Manage ads

Set up tracking ads

Use tracking ads to track non-Campaign Manager content. This way, you can use Campaign Manager reporting tools to check clicks and impressions even when content is not served by Campaign Manager.

  • Record impressions and clicks on ads that are not served by Campaign Manager, including on mobile applications.

  • Record impressions and clicks on HTML emails (they must allow images and referrer calls).

Tracking ads are easier to set up than an impression pixel and click tracker combination. Unlike click trackers, tracking ads record impressions as well as clicks.

How tracking ads work

Tracking ads don’t display anything to users. Instead, you set them up to register clicks and impressions on another ad. Your tracking ad is served by Campaign Manager, but the other ad is not. Each time the non-Campaign Manager ad serves, Campaign Manager serves your tracking ad alongside it. The tracking ad captures data on the third-party ad.

How it works

The tag for a tracking ad is a URL that the publisher implements with the third-party ad you wish to serve. This URL sends data about the third-party ad’s activity to the Campaign Manager servers. Because the URL corresponds to your tracking ad, the activity is incorporated into your Campaign Manager reports. The reports make it clear that Campaign Manager did not serve the actual ad. Tracking placement tags contain hard-coded tracking ad and creative IDs, which ensures that each ad corresponds to a unique tracking URL.

  • Impressions: When the third-party ad serves, the tracking ad serves as well. Nobody sees the tracking ad, but it logs the impression in Campaign Manager. So the tracking ad is a little like an impression pixel: it registers the impression without displaying anything to the user.

  • Clicks: When a user clicks the third-party ad, the browser is pointed toward your tracking placement tag URL. This allows Campaign Manager to log the click before redirecting the browser to your tracking ad’s landing page.

Tracking ad setup

Step 1. Set up tracking ads in Campaign Manager

  1. In your campaign, click New > Tracking to create a tracking ad.

  2. Under Delivery properties, set the time period when you want tracking ad to collect data.

    If you want the tracking ad to keep collecting data until you manually deactivate it, uncheck the hard cut-off box and lock the start/end dates of the tracking creative.

    See the tracking requirements below for details on how dates and other factors affect whether your tracking ad can collect data.

  3. Set the landing page for your tracking ad in the Creative assignments section of your ad properties.

    What landing page should I set?

    Typically, this should be a landing page related to the third-party ad. A user who clicks on the third-party ad will in most cases be redirected to your tracking ad, which logs the click and then redirects to the desired landing page (or to yet another tracking service).

    Custom deep links are supported as landing pages for tracking ads. 

    Can I use a static landing page?

    You can enable static tracking ad landing pages on each assigned placement. Open the placement and enable static URLs for tracking ads under "Tag defaults." This means the landing page you set in the tracking ad properties will be hard-coded into your placement tags. It will not change unless you change the URL in Campaign Manager and then re-generate your tags. Dynamic landing page URLs can be changed at anytime in Campaign Manager because they are not hard-coded into the tags.

  4. Choose a landing page URL suffix and check which event tags are applied to your tracking ad.

    Landing page URL suffix

    Here you can enter a suffix to be appended to the landing page URL of this ad. Leave the suffix locked to use whatever suffix is set at the advertiser or campaign level.

    Note: The suffix is only supported for tracking ads when you use them to track clicks. Learn more

    Event tags

    Event tags contain tracking URLs for third parties. These URLs allow parties outside Campaign Manager to log information about impressions and clicks on your ads. When you apply an event tag to your ad, the ad uses the third-party URL in the event tag. Tracking ads support both impression event tags and click event tags.

    You can create event tags in your advertiser or campaign and choose whether to apply them automatically to your ads or require they be added manually.

    • Choose which impression and click tags to apply to this particular ad in the "Event tags" section. Learn more about how to apply event tags

    • Be sure to include include the JS and iframe versions in the tracking creative section of your placement tag. See below to learn more about tracking ads and event tags.

  5. Optional: Assign targeting keys to your tracking ad.

    Dynamic targeting keys

    Dynamic targeting keys are unique, friendly labels that can be assigned to ads, creatives and placements and used for targeting with Studio dynamic creatives. Use these labels to save time and avoid errors when you use numeric Campaign Manager IDs (such as placement IDs) in your dynamic feeds.

    Click Assign targeting key to create and assign a key to your ad. Learn more about dynamic targeting keys

  6. Create a tracking creative and a placement. Assign the tracking creative to your tracking ad and assign the tracking ad to your placement.

    New tracking creative

    In your campaign (or on the Creatives tab of your advertiser), click New > Tracking to create a tracking creative. Next, select your tracking ad in your campaign and assign the tracking creative to your ad in the Creative assignments section of your ad properties.

