How tracking links are constituted

Overview

The process of constituting a tracking link is rather complex. This article seeks to give you an overview of all the different steps of the process. Knowing all these steps will give you a better understanding of how tracking works. Perhaps, you will also see new possibilities for tracking and its implementation.

Wording

The term tracking link is somewhat unprecise. In the context of the platform, the following links and codes need to be distinguished from one another:

  • The tracking code, which is placed on the confirmation page of a conversion on the website or mobile app of an advertiser. These codes track conversions and all the data related to them. They are not the topic of this article. For more information on tracking codes, please read this article.

  • The click URL, which is related to an ad media item and integrated on the ad space of a partner. It is used to track clicks on ad media items.

  • The ad impression URL, which is related to a visual ad media item such as a banner and integrated on the ad space of a partner. It is used to track impressions of ad media items.

  • The target URL, which is the URL of the advertiser’s website or mobile app used to redirect customers who click on an ad media item. In the case of SEO-friendly tracking, the target URL will be implemented on the ad space of a partner directly.

Let’s first create an overview of all the different factors that constitute tracking links:

  • The tracking domain of the advertiser.

  • The tracking settings of the advertiser, in particular additional parameters.

  • The settings of the ad media kit.

  • The settings of the ad media item.

  • Additional modifications, in particular deeplinking.

Now let’s go through all these different factors in detail one by one.

Tracking domain

The tracking domain is the domain via which ad impressions, clicks and conversions. It provides the base for tracking codes, ad impression URLs and click URLs. In case of first party tracking and tracking is taking place on the domain of the advertiser, it will have the following format:

1 net.advertisername.com

In case of third party tracking and tracking takes place via an alien domain – usually the name of the platform – it will have the following format:

1 net.platformname.com

To find out more about tracking domains and learn how you can create and edit them, please read this article.

It is important to note that the tracking domain does not define the target URL. As we shall see below, the target URL is defined by the settings of the ad media kit and the ad media item and usually contain the domain of the advertiser.

Advertiser tracking settings

Overview

The advertiser tracking settings cover multiple things. For a comprehensive overview, please read this article. In relation to the constitution of tracking links, the following things are important:

  • Whether you choose to distribute SEO-friendly tracking links.

  • Whether you add additional parameters to your tracking links.

When you choose to distribute SEO-friendly tracking links, partners can integrate the target URL in the ad space directly, as alternative for the click URL. Tracking will be triggered via the so called on-page code on the website or mobile app of the advertiser. To find out more about SEO-friendly tracking, please read this article.

Additional parameters

Additional parameters allow you to transmit data from the tracking application to an external tool. This tool can be an analytical tool used to understand the behavior of clients on the advertiser’s website, or a CRM application. The parameters will be automatically added to any target URL created for the advertiser to which the tracking settings are related.

There are three types of additional parameters:

  • Static parameters, which transmit a static value.

  • Dynamic parameters, which transmit a dynamic value such as the ad media ID, the ID of the ad space, etc.

  • Parameters related to external reference mapping, which conditionally transmit values from an external tool.

To find out how you can add additional parameters and what dynamic values are available, please read this article. After the additional parameters are added, the target URL will have the following format:

1 www.advertiserdomain.com/?platform=platformname&source=#{ADMEDIA_KIT_ID}&crm=#{ext_mapping_value_CRM}

Please note the values for ‘source’ and ‘crm’ are represented by placeholders.

A particular point of interest in the settings of additional parameters is the ‘replace if exists’ setting:

  • If you activate the ‘replace if exists’ setting, any identical parameter added to the target URL in a later phase will be overwritten.

  • If ‘replace if exists’ is not activated, the parameter added later will replace the parameter from the tracking settings.

Finally, please note that any changes to the additional parameters in the tracking settings will be applied to all target URLs related to the advertiser, including existing target URLs.

Ad media kit settings

The ad media kit is a folder used to organize ad media. The settings allow you to relate ad media items in the folder to a specific campaign or to a tracking channel. For more information, please read this article. In the context of tracking links the ad media kit settings are important because they are used to define the target URL. Usually, the target URL will be related to a page on the advertiser’s website or mobile app and therefore contain the advertiser’s domain. Please note that this does not need to be the main page: the ad media kits allow you to use different pages as a target URLs and not loose overview.

