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What is Ad Tracking? How to Get Started With Ad Tracking

Business, SEO

What Is Ad Tracking?

Ad tracking is the process of keeping track of how much of an impact an advertising channel has. You can use ad tracking to track the return on investment for ad spending. Ad tracking also helps you to track exactly how effective your ad campaigns are and how much your ad spend translates to increased sales.

You can glean countless granular data points with your digital advertising and customer data, making it easy to see how ad campaigns impact sales in almost real-time.

While advertisers before the internet struggled with having almost no data to back up their new ad campaigns, modern digital advertisers have almost too much data. They must devote lots of time extracting the most valuable insights and trends from the plethora of data they gather. Ad tracking makes it easier for advertisers to measure their ads’ effectiveness, test new campaigns with minimal investment, and revise their ads more quickly in response to the data they gather from their tracking tools.

Ad Tracking

Digital advertising is a large part of how you grow your brand awareness. As a business owner, you should make sure every ad you purchase offers an acceptable return on the investment. Site owners must encourage their digital advertising teams to track their ads, find out who is engaging with them, and discover how to leverage ads more effectively. Follow the same protocol if you’re working with top digital marketing agencies instead of in-house digital marketing team. Remember, your words of encouragement will make ads more trackable and data-proof.

Ad tracking is a more complex process than it may seem at first. However, with the right tips and strategies, you can make ad tracking a viable and valuable part of your digital marketing campaigns.

Benefits of Using Ad Tracking

Here are some time tested benefits of incorporating ad tracking as part of your digital marketing strategy:

You get valuable insights about your target audience

Let’s face it — learning what your audience wants is the single most powerful tool in your arsenal to ensure that you can serve them better. And that is where ad tracking can give you an edge over your competitors. Ad tracking can provide you with deeper insights into your audience’s wants and behaviors, especially which ads engage them the most and what are their buying habits. You can leverage this information and serve them a tailormade experience.

You can shape better ad campaigns

Unless your campaigns are catered to the needs of your audience, they will fail to generate the results you desire. You end up designing ads that you think your audience may click with. But with ad tracking, you get every crucial detail about the motivations and interests of your audience and what motivates them to engage with a brand. The more ad tracking you use, the easier it is to monitor critical advertising metrics, including cost-per-click, conversion rates, and click-through rates. All these metrics directly determine your ad spending. Remember that failing to track your ads can mean that your business continues paying for low-value clicks and also incurs higher CPC.

Your ROI shoots up

Spending on digital marketing campaigns is no child’s play. Every business owner desires solid returns from ad spending. But unless you know what kind of ads to make, how do you ensure positive ROI? Since ad tracking allows you to create customized ads for your audience that you know they will love, the returns are considerably higher because the conversions automatically skyrocket.

Bring together marketing efforts across platforms and channels

It is no longer enough for a business to focus on a single platform. Multi-platform advertising is necessary to cut through the noise and get an edge over the competitors. But coordinating multi-platform strategies can be incredibly challenging. Ad tracing takes care of this worry as you can easily monitor the response and advertise to the same audience across channels. For instance, based on the kind of traffic you receive to your website, you can custom build audiences for Facebook ad campaigns through Facebook Pixel. It goes without saying that the convenience offered by ad tracking can boost your marketing efforts.

What Can You Track With Ad Tracking?

Data gathering is incredibly sophisticated and now forms a cornerstone of modern digital marketing. Ad tracking technology allows marketing and SEO companies teams to track click-through rates or the rates at which users click on paid ads and ads embedded in email messages, as well as a wide variety of other metrics, from page views to social media post impressions and return on investment for pay-per-click ad campaigns.

Ad tracking helps determine your audience’s behaviours and helps you better define their interests. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for appropriate ad tracking. Every business has different priorities and every ad campaign has unique goals. It’s essential for business leaders who develop new advertising campaigns to determine which metrics are most important and develop their own unique ad tracking systems.