    Optional: Creative fields

    You can add creative fields in your tracking creative properties. Creative fields normally label the creative in your ad for reporting purposes. Tracking ads don’t display creatives, but you might want to add creative fields here to label the third-party creative and third-party ad that your tracking ad is going to track.

    New placement

    Click New > Placement to create a new placement for your tracking ad and tracking creative. Next, find your tracking ad in your campaign and click Assign under the Placements column.

    Optional: use a static landing page URL

    This option is sometimes useful to traffickers who have an existing workflow for their tracking ads that requires static URLs. Under Tag defaults in your placement properties, you can enable the static landing page URL checkbox to make your tracking ad’s landing page URL static.

    Static URLs don’t change for any tracking placement tags once you export them. The only way to change the landing page URL for those tags is to export new tags and ask the publisher to implement them.

    By default, tracking ad landing page URLs are dynamic: for dynamic URLs, all you have to do to change the URL for your live tracking ads is edit the URL in the ad properties (under Creative assignments). The changes apply to your tags even though they are already exported and on sites.

    If you already have the placement and creative you need, you can make assignments in your ad properties. Steps to make assignments in Campaign Manager.

    If your placement has a tracking ad, Campaign Manager will not require a default ad. This is because placements with tracking ads are not meant to display content on a page. They only generate a tag that allows Campaign Manager to capture data about a third-party ad.

  7. Set the status of your tracking ad to Active to enable it to start logging clicks and impressions.

    Note: If you ever need to stop the tracking ad from logging information, just set the status to inactive or archived.

  8. Placement tags on in-app inventory require extra parameters for many important features. These parameters are dc_rdid= and tag_for_child_directed_treatment= and dc_lat=.

    These parameters are all automatically included in your tag exports for all in-app placements.

    To learn more about these parameters and mobile ad serving, see our mobile guide.

Step 2. Export tracking placement tags

Follow the normal steps to download or send tags. If you're new to exporting placement tags, here are detailed steps to send or download tags.

Here are some tips when you download tags for tracking ads:

  • Choose iframe/JS tags for event tag tracking: If you are using event tags with your tracking ads: Make sure you include JavaScript or Iframe tag types (it's best to send both). Impression event tags are not supported for standard tags.

  • Include tracking ads when you generate tags: Be sure to check the Include tracking ads checkbox in your tag export workflow. If you download tags, this checkbox will appear on the left of your placement list. If you send tags, this checkbox will appear on the following page, under "Attachment properties."

  • Check tags: If you chose to download your tags, you can open your file to check them. Each tracking placement tag includes a URL for impressions and a URL for clicks. You can find the URLs in different places depending on the tag format you use:
    • Excel format: the URLs are added on a separate worksheet in your Excel file.

    • Text format: the URLs are appended as text to the rest of your tags.

    • HTML format: the URLs are added as table rows.

Sample tags for tracking ads

Here is an example of the tag format for a tracking ad. There are different tag versions for the assigned tracking creative. You can see placeholders for the site keyname, creative/ad/placement IDs, and timestamp in your tags.

Impressions (image):

<IMG SRC="https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/Nxxxx.site-keyname/Byyyyyyy.n;dc_trk_aid={ad_id};dc_trk_cid={creative_id};ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=N;dc_rdid=Czzzz;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=I?" BORDER="0" HEIGHT="1" WIDTH="1" ALT="Advertisement">

Impressions (iframe):

<IFRAME SRC="https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimpi/Nxxxx.site-keyname/Byyyyyyy.n;dc_trk_aid={ad_id};dc_trk_cid={creative_id};ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=N;dc_rdid=Czzzz;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=I?" WIDTH=1 HEIGHT=1 MARGINWIDTH=0 MARGINHEIGHT=0 HSPACE=0 VSPACE=0 FRAMEBORDER=0 SCROLLING=no BORDERCOLOR='#000000'></IFRAME>

Impressions (JavaScript):

<SCRIPT language='JavaScript1.1' SRC="https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimpj/Nxxxx.site-keyname/Byyyyyyy.n;dc_trk_aid={ad_id};dc_trk_cid={creative_id};ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=N;dc_rdid=Czzzz;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=I?"></SCRIPT>

Clicks:

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackclk/Nxxxx.site-keyname/Byyyyyyy.n;dc_trk_aid={ad_id};dc_trk_cid={creative_id};dc_lat=N;dc_rdid=Czzzz;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=I

Requirements for your tracking ad to collect data

Requirements for standard ads to serve or tracking ads to collect data

These are the requirements for standard ads to serve and tracking ads to collect data. If your ad isn't working, check these details to troubleshoot the issue.