The additional parameters you have created for the advertiser in the tracking settings will be automatically added to all target URLs you create for the advertiser. Potentially, you can add more parameters to the target URL in the ad media kit settings. These parameters will then be added exclusively to the target URLs of the ad media items in the kit.

In case you add a parameter that is identical with a parameter you added on the level of the tracking settings, there are two possibilities:

  • If you activated the ‘replace if exists’ for the identical parameter, the parameter you add to the target URL of the ad media kit will be overwritten by the parameter you added in the tracking settings, i.e. the value chosen in the tracking settings will be used.

  • If you did not activate the ‘replace if exists’ for the identical parameter, the parameter you add to the target URL of the ad media kit will overwrite the parameter you added in the tracking settings, i.e. the value chosen in the ad media kit settings will be used.

Please note that for any change you make to the target URL on ad media kit level, be it a change of the page you direct to or a change to a parameter, you will have to choose whether the change will apply to all ad media items in the kit, to new ad media items created for the kit or to the ad media items that are identical with the previous version of the target URL. This last options allows you to edit previous changes.

Ad media item settings

If you create an ad media item, it will automatically be given the target URL of the ad media kit it is related to. The target URL will also include the parameters you added to the tracking settings and parameters you added to the target URL of the ad media kit.

If you want, you can change the target URL for an individual ad media item. You can also add parameters on this level. For comprehensive instructions, please read this article. The possibility to change gives you the possibility to differentiate the target URLs within the ad media kits. However, you are not able to remove the parameters you added in the tracking settings of the advertisers, unless the ‘replace if exist’ setting is not active. When you add parameters identical with parameters you added on the level of the ad media kit, the parameters on the level of the ad media item will be used.

In the context of ad media, the HTML-items represent a special case. As you can read in the paragraph on HTML-items, you can either use the existing target URLs in the HTML-codes or use the target URL in the ad media kit settings or, alternatively, the ad media item settings. In the first case, only parameters enclosed in the original target URL will be taken into consideration. In the second case, parameters from the tracking settings, the ad media kit and the ad media item will be added to the target URL automatically.

Once the tracking settings have been defined, the ad media kit settings have been defined and the ad media item has been created, the platform will automatically create click URLs and ad impression URLs. If SEO-friendly tracking has been activated in the tracking settings of the advertiser, the platform will also automatically create an SEO-friendly tracking link. All these URLs are distributed via the partner UI. If partners are external and manage their own ad spaces, they can collect these URLs themselves and integrate them. If a partner represents a channel, as in the case of an internal newsletter or SEA, you will have to collect these URLs yourself. You do this by logging in to the relevant partner account. For comprehensive instructions, please read this article.

For a comprehensive explanation of the format and content of the standard click URL, please read this paragraph in the article on partner ad media. SEO-friendly tracking URLs are identical with the target URL, as was mentioned above. For a comprehensive explanation on the format and content of the ad impression URL, please read this paragraph in the article on the partner ad media. Please note that for HMTL-items, you will find the target URL replaced by a click URL in the script, regardless whether you kept the original target URL in the script or worked with placeholders for the target URL of the ad media kit or the individual ad media item.

Deeplinking

Deeplinking is a method used to redirect customers to a specific page on the advertiser’s website while making sure they remain tracked. External partners who manage their own account will use deeplinking if they want to direct customers to a page for which there is no ad media item. For partners that represent channels that manage yourself (SEA, CRM, etc.), deeplinking is very effective when you want to promote a variety of pages that frequently change. Think, for example, about a newsletter you send out to existing customers: quite often you will want to refer to multiple pages in one newsletter and most of these pages will be used for one campaign only.

External partners can use the deeplink generator, which is usually offered in their partner UI. They can also create deeplinks manually, which you will probably want to do for partners that represent channels you manage yourself as well. What it comes down to is that you add a parameter to a click URL which overwrites the target URL of the ad media item. For comprehensive instructions on creating deeplinks, please read this article.

It is also possible to work with deeplinking in scripted ad media items, such as HTML-items. This is only relevant when you have removed the original target URLs from the script of the item and replaced it with placeholders for the target URL from the ad media kit or individual ad media item. This can be important, for example, when you with rotating banners and need to implement different target URLs. To add deeplinks, you can follow the same instructions mentioned above.

When the target URL of the ad media item to which the original click URL is linked, any parameter added to the target URL in the ad media kit or the target URL of the ad media item will be ignored. However, additional parameters registered in the tracking settings will be included.