How to Get Started With Ad Tracking

The first step in developing your own ad tracking system is to identify your pain points. Think about past ad campaigns that have underperformed and try to determine what went wrong. If you have past data as a reference, you can determine how your past digital ad efforts failed to meet your expectations and adjust accordingly for the future. For example, if you seemed to spend an inordinate amount of your marketing budget on Facebook ads and your ad tracking system reports that Facebook generated minimal traffic to your website, then you know that you don’t need to spend as much on Facebook marketing in the future.

Identifying your pain points helps you more clearly define your goals. You need to know what you intend to track before you start ad tracking. Are you interested in keeping visitors to your website on your page longer, or are you trying to drive more traffic through your paid ads on Google? Do you want to improve the clickthrough rate for your marketing emails? Set clearly defined goals for your next ad campaign and develop a tracking system that helps you mark your progress toward reaching those goals.

5 Types of Ad Tracking Methods

Several methods exist for ad tracking. It is ultimately up to you to decide which methods are most appropriate for your goals:
Methods of Ad Tracking

1. Tracking pixels

A tracking pixel is a 1×1 pixel image space that fits into the body of an email message. When a recipient opens the email to view the message, the tracking pixel transmits this data back to you to notify you the email was opened. Tracking pixels can potentially help you gain valuable insights about your customers’ buying journeys and overall relationships with your brand. However, you must use them conservatively and only track data that is relevant to your relationship with a customer and aimed at providing the customer with superior experiences with your brand. Tracking pixels are incredibly effective for optimizing the average customer’s buyer’s journey with your company.

2. Cookies

Virtually every internet user is familiar with cookies to some degree. Almost every major website now asks new users to agree to cookie use when visiting these pages for the first time. Cookies are temporary internet files that help advertising teams gain useful insights on user behaviours on their websites. However, sites must gain explicit consent to use cookies, hence the reason why cookies requests exist on virtually every major site today upon loading their landing pages.

3. DoubleClick ad tracking

Google acquired the DoubleClick ad platform in 2008 and now uses it to effectively run ad campaigns for advertisers across multiple channels. If you recently viewed a product listed for sale on an online retail site and then noticed ads for that item seemingly following you around the internet afterwards, this likely occurred due to DoubleClick ad tracking. Google rebranded the DoubleClick platform as Google Marketing, Google Ads, and Google Ad Manager, but the nuts and bolts remain the same. The system uses first and third-party cookies to analyze user behaviour and determine the best use of advertising space on a given site.

4. Facebook ad tracking

Facebook is still the leading social media platform and Facebook advertising is now a major digital marketing channel for countless businesses. You can use the Facebook ad tracking pixel to create custom ad targeting audiences, gain insights as to how user interaction with your Facebook page influences visits your website and determining purchase intent.

5. URL tracking

Probably the simplest form of ad tracking is URL tracking. When a user clicks a link associated with your ad campaign spanning multiple channels, you receive a report as to which channel generated the link. This is an incredibly useful method of tracking the success of multiple ad channels used in the same ad campaign.

These are just a few examples of effective ad tracking methods you can start using right now. The best type of tracking for your business of course depends on how you market your products and services. If you rely heavily on email marketing, tracking pixels help you collect data about open and click-through rates.

If you advertise across multiple sites using the Google Ads platform, you’re going to need to understand how cookies work, how to collect them, and the types of cookies available for analysis. If Facebook advertising is a large part of your digital marketing spends, you should take full advantage of the tracking capabilities Facebook offers to ensure you are getting an acceptable return on your investment.

Is Ad Tracking Illegal?

Invasion of privacy is one of the biggest criticism advanced against ad tracking. This leads us to examine the legality of ad tracking.

Unfortunately, the legality continues to be a grey area. While there were no legal regulations around ad tracking for a long time, currently, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation offers some protection to the users. According to GDPR, websites must obtain the consent of users to collect any personal data, which includes any information that discloses your location, economic, social, or cultural identity. Any website that serves ads to visitors has to explicitly get you to agree to the use of third-party cookies as part of their compliance with GDPR. However, a vast majority of users do not read through the terms and conditions carefully and end up opting in. Given the massive amount of data processed through ad tracking tools, regulators find it incredibly challenging to find out whether the tracking has been done in compliance with the legal requirements.

