It’s as true in advertising as it is in life: to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. Higher ROAS is the result of careful analysis and optimization. But you can’t even begin the process without a way to measure your failures and successes. That’s where banner ad tracking comes in.
What is banner ad tracking?
Banner ad tracking refers to methods of measuring the success of banner ads, the long rectangular ad format that appears like a banner across a web page. Here’s an example of a banner ad from Sprint.
There are a few popular ways to track banner ads across platforms and channels, including pixels, tracking links, and cookies. The goal of banner ad tracking is to understand your campaign better so that you can improve your banner ads to drive better ROAS.
- Pixels are small transparent images that can be placed in emails, on pages, on display ads, etc. When the pixel loads, it communicates to the analytics platform that the ad has been viewed. These help determine if someone has seen your ad and not clicked it.
- Tracking links have unique identifiers on the end of them to communicate with analytics platforms about your traffic: who they are, where they come from, and what they’re clicking on. UTM parameters make this easy to do.
- Cookies are files stored in a browser that contain information about the user: location, behavior, preferences, language, and more. These can be used to track visitors only when the visitor has given explicit permission to be tracked. However, Google has committed to ridding Chrome of third-party cookies, which will greatly impact the effectiveness of this type of tracking.
Tracking banner ads with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the most widely used platform for tracking online marketing metrics, and fortunately, it makes tracking your banner ads easy. By “tagging” your landing page URL With UTM parameters, you can see in your analytics dashboard which banner ads are most successful. It works like this:
You determine the medium, source, type of ad you want to track, etc., and you can easily create a “tag” (a string of unique identifiers) that goes onto the end of your URL. This tag is processed in Google Analytics, which sorts traffic based on the unique identifiers.
There are five tags you can use to create a string of unique identifiers for your banner ads:
- Source: The website your ad is running on.
- Medium: Display, email, social, etc.
- Content: How you differentiate your ads: size, static vs. animated, etc.
- Campaign: The name of your campaign, like “ebook promo” or “holiday sale.”
- Term: Keyword terms if you’re running search ads.
Here’s an example of a tagged URL from RyanAir:
Here, we can tell by the URL that the source is “CRM,” the medium is “email,” and the campaign is “email,” plus some identifying info tacked on.
Google even gives you a tool to build these easily, called “Campaign URL Builder.”
Just type in the details of your campaign, and Google will generate a link that you can use to track your banner ads. As they attract more visitors, you can see traffic sorted in Google Analytics under “Reporting” > “Acquisition” > “All Campaigns.”
How does Instapage enable better tracking?
Banner ads represent only one-half of the advertising campaign. The other half, a post-click landing page, must be personalized to the visitor who clicks through. This results in maximum relevance and ROAS. Typically, though, this doesn’t happen.
The reason why is that personalization is difficult to achieve at scale. So, visitors are funneled to generic landing pages with broadly targeted content. Even if advertisers use UTM parameters to track their links, they’re tracking the information from a half-optimized campaign.
In Instapage, though, UTM parameters can do more than just track audience segments. They can also help serve personalized experiences. And creating them is as easy as it is with Google URL Builder:
Once you fill in your campaign details, you can create a landing page experience for the audiences that match your UTM parameters. So, if you have two banner ads running on a particular website with different content, you can direct visitors to unique landing pages that reflect those targeting factors. When you’ve set up an experience for your parameters, Instapage will generate a URL that you can use for your campaigns:
Just like with Google URL Builder, this URL will be tracked in Google Analytics. But instead of a half-optimized campaign, the data will reflect a campaign that’s been personalized from end to end. Find out more here.
Get the most from your banner ads
To generate maximum ROAS, you need to use banner ad tracking to determine your campaign’s flaws and successes. But you also need to make sure your banner ad is directing visitors to a personalized post-click experience. Without one for each audience segment, your pages won’t be relevant enough to convert as many visitors as possible.
Find out more about how you can create personalized experiences with UTM parameters in a complimentary enterprise demo.