mobile display advertising

Our media formats are designed to reach the right audiences during key moments at strategic locations. Brands can laser-focus their messaging both physically and digitally. We’ve seen great success in pairing our real world media with mobile display advertising to further engage audiences.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is in regards to audience tracking of the mobile display advertisements. Perhaps we’re reaching people in select locations, and you want to better understand who’s coming and going from those locations. While there are some things we could implement on the programmatic end for advanced audience reporting, it’s not always necessary. Here’s a tutorial on how to create a tracking URL and how to measure audience insights from that tracking URL in Google Analytics. While it might sound daunting, it’s actually a very easy process!

(You’ve got this!)

Step One: Campaign Destination
Decide what happens post ad-click. Someone sees your mobile display ad banner, clicks and visits your website. What do you want him to see once he’s on your site? And what actions do you want him to take?

You may drive him to an existing page or a campaign-specific landing page that you build for the campaign. The page should reflect the creative of the ad and tie back to the copy on the ad. If there is an offer on the ad creative, that offer should be prominent once he clicks. That offer should also be easy-to-obtain, so there’s absolutely no disconnect between the ad and where he lands on your site. Give him a clear call-to-action, so he engages with your offer or consumes your content according to your own objectives.

Word Stream offers additional landing page tips on their blog.

Step Two: Creating a Tracking URL
The most common tracking URLs use UTM parameters. This creates a campaign-specific code at the end of your URL, so that you can easily track which campaigns are driving which traffic. As an example, the tracking URL would look something like this:

The bold section of the above URL contains the UTM parameters.

Google offers a free campaign URL builder. Actually, Google has three separate generators depending on if you’re sending traffic who clicks on your ad to a website or directly to an app for download.

This post talks about driving traffic to a campaign page and measuring the traffic via Google Analytics, using the campaign landing page or website.

create a tracking URL

Once you have decided where ad traffic will go, head over to the URL builder.

  • Enter the full landing page or website URL you’ve selected as the campaign destination in step one above.
  • Enter the campaign source. For our advertisers, this may be “doitoutdoors” or “mobilebillboard”, as examples.
  • For the medium, you’re using mobile display ads, so you may want to use “display” or “mobiledisplay” or “mobilebanners”, etc.
  • For the campaign name, you can customize that to what we’re promoting. Perhaps it’s a grand opening “grandopening” or a President’s Day Sale “presidentsday”.
  • The campaign term field would be for search campaigns, not display. You can skip this one.
  • If you’re using multiple creative sets, you may want to label each creative with a different tracking URL. For campaign content, you can assign a URL for each piece of creative. For example, one of our clients used a set of creatives that featured a hiker and another set of creative that featured a jogger. So to differentiate which creative was resonating with various audiences, they could track via “hiker” or “jogger”.

You’ll want to develop a consistent method for URL naming and campaign naming, to make this step super easy – and also, easy to track your URLs for campaigns to come! Your tracking URL naming conventions should be easily to replicate from campaign to campaign.

create a UTM tracking URL

As you enter the information, you’ll start to see your custom link generate below. When you’re satisfied, just copy your URL and record it for your campaign. (I just use Excel or a notepad doc. If you’re using a project management tool for your campaign, you can record there.) Then, pass that URL along to us to apply on your mobile display campaign.

Note: You may need to do a hard refresh (CTRL + F5) to clear your current tracking URL before creating a second.

I learned over at Hallam that you can enter this text in the HTML of your landing page, so that visitors don’t see the long URL you just generated in their address bar, if that’s important to you.

_gaq.push(function() {

window.history.pushState(”,”, ‘some-page‘);


The URL they see in their address bar will be whatever you place in the ‘some-page’ portion of this HTML code.

Step Three: Find the Campaign in Google Analytics
Now that you’ve created a tracking URL with UTM parameters, you can easily collect traffic and audience insights from your campaign right inside your Google Analytics account.

Once any traffic has come to the site from your campaign’s tracking URL, Google Analytics will automatically detect the UTM parameters and recognize it as a campaign.