In the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act gives the users the right to request deletion of their personal data tracked through such ad tracking tools and also puts an onus on the companies to let the consumers know about potential data breaches. However, unlike GDPR, ad tracking tools don’t have to obtain the consent of the users before tracking them. Unless someone chooses to opt-out, ad tracking tools can track them and collect data by default without falling foul of the law.

Why ad tracking is an excellent business move?

Think about it in simple terms — what’s the point of spending an astronomical sum of money on ads if you are unsure whether those ads work for your target audience?

Bear in mind that all ads are designed to cater to user behavior. Ad tracking provides you with a realistic tool to verify your ROI and learn whether the ads you are publishing are successful in generating the leads you desire.

For instance, let’s say you are advertising various nutritional supplements that promise better skin, nail, and hair health. When you use ad tracking, you discover that ads for skin supplements resonate the most with your audience. This information is powerful because it tells you exactly what your target audience is interested in. You can not only deliver them a better experience when they visit your website or check out your social media accounts, but also retarget them successfully. Since you already know that they have interacted with ads for skin supplements, there’s no guesswork involved in luring them into purchasing the products. You can directly nudge them in the right direction.

Over time, ad tracking allows you to allocate resources more judiciously and ensure the higher growth of your business. Without tracking, the chances are that you may be spending money on failed advertising strategies that will not send a single lead your way.

Moreover, once you find out what clicks with your audience, it becomes incredibly easy to serve them with the right ads that nudge them towards conversion. Your business gains as you notice a higher volume of sales, better quality leads, and more conversions, increasing the overall profitability. Tracking conversions also results in higher conversions. You can use smart bidding strategies to optimize your ad campaigns in line with your business goals. Serving optimized ads to the target audience is ideal for getting more conversions.

Common Ad Tracking Mistakes That You May Be Making

Despite the world of benefits ad tracking offers, it is easy for marketers to commit these common mistakes that prevent them from taking optimum advantage of the tool. Here are some to watch out for:

Including your internal sessions: Always double-check that your IP address is not part of the data you are trying to track. Otherwise, you will see an inflated number of visitors whereas, in reality, it would be your own visits that will get recorded.

Forgetting to track conversions: The ultimate benefit of ad tracking is to evaluate crucial metrics that provide key insights into your audience’s behavior on your site and how they interact with your ads. But not tracking the conversion data can make the entire exercise futile and even impact your future campaigns.

Have a ‘set it and forget it’ mindset: If you want your ad tracking efforts to yield sustainable results, analyzing the results on a consistent basis is a must. Look at the key metrics to make suitable adjustments to your ad tracking methods. The data you get through ad tracking is valuable — so it is best to not look at it as a one-and-done exercise.

Not filtering ghost spam: Looking at unfiltered analytics data that doesn’t filter out fake visit inputs can seriously impact your advertising efforts. These fake visits do not interact with your website at all but give you the impression that you are receiving traffic. Most marketers end up considering such fake traffic as a genuine interest in the website and keep serving them with ads. It is extremely important to put essential filters to ensure that you only receive the real data.

Missing annotations: Annotations refer to custom text that you can input for specific dates. Annotations are helpful as they make it easier for you to find out what happened on a particular date. Missing adding annotation means that you will have to continuously guess what happened on that day in case you notice a sudden spike in traffic. Such information can be especially useful when you are comparing data from ads between different time periods.

9 Ad Tracking Tools Every Marketer Needs

Ad tracking is no child’s play. Unless you are utilizing the right tools available in the market, the chances are that your results may be insufficient to help you make any sustainable changes to your digital marketing efforts and understand how effective your ad campaigns are. So here are some must-have tools that can help you get the most out of your tracking exercise:

1. Everflow

EverflowSource: apps.shopify.com/everflow

Everflow is a top choice for marketers around as it offers a set of extensive features and also comes with a fantastic UI. All you need to do is set up an Everflow account and directly start tracking. Most users find Everflow to be one of the most cost-effective tools that offer automation and actionable insights. The targeting capabilities are extremely granular and you can bring it down to examine only that type of traffic that complements the products you offer. Additionally, Everflow also offers other functionalities such as blocking traffic due to duplicate clicks or proxy servers.

