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Bing Ads Editor Diary: How to Build Up a Quality Campaign with Speed (Part IV) – Managing URL Tracking Parameters

In the previous three posts of this series, we went over the concept and process of using Editor’s import and export function to build up a quality online ad campaign with speed.  In the last post of this series, let’s go over the most important step of using external data to build your ad campaign in Bing Ads: managing URL tracking parameters to correctly score your campaigns.

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Before taking any action, let’s have an overview of URL tracking.

What is URL tracking?

To measure the business value of various marketing campaigns, such as revenue per click, you need to track the origin of the visitors and their activities on your websites by using analytic tools from search engines or a 3rdparty.  URL tracking enables advertisers to identify the origin and cause of each visit.

How do you establish URL tracking?

Just two simple steps:

  1. Add a tracking function to URLs embedded in various marketing campaigns, such as PPC, display.
  2. Add a conversion tracker to your web site to send arrival’s URL information to the designated analytics tool.

The analytics tool will combine visitors’ origins and their activities on your website to help you make business decisions, such as adding more budget to highly profitable campaigns.  For the purpose of this post, lets focus on managing the URL tracking function embedded in your paid search campaigns.

What are the basic rules of URLs tracking?

  • Add a question mark (?) right after destination URLs to connect them with tracking parameters.
  • Add an ampersand mark (&) right after tracking parameters to connect it to another one.  A destination URL with the correct tracking function should look like:

http://www.DestinationURL.com?TrackingParameter1&TrackingParameters

  • Use an equal sign (=) to connect a parameter to its value.  Use a percentage sign (%) to represent a space within a value since spaces are not allowed within a URL.
  • Be precise in setting your tracking value to clearly identify the origin of visitors.
  • Be consistent in entering the value- some analytics tools are case sensitive to the tracking value.
  • Keep the total length of the URL (destination URL + URL tracking parameters) to within 1,022 characters (limit).

What are frequently-used URL tracking parameters?

The way of setting up URL tracking is the same across all analytics tools, but different analytics tools may have different URL tracking parameters.  Because many of you develop URL tracking with your Google campaigns first and migrate established campaigns over to Bing Ads, lets review the most frequently-used Google URL tracking parameters:

  • utm_source: identify origin of this visit, such as Bing or Google
  • utm_medium: identify channel delivered this visit, such as paid search or display ad
  • utm_campaign: identify campaign generated this visit, such as name of the campaign or ad group
  • utm_term: identify which keyword or terms triggered this traffic
  • utm_content: identify which value proposition triggered this traffic

You can use the same parameters to track your Bing Ads campaigns with Google Analytics, which provides you a holistic review of your paid search campaigns and helps you make the most optimal decisions across your campaign portfolio.  

Example: URL tracking for a visit generated by Bing via keyword: “Editor” within the ad group: “How To” with an ad copy promoting best practices would look like this: 

http://www.destinationURL.com?utm_source=Bing &utm_medium=PaidSearch&utm_campaign=HowTo&utm_term=Editor&utm_content=BestPractices

When adjusting your Google campaign to Bing Ads, which tracking parameters need to be updated (and how)?

  • You need to set utm_source to Bing for campaigns imported from Google.  To make sure it’s set correctly, you can use the Replace function to correct any misplacements for the following URL entries:
    • Destination URL field at Text ads tab
    • Keyword destination URL and placeholder {param1} field at Keywords tab

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Next time, when you use the Import Wizard to bring an external campaign into Bing Ads, remember to use its Find and Replace function to update the traffic source.

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  • You can use Bing Ads’ destination URL dynamic text function to manage URL tracking more effectively in Bing Ads.  For example, you can:
    • Set utm_term to {keyword} (i.e. utm_term={keyword}) to have Bing Ads automatically enter name of the keyword for this parameter
    • Set utm_term to {QueryString} to have Bing Ads automatically enter terms of the query triggered this traffic
    • Set utm_content to {Adid} to have Bing Ads automatically enter the ID number of the ad copy triggered this traffic

The full list of Bing Ads’ dynamic texts for Destination URL is here and optimization tips are here.

URL TRACKING FAQs

Q: What will happen if I didn’t set up or update URL tracking for my Bing Ads campaigns?

Visitors resulting from your Bing Ads campaign will appear in the organic section of your analytics reports, which prevents you from making the optimal decision about how to grow your online campaign and business.

Q: Why should I check destination URL settings in both the Keyword and Ad Tabs?

Bing Ads sets the destination URL in the following order and misplacements could be found within any of them:

  1. Keyword destination URL: used to set destination URL if available
  2. {param1}: used to set destination URL if keyword destination URL is not available
  3. Ad destination URL: used to set destination URL if both keyword destination URL and {param1} are not available

Q: I only found a gclid tracking parameter in my destination URLs - what is it?

  • gclid is an automatically generated URL tracking parameter generated by Google and assigned with a randomly generated string only could be tracked with Google Analytics Tool.  It looks like http://www.DestinationURL.com?gclid=123abc
  • This auto-tag only works properly for traffic generated from Google.  You can use following find and replace example to update those URLs without hassle
    • Find: gclid
    • Replace: utm_soruce=Bing&utm_medium=PaidSearch&utm_campaign=CamapignUnitName&utm_term=[keyword}&utm_content
  • Note: you need to enter campaign or ad group name to replace CampaignUnitName and the randomly generated number from Google will be used to represent utm_content value.

Q: Can I add URL tracking parameters after Google’s auto-generated gclid tracking parameter to track traffic from Bing?

Yes, you can, but it is not recommended.  Because it could double-count each visit (i.e. each visit from Bing could show up on your analytics reports as Bing traffic and Google traffic).

Q: My destination URLs end with a forward slash sigh (/), can I add URL tracking to them?

Yes, you can.  Same rules apply and it would look like: http://www.DestinationURL.com/?URLTracking

Q: Can URL tracking separates visitors from Bing or Yahoo!?

No, visitors from Bing and Yahoo! are being tracked together.  But you could coordinate your utm_soruce setting with your ad distribution setting at Yahoo! Bing Network.  For example:

  • Set utm_soruce=YBN_All for adopting the ad distribution option of Bing and Yahoo! all search networks
  • Set utm_soruce=YBN_Owned for adopting the ad distribution option of Bing and Yahoo! search (owned and operated) only
  • Set utm_soruce=YBN_Syndicated for adopting the ad distribution option of Bing and Yahoo! syndicated search partners only

Q: What are the differences between the dynamic text of {keyword} and {QueryString}?

Bing Ads fills the dynamic text of {keyword} with the names of keywords triggered clicks and fill the dynamic text of {QueryString} with the search terms clicked your ads.  For exact match, the values of {keyword} and {QueryString} are the same, but their values will vary for phrase and broad matching traffic. If you would like to track both, I would like to recommend you

  • Set utm_term={keyword} to measure performance of individual keyword
  • Set utm_content={QueryString} to assess user intents to expand keywords and improve your ads

Want to learn more of using Bing Ads Editor to create quality campaigns or want to discuss your questions in person?  The Yahoo! Bing Network is hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 12, 2013 11:00 am PST to go over how to use Editor to increase ROI of your campaign and your time spent advertising on YBN.  Come joining us by register here today.

Tracking your score is essential for online ad campaigns like it is for sports - it keeps things real and inspires us to win.  I would like to end this series of How to Build Up a Quality Campaign with Speed with a full-hearted, “Have a good game!”

Ping Jen

A Proud Member of Bing Ads Editor Team