Campaign Tagging Best Practices | Part 2: Develop a Structure

In part 1, we defined the various elements you’ll likely need to consider when tagging your marketing campaigns. Now we’re going to tackle how to standardize those elements into a consistent structure and how to append them to your inbound URLs.

This should be a religion for everyone it involves at your organization. The reason consistency is so important is two fold. First, presumably you care about your time. Following a structure will save you an incredible amount of time in your analysis. Second, make it really easy for your web analytics platform to digest inbound traffic and put it into the right categories. We’ll spend more time on processing rules later.

Within Adobe Analytics, which is where I have the most experience, you can and should group these elements into a single string and attach them via a parameter to your inbound URLs. The key for your URL parameter is not standardized in Adobe Analytics, so be sure to talk to your admin to find out what to use. Google Analytics, however, uses multiple parameters to capture different elements and store information. They have a URL builder which can be handy, though to get as detailed as you’d like to, you’ll have to combine elements into a single parameter.

In Adobe Analytics, I would recommend using abbreviations, and documenting the friendly name. Since Google Analytics has multiple parameters, most people choose to just use a friendly name. Keep in mind, religion means don’t change your caps or conventions (ex. Facebook vs. facebook vs. FB vs. fb). Your web analytics platform takes everything in your parameter very literally, so if you deviate with just a single capitalization, traffic may not be grouped together as you intended. Here’s a table with some examples.

Adobe Analytics Google Analytics
Friendly Name Abbreviation Friendly Name
Medium Display Media DM DisplayMedia
Source Google G Google
Paid/Unpaid Paid PD Paid
Segment Small-Medium Business SMB SMB
Country United States US US
Campaign Back to school BTS BackToSchool
Tactic Prospecting PR Prospecting
Creative Girl with pencils GWP GirlWithPencils
Size 300×250 300×250 300×250

For Adobe Analytics combining these elements with an underscore is the perfect way to develop a concise tracking code structure that’s easy enough for a human eye to scan through, but robust enough to capture a ton of information. Here’s how it would look…


Adobe Analytics can use a number of different keys, so check with your tech team to see which one is configured for your setup. A fully parameterized (new word?) URL then look like this…

And don’t forget, parameters get attached with a “?” if there isn’t another “?” in the URL. If there is already a “?” in the URL, attach your parameter with an “&.” Within Google Analytics, unique parameters are used  to capture some of these elements. They have a handy tool to build a tracked URL here. Based on our discussion around the important elements to track, you may want to consider combining multiple elements into the utm_content and utm_campaign parameter.

Name Parameter Definition
Campaign Source utm_source Categorically, your highest level – like paid search.
Campaign Medium utm_medium This is your partner or vendor, like google.
Campaign Name utm_campaign Here’s where you can denote whether this is an ongoing campaign, or something with a specific start and end date. You might also want to include the segment in this parameter.
Campaign Term utm_term This one is just for search, you can use it to note your specific search term, if you want.
Campaign Content utm_content This is where you can load up all the additional elements in your tracking. The remaining elements that you might want to track are paid/unpaid, country, tactic, creative, and size

So the same tracking code in Google Analytics format would look longer, and something like this…


Here’s the fully tracked URL with the Google Analytics version of the tracking code…

Yes, these URLs are long. Yes, they have a lot of info, but capturing this information in parameters through standardized elements will give you so much more insight when you get asked questions about ROI and need to make optimization decisions. In part 3, we’ll dive into effective ways to document and empower teams to generate their own tracking codes, while keeping the same consistent structure.

Anything you’ve found particularly useful when building your tagging structure? We’re in this together, don’t keep it a secret.

When you’re ready to get going – the campaign tagging template will make it easy…


  1. Pingback: Campaign Tagging Best Practices | Part 3: Document EVERYTHING – A Real Marketer

  2. Pingback: WTF are URL Parameters? – A Real Marketer

  3. Pingback: Campaign Tagging Best Practices | Part 1: Define Your Elements - A Real Marketer

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