How Enhanced Campaigns May Affect Your Analytics

You’re probably sick of hearing about it, but it’s true: enhanced campaigns are going to impact your ability to structure, segment, and optimize campaigns. Whether it’s in a positive or negative way is up for debate. Regardless, I hope you have done your research and understand the transition — how it affects you, your business and campaign management. If not, numerous articles have been written on the topic so there’s a bevy of available content.

That said, little has been divulged about how your analytics will be impacted by the enhanced rollout. So, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the subtle changes which, if not taken into account, may muddy the waters of reporting you’ve worked so hard to clear up.

The Dividing Line

The impact of enhanced campaigns on your analytics depends on which platform you use and the nature of the integration. This brings up a very clear distinction: you’re either using Google Analytics (GA) with a linked AdWords account or you’re not.

adwords linked acct

 

If you are using a linked GA account, you’re in luck – nothing changes in terms of data acquisition. Your analytics will work just fine without any major impact outside of campaign structural changes you’ll need to make to comply with the enhanced campaigns.

This is because linking GA and AdWords accounts requires using auto-tagged URLs. Auto-tagged URLs include a dynamic parameter, gclid, which is appended to all AdWords URLs and passes all available data between the two systems.

Adwords Enhanced Campaigns & Google analtyics

 

The Other Options

But, what if you’re not using GA with auto-tagged URLs? Now is a good time to either consider adopting GA and auto-tagging or start the process of updating campaigns and URL structure to adhere to the limitations of enhanced campaigns.

If you do fall into this category, you’re either using an unlinked GA account and UTM parameters for other internal tracking purposes or some other parameters specific to your analytics package.

First and foremost, if you have an unlinked GA account and are using UTM parameters for internal tracking purposes, it is possible to leverage auto-tagging and other custom parameters to leverage GA as well as another tracking solution.

The incremental data imported into GA with a linked account is invaluable:

  • Match Type (Broad, Phrase, Exact)
  • Ad Group (The Ad Group associated with the keyword/creative and click)
  • Destination URL (AdWords Destination URL)
  • Matched Search Query
  • Ad Format (text, display, video)
  • Ad Distribution Network (Google Search)
  • Content-Targeting Option (Automatic Placements vs. Manual)
  • Placement Domain (the domain on the content network where your ads were displayed)

Source

In order to understand what needs to be changed, we need to understand the nature of trackable changes in enhanced campaigns and further leverage ValueTrack parameters to ensure our analytics effectively capture all relevant data.

The only mandatory [trackable] change to campaign structure is the consolidation of devices into a single campaign. Breaking out campaigns by device is not an option, so conveniently labeled campaigns like ‘Campaign1_Tablet’ are a thing of the past.

To demonstrate the impact of the change, a standard tracking URL might look something like this:

www.company.com?source=google&medium=cpc&campaign=campaign1_tablet&ad={creative}&term={keyword}

Now, in order to capture the user’s device, include the {device} parameter so the URL looks something like:

www.company.com?source=google&medium=cpc&campaign=campaign1 &ad={creative}&device={device}&term={keyword}

The {device} parameter will populate values ‘m’, ‘t’, or ‘c’ for mobile, tablet, and computer respectively.

If your site has a noticeable variance in user behavior between device models, via the Google Display Network (GDN) you can leverage the {device type} parameter (ex: Apple+iPhone) to modify URLs and serve up a unique user experience per device.

While this parameter is not currently available for Google Search, I have to believe that it will become available via the search network sooner rather than later.

If you’re dead set on providing a unique user experience when the user is on a mobile device, you can leverage the {ifmobile:[value]} parameter. This conditional parameter only populates if the user is on a mobile device and gives the advertiser an opportunity to modify the URL.

For example, www.company.com?{ifmobile:site=mobile} will render as www.company.com? If the user is on a computer or tablet versus www.company.com?site=mobile if the user is on a mobile device.

It’s worth noting that the forced migration to enhanced campaigns is still months out and, as always, it’s possible that Google makes changes which alter the viability of the tracking statement above.

Concluding Thoughts

Taking a step back, outside of how you collect user device, enhanced campaigns should not change too much in your analytics and reporting. That said, knowing user device is critical and if the available ValueTrack parameters cannot work for your situation, there is a significant add-value to setting up Google Analytics and linking your AdWords account.

If you have been putting off migrating to or learning about enhanced campaigns, you should consider raising the priority level enough to stay ahead of the learning curve, especially if you run a highly integrated, non-GA based system.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Google: Analytics | Search & Analytics

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About The Author: is the Vice President of Performance Marketing and Analytics at SellPoints and is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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  • David Phillips

    Benny thanks for this post. I was wondering why no one’s been talking about this. But, here’s a question for you. How do we track devices now through third party analytics suites like Omniture or WebTrends? We used to have different URLs for tablet, mobile and desktop but now they’re all going to use the same URL so how will a third party be able to decipher this?

  • http://twitter.com/bennyblum Benny Blum

    David – you can leverage the {device} valuetrack parameter for any analytics platform because it’s populated at the time of the click – it’s just a question of how you define the parameter which will be unique to your platform. If your’re using omniture, you can use an evar to capture the {device} param (although depending on your contract you may have a limited number of evars available). Another option is to leverage the SAINT tool with the s.getQueryParam() to capture a parameter value from another custom defined variable (e.g. device={device}). Hope that helps.

  • Jeff McKay

    Good write up! I had a question about using both the auto-tagging of URLs within AdWords as well as using custom UTM parameters for internal tracking purposes. Are you able to utilize both of these at the same time? If a custom UTM parameter is the same as what is encoded in the gclid, with this alter any of the data GA reports on? Also, if this is possible to implement both, do you know of an article that discusses this a little further in depth? Thanks!

 

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