Required status and rotation

  • At least one active creative must be assigned to the ad.

  • The ad must have an active status. At least one of its creatives must be active, too.

  • The ad must be included in rotation for the placement. And at least one of the creatives must be included in rotation for the ad. (Check the Include in rotation column in your campaign view.)

Required scheduling / delivery properties

  • The ad and creative must have both reached their start dates. Make sure the current date and time is after the start date for the ad and creative.

  • At least one assigned creative must be between its start date and end date. Otherwise, no assigned creatives can be delivered and the ad cannot serve.

  • If the ad has a hard cut-off, the ad end date must be in the future. If the ad does not have a hard cut-off, the end date does not have to be in the future. (There is a hard cut-off checkbox that you can enable next to the ad end date in the ad properties.)

  • The ad must have a priority that allows it to serve. Campaign Manager will always serve ads with a low priority number before it serves ads with a high priority number.

    If you ad is not serving, check the other assigned ads. Do the other assigned ads have a lower priority number? Your ad will not serve if other eligible ads have a lower priority number and are always eligible to serve. This may happen if you change the priority manually.

Learn more about scheduling below.

Required site and user details for your ad to serve

  • The placement tags must be live and functional on the publisher's site or network.

  • Site visitors must meet any ad targeting criteria set in Campaign Manager, and Campaign Manager must detect that the user's device can support the assigned creatives.

  • If you set a frequency cap, the ad must not have reached it. That means it has not served too many times to the same user (i.e., to a browser associated with the same DoubleClick cookie) based on your frequency cap settings in the ad properties.

  • As noted above, a standard ad must have a click or impression in the last 30 days after the ad end date. Campaign Manager will automatically deactivate the ad if it goes more than 30 days after the end date without a click or impression.

Required dimensions

  • Display placements can have many sizes, and the ads assigned to them need to have at least one creative of each size. Only creatives that match the placement size will serve from the assigned ad. 

Ad and creative scheduling

How it works
  • Standard ads can start serving on the ad start date under "Delivery properties." They can deliver any creatives that are also scheduled to start (based on the creative start dates). By default, any creatives you assign are set to start delivery at the same time. But you can change your creative schedule under "Creative assignments." There are fields for start/end dates for each assigned creative. This way, you can schedule different creatives to serve at different times.

  • Tracking ads can start serving (i.e., collect data) on the ad start date. By default, the assigned tracking creative is scheduled to start delivery and collect data at the same time. As with standard ads, you can change this under "Creative assignments."

  • Standard and tracking ads only stop serving on the ad end date if you check the "Hard cut-off" box. Otherwise, the ad will continue delivery, provided its Campaign Manager settings meet the other criteria. This includes having one or more creatives that are scheduled to serve.

How to change your ad and creative schedule

How to schedule ads

Click the "Start date and time" and "End date and time" fields to edit them. The ad end date doesn't apply unless you check the "Hard cut-off" box next to it.

If you want your ad to continue serving past its end date, uncheck the hard cut-off box and make sure at least one creative end date is locked to the ad.

How to schedule creatives

Open the "Creative assignments" section and find the start/end date columns. Unlock any date you want to change.

  • A locked date/time is locked to your ad schedule: it updates automatically to match your ad. For example, if you set an ad to start on 3/1/14 12:00 pm, the creative updates to start on 3/1/14 12:00pm. That way, your creative is always able to serve with the ad.

  • An unlocked date/time can be edited manually, and it doesn't update to match your ad's schedule. Click the lock icon to unlock a date/time. This option is useful if you want to set different creatives to run with your ad at different times. For example, you might schedule one creative to run the first week and another creative to run the second week.

Tips for creative scheduling:

  • Creative assignment settings only affect when your creative can be delivered with this particular ad. Your creative can have different run dates for each ad it's assigned to.

  • Make sure at least one creative is scheduled to serve on the ad start date. Otherwise, your ad will not be able to deliver anything to the placement and Campaign Manager will need to pick another ad. Or, in the case of tracking ads, the tracking ad will stop collecting data.

  • If you lock your creative end date and disable the ad's hard cut-off, the ad can continue serving indefinitely, even after the ad and creative end dates. However, Campaign Manager will automatically deactivate a standard ad if it goes more than 30 days after the end date without a click or impression. This does not affect tracking ads.

