Display Ad Tracking Codes Made Easy

  • Date 12th February 2015
Display Ad Tracking Codes Made Easy

Getting the most out of your media spend requires more than simply managing bid levels or negotiating cost per clicks with suppliers. Mapping and measuring the path to purchase is hugely important if you want to go beyond getting a lot of traffic cheaply.

There are a number of different metrics you can use to judge the quality of your paid traffic. If interaction with your website makes up many of those metrics, it’s a must to differentiate between types of campaign interaction within your site analytics.

Passing through information like channel, site, placement, creative size and creative variant using tracking codes is fairly straightforward. If Google Analytics tracking codes or UTMs have ever been a source of grief for you, jump to the bottom of the page for step-by-step instructions on how to automate them for the two leading ad servers – DoubleClick and Sizmek.

So what is a tracking code?

A tracking code sits after the URL you point traffic towards. When the user arrives on your site and your site analytics records a new session, it will also collect any information contained in the tracking code.

This information is then available in site analytics for you to slice, dice and review at your leisure. Different analytics tools handle tracking codes in their own unique way. Some such as an Adobe CID allow a high degree of customisation while others like Google Analytics UTM work more uniformly.

What’s the problem with tracking codes?

Deciding what information you want to pass through, and making sure it meets your requirements for insights and transparency, are both vital processes. Most organisations start out with a simple tracking code convention that is implemented manually, channel by channel. Over time though, more variables and parameters are added in, resulting in thousands of URLs to keep on top of instead of the one or two you had before.

Beyond being a headache to manage, both for you and your agency or supplier, human error will inevitably creep in. If your naming conventions aren't followed precisely every time, your site analytics can get clogged up with weeks of junk data until you find and fix the problem. Or even worse, it can break your click-through URLs and leave you paying for traffic that won't ever make it to your site.

We can help you automate your tracking tags to end the hassle of creating and managing tracking codes, then eliminate the possibility of human error. This way, a string of data will automatically be generated for the click event on a campaign, site, placement and creative level.

Instructions for DoubleClick:

1. Log into the DoubleClick platform
2. Navigate to the desired campaign/s


3. Click on the "Properties" button near the top right corner

4. Scroll down and expand the "Landing Page URL Suffix" section

5. Unlock the URL suffix field by clicking on the "Lock" icon

6. Enter the following code into the field labeled "URL Suffix"

7. Press the blue "Save" button on the top left

Instructions for Sizmek:

1. Log into Sizmek platform
2. In the campaign view find the desired campaign
3. Right click on the campaign and expand "More Options"
4. Click on the "URL Tokens"

5. In the interface, select the following options and move them into the "Activated Tokens" field:

  • [%tp_CampaignID%]
  • Site ID - [%tp_SiteID%]
  • Placement ID - [%tp_PlacementID%]
  • Ad ID - [%tp_AdID%]

6. Update the click-through URL on all ads (including custom exits in rich media) then click trackers to the following: 


What happens next?

Every time your display ad is clicked on, the ad server will automatically replace the [brackets] or %value! tokens with a numerical value that matches up to your ad server’s ID numbers.

Now, without any effort, you can track display media down to the most granular level. Better yet, by using anonymous numerical codes, your campaign strategy and media buys won't be obvious to your customers or competitors.

Better input always leads to greater outcomes

Subscribe to OutThink, the AFFINITY ThoughtReport


Get in touch and find out what we can do for you

Or call during business hours: 9am - 5.30pm, Mon - Fri

+61 2 8354 4400