2. Linktracker

Linktracker Source: linktrackr.com

Linktrackr is an ad tracking software that can help you track conversions and sales from your ads. Everything gets saved on the cloud so that you can access the data at any time. You can even generate graphical reports using this tool. However, the only drawback is that it doesn’t support any scheduling of ad tracking.

3. Ad Trackz Gold

Ad Trackz Gold Source: adtrackzgold.com

Even though this is a paid tool, Ad Trackz Gold does stand out as a phenomenal tool, thanks to the functionalities it offers for tracking links, action, sales, and click. Even though you can’t schedule any tracking activities, you can shorten, customize, and split test links. You can also run campaigns during your free trial.

4. Voluum

Voluum Source: rigorousthemes.com

Voluum is a marketing platform that can track all your advertising campaigns and offer actionable insights to optimize them. The monitoring happens in real-time and allows you to look at about 30 metrics for each click and conversion. You can easily locate the most engagement-worthy ads that click with your audience. Volumm also allows you to integrate every traffic source and manage your affiliate marketing campaigns straight from the same platform.

5. AdEspresso

AdEspresso Source: adespresso.com

Most marketers use this tool to work primarily with Facebook and use it to create and track ad campaigns on other social media platforms. You can use Facebook Pixel tracking on this app to evaluate the performance of your ad campaigns and how many conversions take place through such ads. You can also link the ads to external URLs, which makes it easy to track the full funnel of conversion even when you are running several campaigns at the same time.

6. Bitly

Bitly Source: bitly.com

If you don’t have much room in your budget to spend on a full-fledged ad tracking tool, Bitly can come to your rescue. It is commonly usually used for shortening URLs. But it can also track the links and clicks. However, you will need to thoroughly analyze the data to understand how your ad campaign is performing. Inability to perform split testing is also a major drawback of Bitly.

7. AdMinder

AdMinder Source: adminder.com

This paid ad tracking tool can perform various actions, including tracking sales, clicks, downloads, subscribes, etc. You can also rely on it to get regular reports on CPC and ROI. While setting up a schedule, split testing, or link shortening are not supported by the tool, it is still worth a shot, even if you sign up for the free trial version alone.

8. Pretty Link Pro

Pretty Link Pro Source: prettylinks.com

This is a paid-only ad tracking tool. If you need conversion and click report, Pretty Link Pro is what you need. It functions through a WordPress Plugin and can perform some basic split testing, campaign set-up, and link shortening activities.

9. Tapfiliate

Tapfiliate Source: getapp.com

This is a comprehensive cloud-based affiliate tracking software that marketers can use for crate and analyzing affiliate programs. It offers over 30+ integrations, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Stripe, and many more. You can also custom-brand affiliate pages, referral links, and emails and launch a global campaign.

Start Reaping the Benefits of Ad Tracking for Your Next Marketing Campaign

Ad tracking can provide several fantastic benefits for your next marketing campaign, no matter how many channels you intend to implement. Ad tracking will help you get to know your audience better, help you serve their needs and interests more accurately, and help you stretch every marketing dollar to maximum return on your investment.

Modern digital marketing requires ongoing effort. You cannot expect the same strategies that worked last year or two years ago to work just as well next year. It’s essential to have an ad tracking system in place so you can chart your progress over time, respond to market shifts and changing customer habits, and ultimately provide your audience with higher-quality interactions with your brand.

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    Stephen Moyers

    4 thoughts on “What is Ad Tracking? How to Get Started With Ad Tracking”

    1. Thanks for sharing all the useful site links provided here.

    2. correctdigital says:

      The immediate benefits of ad tracking are pretty clear. They allow you to understand the performance of your ad campaigns.

    3. Ad tracking assists you understand your audience. The purpose of ad tracking is generally to provide a measure of the combined effect of the media weight or spending level, the effectiveness of the media buy or targeting, and the quality of the advertising executions or creative.

    4. rachna soni says:

      I really enjoyed reading this. Its amazing

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