When troubleshooting ad trafficking and delivery, the most important item to capture is the click string, sometimes referred to as a click tag. The click string is the URL that takes the user to the ad.
Capture a click string from a computer
Right-click the ad and copy the link address. If you can't right-click the ad, you may need to disable your computer's internet connection, then copy the URL that's in the address bar in your browser.
There are a few other ways to find the click string of an ad using your computer:
- Using a browser extension: There may be an extension available for your browser that can help. Extensions can capture a click string without needing to disable your computer's internet connection. Example: The Link Redirect Trace extension, available for both Chrome and Firefox
- Using Charles proxy: You may be able to install the Charles web debugging proxy application and use it to capture click strings, as well as other information about ads. Learn more about Charles proxy
- Using Google Chrome: Chrome's DevTools can capture all traffic and save it into a .HAR file, including the click intermediate destinations such as the click string. To extract the .HAR file in Chrome:
- Right-click in the browser window or tab and select Inspect.
- In the panel that appears, click the Network tab.
- Select the Preserve log checkbox.
- Click the ad you want to inspect.
- Right-click any of the items in the Name column and select Save as .HAR with content.
- Name the file and click Save. Content for all of the items in the column will be saved in the same .HAR file.
Capture a click string from a mobile device
Disconnect from any internet or cellular service, then click or tap the ad. The ad will attempt to open in a browser window, but because there's no service it will not load. However, the click string will be exposed in the URL. This approach can also be used on a computer.