[UA] Best Practices for collecting campaign data with custom URLs

1. Tag only what you need.

If your Analytics account is linked to an active Google Ads account and you have auto-tagging enabled, you don't need to tag your destination URLs in Google Ads. Analytics automatically tracks all of your Google Ads campaigns. However, if you run paid search campaigns on search engines other than Google, you'll need to tag the destination URLs for those ads.

Referral sites are automatically detected and displayed in your reports. However, if you want to associate a campaign name or ad type (such as "banner_ad") with referral traffic, you should tag links on referral sites.

There are certain links that you don't need to tag, and many times are not able to tag. You should not attempt to tag organic (unpaid) keyword links from search engines. Search engine names are automatically detected and displayed in your reports. And again, you don't need to tag Google Ads URLs as long as you are using auto-tagging.

2. Create your links with the URL builder.

Campaign links consist of a URL address followed by a question mark (?), and then your campaign variables separated by ampersands (&), for example: http://www.example.com/?utm_source=adsite&utm_campaign=adcampaign.

However, you don't need to worry about link syntax if you use the URL Builder to generate your URLs. You can then copy and paste the links in your ad. If you're wondering which fields to fill in, you're ready for step 3, below.

3. Use only the campaign variables you need.

The URL Builder has six fields, but you generally need to use only Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, and Campaign Name. Campaign Term allows you to specify the paid search keyword. You can use Campaign Content to indicate the specific ad, button, or link that was clicked. The table below shows how you might tag the two kinds of online campaigns: email campaigns, and paid keywords.

  Email campaign Paid search campaign
Campaign Source newsletter1 yahoo
Campaign Medium email cpc
Campaign Term   the search term associated with this traffic
Campaign Content call_to_action_2  
Campaign Name productxyz productxyz

4. Don’t send personally identifiable information.

Note that the Analytics terms of service, which all Analytics customers must adhere to, prohibits sending personally identifiable information (PII) to Analytics, such as names, social security numbers, email addresses, or any similar data. Learn more about the Analytics privacy principles.

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