The only way for you to see which advertising media are actually returning your investment is to tag your ads. It’s an extremely simple process with Google Analytics, once you’re prepared with the basic knowledge on how to categorize your various campaigns.

First, understand that you only tag what you need to tag. Don’t confuse yourself, or add unnecessary work. For example, if you need to track a Google AdWords account that is linked with your Google Analytics account, you don’t need to tag your AdWords URLs at all. Google Analytics does it automatically. Other paid marketing campaigns like banners, and unpaid media like email campaigns should definitely be tagged.


You can’t tag organic results (of course), and depending on how you want to measure any affiliate program you’re enrolled in, it’s not necessary to tag them either. Search engine traffic will automatically register in Google Analytics, along with keyword metrics. Your referrals for all other sites are also counted, and will be displayed automatically under referral reports.

Use only the tags that you need. In keeping with the above sentiment of avoiding wasteful labor, you don’t need to go all-out with tagging variables either. There are five campaign variables, and all can be used with a variety of advertising media. The table below describes each variable. You can hold your mouse over the variable name for more information:

Banner Ad Email Newsletter CPC
Source foodtv newsletter0601 ysm
Medium banner email cpc
Campaign Restaurant ThaiBitesNews Restaurant
Term thai+restaurant
Content foodtv_120x240 newsletter0601a thai_a

You certainly don’t need to use every single one of these, though. The ones you’ll want to become intimately familiar with are Source, Medium, Campaign, and if you’re tracking paid keywords, Term. When you’re trying to find out which ad creative is performing best, Content can be a great addition to the mix, as well.

Is all of this a little too complex for you? No problem. Use our Google Analytics Destination URL Builder and let us do the work for you. Plug in your variables, click a button, and we’ll generate your tagged link. Simply cut and paste into your ad.

If you need even more help with this, then look for our free URL Builder Training Video (opt-in box in the upper right hand side of the page). This is an 11-minute Camtasia video that walks you step by step to using our Google Analytics URL Builder tool.