You can find our tracking URL under Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns.

google analytics campaigns

Then you’ll see the name of your campaign (from the URL you built).

Just as you can break down the users, sessions, bounce rate and average session duration from any other page, here you can see all the top-level data from your tracking URL. Adjust the dates at the top to measure key flights.

Step Four: Create a Custom Report to Uncover the Campaign’s Audience Insights
If you want to understand the type of audience you’re attracting with your campaign URL, I recommend building a custom report. This will extract your audience insights of the web users to the specific group of visitors who came via your tracking URL. This provides advanced options to measure tracking URLs via Google Analytics. This also will help you understand the type of audiences in the key locations where you’re activating both the out-of-home media and serving mobile display ads.

Go to Customization > Custom Reports. Add a new custom report here.

Google Analytics

When you are in the Edit Custom Report screen, you:

  • Name the report, such as your campaign name in the Title field
  • Look toward the bottom of your screen to find Filters, and include your Campaign filter with the exact name of your campaign per the Campaigns section from step three above
  • Once your campaign filter is set, you can create a series of tabs under Report Content to track your audience metrics
    • Name the tab “Age”
    • Under Metric Groups, select Users
    • Under Dimension Drilldowns, select Age
    • Repeat for “Gender”, “Affinity” and “In-Market Segments” (my recommendations, but you can add any metrics you’d like to see)
  • Add additional tabs as you’d like; for example, maybe you want to track mobile v. tablet, or add location data, or track by creative, or view peaks by day or time of day – customize away!
  • Hit “Save” at the bottom once you have your custom report set up (don’t panic, you can always edit later)
custom report in Google Analytics

If you have pre-saved segments or goals, you can use those in your custom reports.

Now, you’ll be able to see your saved report under Custom Reports each time you login. You can adjust the dates at the top of the page to measure by key flights. Just use the tabs you set up at the top to navigate to the various audience data for the campaign.

measure tracking URLs via Google Analytics

I like to go beyond age and gender when identifying a marketing audience. Google Analytics’s Affinity Audiences look at a user’s overall interests, passions and lifestyle. And the In-Market Audiences are composed of those who are actively searching for specific categories of products or services. These help shape a better view of the audience by leveraging social, browsing and search history.

Keep in mind that no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is shared. However, you can still start to get a good sense of who your audience is from this tracking URL. For example, you may determine that your campaign is attracting mostly 25-34 year-old females who are media and entertainment lovers and who may be currently on the hunt for apparel and accessories.

Step Five: Take Action on Insights
All marketing data needs to be actionable. Between the reporting you’ll receive from our digital AdOps team regarding the campaign performance and what actions your on-page audience is taking, you certainly have a lot of data to mine through. When you interpret the overall data, you can inform your future campaign decisions to improve results.

Steps we can take to better optimize your campaign:

  • Allocate more ads in key locations – both physically and digitally – based on both performance by location and audience profile of each location
  • Serve more of one creative set over another
  • Daypart ads according to day/time of day of highest activity
  • Double down on specific audience segments
  • Bid higher on placements that are performing well
  • Hone in on certain devices or mobile carriers
  • Adjust frequency caps to find the right balance of reach and frequency
  • Make design or content edits to your landing page
  • Build look-alike audiences based on those who are most engaged

All of this information helps you know how to reach and resonate better with your audiences in the future. It gives you some evidence of what they’re interested in and how you can personalize future conversations. It helps you tell a fuller story about the campaigns you run, and it provides information that leads to better ad choices.

Of course, there are always limitations to what you can pull from Google Analytics. Yet, it’s a free source of information that can help you make key insights. Let the data dictate what you do next!

“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” // Dan Zarrella

We’re happy to walk you through the best ways to measure and optimize your integrated campaigns. Give us a call, and let’s get started!

Images provided are examples only, to help guide your set-up. Links to external sources are not endorsements but shared with you as links I personally found helpful!