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Campaign Tagging for Content Distribution

By February 17, 2016 Tips & Tricks No Comments

Last updated December 22, 2016, with new Revcontent variables.

TL;DR uses these tags in UTM parameters for better analytics data & reporting for content discovery networks:

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Do you want to answer important questions for content distribution campaigns running on Outbrain, Taboola, Revcontent, and Content.ad including:

  • Where is my content showing up?
  • Where is my content performing best?
  • Is my content showing up on inappropriate sites?
  • Am I overpaying for distribution that I could get at a lower price?
  • What headline & image combos are performing well? Not performing?
  • Do different headline/image combos work better on different sites?

Proper data collection is essential for your efforts!

This becomes more important as the number of distribution channels leveraged and the amount of content syndicated across the different channels.

When we mention “sites,” “websites” or “apps” these are all synonymous with publishers, sometimes called publisher source depending on who you talk to. They are all referring to the same thing – where your content creative showed up.

This article is intended to help you understand the tracking options currently available, how to properly set them up and where to analyze the data.

UTM Tracking Primer

There are really 4 UTM tags you always want to use. The key to success is using them for the same items across distribution platforms.

utm_campaign – Use to identify the campaign name and required for Google Analytics. If you named your campaign ‘url_tagging’, you would make your campaign UTM equal to the name. However, Brax automatically passes in the campaign name if you use {{CAMPAIGN}} as the campaign UTM.
Example: utm_campaign=url_tagging
Example 2: utm_campaign={{CAMPAIGN}}

utm_source – Use to identify the traffic source and required for Google Analytics.
Example: utm_source=outbrain

utm_medium – Use to identify publisher website or app where the ad is shown and required for Google Analytics.
Example: utm_medium=cnn

utm_content – Use to identify ad creative. Some people pass in the image name & headline text. I recommend passing in a unique Ad ID. If making creatives within the network itself, the network will automatically assign ad IDs to each creative; if making creatives within Brax, we assign our own unique ad ID.
Example: utm_content=rainmaker.png_make_it_rain  (for using the image name)

The “required for Google Analytics” note above is based on the Google URL builder instructions.

A note about utm_term – This is the fifth parameter for Google Analytics, which is intended for paid keyword data. I recommend only using it for paid search campaigns.

Dynamic Tracking Parameters Primer

Most of the data you want can have multiple values including campaign name, publisher site, ad creative clicked, ad copy, ad image, etc.

This data is available through special variables with many names that all mean the same thing such as dynamic tag, dynamic parameter, macros, merge tags, etc.

The basic premise is that you put in a placeholder variable and on ad impression / click the actual value is added in real time / just in time, so you get the data. Google and Yahoo paid search paved the way for this starting with keyword data.

See each network below for their supported dynamic parameters.

Outbrain Campaign Tracking

Outbrain tracking at it’s most basic form is done at the campaign level.

ob-trackingx2

utm_campaign={{CAMPAIGN}}
This is specific to Brax and will pass in your campaign name automatically when looking at your data either in Google Analytics or within our system via our Google Analytics integration.

or

utm_campaign=us-d-urltagging
Assuming we decide to name our campaign ‘us-d-urltagging’, this can also be used. When making campaigns in Outbrain, you will use the name of your campaign.

utm_source=outbrain
Use name of content recommendation network; this must be all lowercase to pass Google Analytics data to Brax.

utm_medium={{origsrcid}}
Use Outbrain’s dynamic parameter for Publisher site ID.

utm_content={{ad_id}}
or
utm_content={{ad_id}}_{{ad_title}}
Use Outbrain’s dynamic parameter for ad id and/or ad title. If you are a Brax customer; then the Brax {{AD_ID}} is automatically added to tie all your data together.

RevContent Campaign Tracking

Revcontent tracking is done at the campaign level.

