

@Relecom- You'll get Value track is pretty simple & using multiple URL parameters is very interesting. You can read details here-
http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2375447

Vin

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Badged Google Partner
# 5
Badged Google Partner

Are those the only values that can track through Google analytics Vin? 

 

I use GA for adcenter data (one tracking code is easiest for most of our SB clients), and I can't get the adgroup for example to pull through to analytics. Is that because there is no adgroup value track parameter, or function to track a manually added (adgroup) variable in the analytics?

 

Is that part of the reason why the URL builder has so few variables? Can GA only track so much manually added data with auto tagging? Sorry, but I'm still learning here. Smiley Happy

Tom

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Top Contributor Alumni
# 6
Top Contributor Alumni

Hi

You cant track ad group with valuetrack but you can track the creative id and then trace it back to the adgroup in excel or something like that. This is what we do and we have written some macros in excel to make this easy

Regards, Nik
LinkedIn  |   @nikhilparachure | My Blog

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Follower ✭ ☆ ☆
# 7
Follower ✭ ☆ ☆

Hi Thomas,

 

Yes, mentioned are the only parameters you can track.

 

I didnt get what exactly you want? Do you mind repeating your question in brief again? Would love to help you my best.

 

Cheers,

Vin

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Badged Google Partner
# 8
Badged Google Partner

For many of our small business clients using adwords and adcenter, it's too complicated and costly to install more than one analytics trcking code on the site. In addition, adcenter cannot track conversions within their UI, without installing a conversion code for every campaign (ridiculous!) So, the only way we have to track adcenter engagement metrics outside of the KPI's in the UI, is to manually tag the ads with the value track parameters GA will pull through to the analytics. I can tag campaign, KW, and I can even manually tag ad content (to some degree). But, I can't figure out how to manually tag the adgroup, and get the data to report in analytics. 

 

Is there another value track parameter that is not {adgroup} that I could use to track the adgroup in GA? I really have no idea what I'm doing here, but it's all up to me. Smiley Happy I haven't even started with the FB stuff yet, but I know when I do I will have to try and track whatever data I can get through GA. Any further insight or homework resources on this front would be appreciated. Sorry if I have hijacked the thread, but this manual tagging stuff is good to know!

Tom

Re: How to correctly use Auto-Tagging and UTM variables in AdWords?

Rising Star
# 9
Rising Star
Hi Nik, do you know if it's possible using Value Track get campaign and ad.group name in our CRM. First we get all data in analytics and then import it to CRM.
I've read your comment but I am not sure that I fully understood your solution suits our needs.
Can you please give your insight under this post or on thread which I've started recently http://goo.gl/DmQtvT
Thanks
Cheers, Alexey
UAWC Agency
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