  •  

How hard cut-offs and creative dates work together
Ad settings Creative start date Creative end date What happens after the creative end date?
Hard cut-off + unlocked creative start or end dates This can be any date within the ad start/end dates. It defaults to the ad start date, but you can edit it because it's unlocked. This date can be any date within the ad run dates. It defaults to the ad end date, but you can edit it because it's unlocked.

Standard ads: If your ad is still scheduled to serve after the creative end date, then Campaign Manager will pick another assigned creative to deliver. If the ad has no other eligible creatives, then Campaign Managerwill choose another ad for the impression. If your placement has no other eligible ads, then Campaign Manager will send a transparent pixel.

Tracking ads: The ad stops collecting data.

Hard cut-off + locked creative start or end dates Same as the ad start date. The creative dates are locked to the ad. Same as the ad end date. The creative end date is the same as the ad end date because it's locked to the ad.

Standard ads: Creative delivery stops on the ad end date, so Campaign Manager must serve a different ad in this case. If your placement has no other eligible ads, then Campaign Manager will send a transparent pixel.

Tracking ads: The ad stops collecting data.

No hard cut-off + unlocked creative start or end dates This date can be any date within the ad run dates. It defaults to the ad start date, but you can edit it because it's unlocked. This date can be any date within the ad run dates. It defaults to the ad end date, but you can edit it because it's unlocked.

Standard ads: The ad stops delivering the creative on the creative end date. Campaign Manager must pick another creative for new impressions. If the ad has no other eligible creatives, then Campaign Manager will choose another ad for the impression. If your placement has no other eligible ads, then Campaign Manager will send a transparent pixel.

Tracking ads: The ad stops collecting data.

No hard cut-off + locked creative start or end dates Same as the ad start date. The creative dates are locked to the ad. Same as the ad end date. The creative end date is the same as the ad end date because it's locked to the ad.

Standard ads: The ad can continue delivering the creative indefinitely. However, if there are no clicks or impressions on the ad for any 30-day period after the ad end date, Campaign Manager will automatically deactivate the ad. If your placement has no other eligible ads, then Campaign Manager will send a transparent pixel.

Tracking ads: The ad can continue collecting data with the tracking creative indefinitely.

How Campaign Manager sets start/end dates when you create an ad

When you create an ad, Campaign Manager sets a default start and end date. Campaign Manager chooses different dates depending on when your campaign starts. You can edit these at any time. Here's how it works:

Campaign run dates Ad run dates Example
Campaign start date is in the future. By default, new ads take the current date as the ad start date and the campaign end date as the ad end date.

Say your campaign starts May 1st and ends July 1st. You create an ad on March 2nd, which is before the campaign start date. By default, Campaign Manager will set the ad to start March 2nd (current date) and end July 1st (campaign end date).

Campaign start date has arrived but not the end date. By default, new ads take the current date for the ad start date and the campaign end date for the ad end date.

Say your campaign starts May 1st and ends July 1st. You create an ad on June 16th. By default, Campaign Manager will set the ad to start June 16th (current date) and end July 1st (campaign end date).

Campaign end date has arrived. By default, new ads take the current date for the ad start date and the ad end date is set one month later.

Say your campaign starts May 1st and ends July 1st. You create an ad on August 16th. By default, Campaign Manager will set the ad to start August 16th (current date) and end September 16th (one month later).

Append a redirect to a tracking ad

If you need to redirect to a third-party impression pixel for tracking purposes, you can append the URL of the pixel to a tracking ad. Campaign Manager will redirect to that URL when serving the tracking ad instead of serving a 1x1 pixel. Use this method instead of using a redirect creative for this purpose.

  1. Follow the instructions above to create a tracking ad and generate a tracking ad tag.
  2. Once you have a tracking ad tag, append the URL of the third-party impression pixel to the impression section of the tag by adding a question mark (?) and the URL.
  3. Send the entire edited tracking ad tag to the publisher.

Here's a sample of what the edited tracking ad tag would look like with an appended URL:

<IMG SRC="https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/Nxxxx.site-keyname/Byyyyyyy.n;dc_trk_aid={ad_id};dc_trk_cid={creative_id};ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=N;dc_rdid=Czzzz;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=I?URL" BORDER="0" HEIGHT="1" WIDTH="1" ALT="Advertisement">

Last January it was announced that YouTube will move away from using third-party tracking pixels. 

As of May 21, 2018, only a small group of vendors are certified for measurement on YouTube: comScore, DoubleVerify, IAS, MOAT, Nielsen, Kantar, Research Now, and Google (including Google Marketing Platform).

If your tracking ad will serve on YouTube, it cannot make unapproved fourth-party calls to other vendors. 

Was this article helpful?
How can we improve it?