Here is an updated list of tracking variables for Revcontent as of December 22, 2016

Within Brax, you can use {{CAMPAIGN}} as the campaign UTM to automatically pass your campaign name in. In Brax, it looks like this:

revcontent-tracking

 

When setting up your tracking directly in RevContent, it looks like this:

2015-12-28_revcontent-tracking-code-gear

To build the tracking string in RevContent, click on the gear icon on the far right; to bring up this screen:

2015-12-28_revcontent-tracking-variables

After entering your tracking tags, click “Build Tracking Code” and you should see the Tracking Code and Preview update as seen here:

2015-12-28_revcontent-tracking-preview

utm_campaign=us-d-urltagging
Use your Revcontent Boost name; in this example, the Boost name is “us-d-urltagging”

utm_source=revcontent
Use the name of content recommendation network; revcontent in this case.

utm_medium=<widget_id>
The best way to track publishers in RevContent is to pass the widget ID, which is the publisher widget placement.

utm_content=<content_id>
RevContent equivalent of an Ad-ID is the content ID. If you are using Brax then use {{AD_ID}} which serves the same purpose and ties all your data together.

Taboola Campaign Tracking

Taboola tracking is also done at the campaign level.

2015-12-22_taboola-campaign-tracking

Since you can’t see the entire text in the screenshot, here is the tracking code:

utm_source=taboola&utm_medium={site}&utm_campaign=us-d-taboola-bidding-secrets&utm_content={title}_{thumbnail}

utm_campaign=us-d-taboola-bidding-secrets
Pass in the campaign name manually in Taboola under Campaign Management > Campaign Properties. If you use Brax, then pass in {{CAMPAIGN}} and the correct campaign name is inserted automatically.

 

Note that if you change the campaign name after adding content, the campaign name does not change in the tracking code.

utm_source=taboola
Use the name of content recommendation network; Taboola in this example.

utm_medium={site}
Taboola defaults to passing utm_medium=referral. However, this does not provide any insight, so we recommend changing it to pass in the Publisher site / app name.

Now we can measure publisher performance for your ads so you can block Publishers that are not a good match for your content based on post-click data such as revenue, pages per session, time on site, bounce rate and CTR.

utm_content={title}_{thumbnail}
Taboola does not provide an Ad Id to track individual creative performance so you must combine the image name and title as shown above. Or use Brax to get a unique Ad Id for each creative in each campaign.

Content.ad Campaign Tracking

Content.ad tracking is done at the campaign level:

2016-01-04_contentad-tracking

The screenshot above is from the Campaign settings in Content.ad

Here is the complete tracking parameter string since some are hidden in the screenshot:

utm_campaign=[cid]&utm_source=content.ad&utm_medium=[did]&utm_content=[adid]

utm_campaign=url_tagging or utm_campaign=[cid]
Use content.ad campaign name or use Content.ad’s dynamic parameter for campaign id. The advantage to using the campaign id is if you change the campaign name the campaign id remains the same for consistent tracking.

utm_campaign={{CAMPAIGN}} can be used in Brax to automatically pass in the campaign name

utm_source=content.ad
Use the name of content recommendation network; content.ad in this example.

utm_medium=[did]
Content.ad let’s you track individual publisher performance using a Domain Id. We highly recommend leveraging this to get insights into what publishers are a good match for your content.

utm_content=[adid]
Content.ad does have an Ad Id so you can track individual ad creative performance. If you use Brax, this is replaced with the Brax Ad Id.

Simplifying Tracking

That is a lot to remember and very prone to mistakes with a simple typo that causes data loss (boo!). To make your life easier, we added default tracking settings in Brax so you can setup your tracking once and never worry about it again.

Here is what it looks like for each network:

Examples of UTM codes for tracking

Campaign_Name

Ad_ID

*Note: Tracking publishers in each network needs to be done at the campaign level.

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Tracking Cheat Sheet

As you can see each network has its own way of tracking the important data to optimize your content distribution. If you decide not to use Brax tracking then at least do it manually in your campaign settings for each network to get better insights.
Here is a handy cheat sheet to print out and make your life easier.

**Note: if you are using Brax to pull your Google Analytics data, the campaign name must exactly match and the source parameter must exactly match the network name, all lowercase**

url cheat sheet 119 png

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