URL parameters (called also as URL tags, or Click tags) are simply extra information that will be added to the end of each link. The information makes it possible to track individual ads with Google Analytics and other external tracking tools. The following example shows the difference between a link with and without URL parameters tags.
- A link without URL tags:
- A link to URL tags added:
URL tags are parameters appended to the links after ? sign. We send a separate parameter to Facebook called url_tags which Facebook then automatically appends into the links of paid ads. If the ad is shared organically, the URL tags are not appended.
Facebook parses the tags and if the URL link has a ? sign, the URL tags may be incorrectly appended and the link becomes broken. Facebook then just assumes the URL tags are just extra parameters and appends them with & sign.
URL parameters can be included to your links in two ways, and depending on how you include them, they will appear in your posts differently.
Campaign URL parameters
Note that UTM-tag values are CASE SENSITIVE
Example: utm_source=Facebook does NOT equal utm_source=facebook
The easiest way to set up URL parameters to track your ad campaign is to use Macros under Tracking → URL Parameters.
Campaign URL parameters tags entered here will only be included to links of paid ad impressions.
In other words, these URL parameters set for campaign tracking won't be included in links when
- post is served organically on your page
- post is shared by a Facebook user
- viewing a preview of page post ads from Smartly.io
In paid ad impressions the URL Parameters included in all off-Facebook links of ads – but not in plain text links in Message text field, unless using Smartly.io s automatic Bit.ly link shortening feature with Append URL Parameters to all links option.
Carousel ad "See more" card links include the URL Parameters in paid ad impressions.
Default Campaign URL Parameters
The default Campaign URL Parameters on the account level can be set in Smartly.io under Settings → Campaign Defaults → Default URL Parameters. By default, Smartly.io has the following click tags for all your offsite links.
|URL parameter||Description||Default value at Smartly.io||Default macro in Smartly.io|
|utm_source||Where the traffic comes from|
|utm_campaign||Your campaign name||Your Smartly.io campaign name||#CAMPAIGN_NAME#|
|utm_content||More specific details about the ad||Campaign name, targeting, bid type, creative type and creative name||#AD_NAME#|
|utm_id||Unique ID to connect with external data||Smartly.io ID of the ad||#SMARTLY_ID#|
|utm_medium||The advertising medium the traffic came from||Social|
See the full list of available macros here
ProTip: You can also use Facebook's macro to track cross-placement impressions, which is especially useful when using automatic placement.
Note: Out of the available UTM tags, the following are mandatory for GA tracking to work correctly: [www.smartly.io]
- utm_id (not necessary for tracking in GA, but required for Smartly.io integration)
If you make any changes to the Default Campaign URL parameters, these changes will only be applied to NEW ads. To apply the changes to existing campaigns
- Go to the edit campaign view and navigate to the Tracking section
- Check the box for Edit and recalculate URL parameters in this campaign
- Ensure the same UTM parameters you configured in the tracking settings are there
- To publish the changes, click Update Campaign
Creative URL Parameters
You can also include URL tags manually in the Link URLs of creatives in Ad creatives → Link URL. URL tags included in Link URLs are also included in organic impressions of the post.
Combining Campaign and Creative URL Parameters
In paid ad impressions, if the same URL tag parameter is set both in Campaign URL Parameters and Link URL of creative, the one set for campaign tracking in Tracking → URL Parameters will override and replace the parameter in Link URL of creative.
In organic impressions only the URL Parameters set in Link URL of creative will be present.
URL tags in previews
Regular previews of page post ads do not contain the Campaign URL Parameters set under the Tracking tab. These previews of the page post ads contain only Click tags included directly in the link URL of the page post. Do not use view post on Facebook to preview click tags, because they are not shown here.
If you want to visualize a preview of your link with URL Parameters appended select Link with URL tags in the creative preview. This is the quickest way to have an idea of how your final link is going to look like, but please note that in this case the link is built by us so there's still a possibility it differs from the behavior of Facebook occasionally.
To have an actual view of the optional URL Parameters appended to the link, the best option is to select View ad in ads manager. By clicking this, you will see your creative in Facebook Ads Manager. Under the creative preview, click on Ad Preview and Placements.
And then click on View in News Feed (Desktop).
Now you will see a preview of the ad in your Facebook Newsfeed, and the links contain your optional URL Parameters.
With Right-Hand Column (RHC) ads the situation is a bit different than page post ads. Previews of Right-Hand Column ads have Campaign URL Parameters appended to links the same way as the paid impressions of RHC ads.
About link shorteners (bit.ly, goo.gl, tinyurl.com, ow.ly, is.gd, etc.)
There are no added benefits to using link shorteners in the Link URL field of your ads.
Most link shortener won't keep the URL Parameters.
if the Link URL field contains a link like:
http://bit.ly/12345 which redirect to http://smartly.io,
the paid impressions Link URL will look like:
However, when the user will click on that link, bit.ly will strip out all the parameters and redirect the user to the shortened link which is http://smartly.io. The traffic will be recorded in the analytics tool but it won't appear as a campaign.
One option is to include the URL Parameters in the shortened URL so that http://bit.ly/12345 will redirect to http://smartly.io/?utm_source=fb_paid&utm_campaign=campaignUS-Feb16
However, this link is not visible anywhere. So there is no good reason to shorten it.
If you still want to do this you will face two problems:
- Smartly.io is not able to provide dynamic URL Parameters like ad name, targeting name, etc. The tags are static and they will stay the way you configured them in bit.ly or the shortener you are using.
- You have no chance to understand which part of the traffic is organic, which part is paid (see above: Combining Campaign and Creative URL Parameters)
Smartly.io recommends you do NOT use link shortener in the Link URL field.
Mobile App Ads and URL parameters
Facebook does not support the use of URL parameters with Mobile App Ads for paid impressions. In Smartly.io this means that when trying to include URL parameters for a Mobile App campaign, the URL parameters added in the tracking tab will not get saved.
Nonetheless, you can still include URL parameters directly to the deep link of the ad creative in a similar fashion as with any normal website link. This would make the URL parameters appear as organic impressions instead. However, bear in mind that Google Analytics tracking does not work with mobile app ads in Facebook ads.
Moreover, URL parameters do not get passed along in deferred deep linking (when a user does not have the app installed and gets redirected to the store first). This means that URL parameters are not able to track app installs.
Both Facebook and Smartly.io recommend using a Mobile Measurement Partner instead of Google Analytics for Mobile App Analytics. Currently, Smartly.io has integrations with Adjust, Appsflyer and Branch.io. See Introduction to Mobile Measurement Partners (MMP) for more information and instructions for setting up specific integrations.