Tracking Ads: 7 Tips for Facebook & Google Paid Campaigns

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"That very first interaction sold me. With my data organized in an intelligent way, I could see very clearly what action I needed to take, and it didn’t take me drilling deep into reports to find it."

Ceci Dadisman, Director of Marketing, FlashHouse

"Thanks to Lumenad, it's made collaboration with my team faster and more effective, and it's reduced the number of hours I need to spend on different platforms to get the data I need."

Zak Kozuchowski, Founder, Rooted Solutions

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Steven London, co-founder, FlashHouse

"By using Lumenad, our team spent 50-70% less time on reporting, we were able to use that time to further enrich the campaigns and drive performance for our clients."

Ryan Rodgers, President, Embee Media

"The Lumenad software is allowing us to scale our business. We are on a growth trajectory, and we are confident to onboard new business because of Lumenad."

Alissa Menke, Owner & Chief Digital Strategist, Cohort Digital

"Lumenad allows me to be platform agnostic. By moving between DSPs I can drive the best performance possible for my clients, and the data flows seamlessly into Lumenad without interruption."

Michael Jung, VP of Product Management and Technology, Precision Reach

Tracking Ads

The technology behind digital marketing is complex. But having a cursory understanding of it is important for a digital marketer. One important thing people need to consider is the technology behind tracking ads and advertising tracking.

What is ad tracking?

Two examples you’ll run into frequently are Google Analytics conversion tracking and conversion tracking Facebook. Google paid ads and Facebook ads are two of the most robust advertising platforms today. But as you’ll see, they aren’t perfect — and they may become more complicated in the near future.

Let’s take a look at a simple Google ad. You run an ad through Google’s AdWords. It will be distributed on other sites — thousands of sites — that are part of Google’s AdSense program. But to determine which ads to run, Google doesn’t look just at the site. Google looks at the user.

When a user pulls up a Google Ad, the Google servers first look at who the user is. They use tracking cookies to see what users have been doing; what their interests are and who they are likely to be. This is often tied to a Google profile, which collects information including gender, age, and more.

Because these tracking cookies tell the ad server what this user is likely to be interested in, ads can be tailored to their experience. This is also what makes it possible to track the performance of ads, because you can also see which users clicked on your site, how long they stayed on your site, and whether they made a purchase.

But tracking ads does require collecting a lot of information from the user. And, as of recently, that has also become a fairly contentious point. Because of this, tracking ads may become a little more complex in the future.

Google Ads

In the Google Campaign Manager, you can setup Google Ads and update your Google Ads settings. Perhaps more relevantly, you can also look at your tracking ads campaign manager — you can take a look at who is viewing your ads, where they’re viewing your ads, and what they’re doing after they view your ads.

Google’s Analytics service is one of the most valuable because of the intense amount of information they are able to capture. Google Ads provides one of the broadest marketing platforms out there, with millions of sites to advertise on. They collect information about nearly every user on the web and are consequently able to yield specific insights about demographics.

Because nearly everyone uses Google’s web search, Google Ads can also be displayed on the search engine results page (as search ads). This can be just as effective as display ads, if not more so. If you want to advertise whenever a user has a search query, that’s what you want to pay for.

But Google Ads need to be trackable. Today’s marketers have to be able to see what is and isn’t working in their ad campaigns. To that end, Google Analytics provides robust solutions for data collection and data reporting. With Google Ads, companies can see their website’s performance through a myriad of performance metrics.

Google Ads Conversion Tracking

So, how does Google Ads support conversion tracking? Users need to be able to put code snippets on their website so they can keep up with tracking ads and buyers through their sales funnel. On Google’s end, Google uses cookies to track users from the initial click to the final commitment.

For WordPress and other CMS systems (such as eCommerce sites like Shopify), it’s often as easy as installing a plugin that comes with a DCTM tracker or DCM tracking tags built in.

Without the AdWords conversion tracking Google tag manager, you may see users clicking on your site, and you may see users making purchases, but you may not be able to connect the two. So, while you’ll have an educated guess that your sales are going up because your traffic is going up, you may not know where to attribute those sales.

Conversion tracking (and, in fact, the entire buyer’s journey) is important for the purposes of recording and optimization. You need to know how your campaign is performing to know whether to improve. You also need to know where buyers are falling off to know how to get them to commit. If they are falling off at the final page of a sale, for instance, it’s likely because the shipping costs were too high or because they found a better deal on the same product elsewhere.

Facebook Tracking

Facebook is another popular solution, but Facebook tracking is a little different. Facebook doesn’t advertise on other sites. It advertises on Facebook and Instagram. The methods Facebook uses are similar to other social media sites. Facebook allows you to promote your posts or run ads on the platform. You’re able to target specific audience demographics.

Unlike Google, Facebook gets the vast majority of its data not on the activity of unknown users but the activity of users who are signed into the site. Anyone with a Facebook account has also logged things like their age, interests, education, workplace, location, and more into their Facebook profile. So, the demographic information is sourced through Facebook itself rather than through third parties.

So, Facebook tracking is much easier than Google. Ad tracking Facebook comes from within the platform, with Facebook tracking user behaviors throughout the site that they are already logged into. Facebook conversion reporting can be achieved when users click on links, when users sign up for events, and more.

But what if you want to track conversion on your own website? That’s when you need the Facebook Pixel Code.

Facebook Pixel Code

Facebook has its own version of Google’s code snippets. If you want to track conversion through your website, you need the Facebook pixel code. Facebook pixel code places a single pixel on your website.

When a user clicks through to your website from Facebook, they will also be loading that single pixel. That single pixel will call out to the Facebook servers and tell them what users are doing on your website.

Through this, Facebook will be able to see their behaviors and identify what they are doing. If they convert, Facebook can report this as a conversion.

Facebook pixel tracking is used throughout the marketing industry. Commonly, email marketers use this. When an email marketer tells you how many “opens” you have for your emails, they’re using pixels or something similar. Otherwise, there’s no way to tell when someone has opened an email; this isn’t reported by the email platform itself.

Facebook’s pixel tracking is surprisingly low in technology and extremely effective, which is why it’s the technology that is most frequently used throughout the industry. But as with Google’s third-party cookies, it could be something that’s going away in the near future. There will need to be new advertising intelligence solutions used.

Limit Ad Tracking

There’s a problem with ad tracking. Largely, most consumers don’t like it.

Tracking ads is actually good for both businesses and consumers. For businesses, they save time and money targeting customers most likely to be interested in their products. For consumers, they see ads that are more relevant and interesting to them.

But many consumers find tracking ads to be an invasion of privacy. Consequently, they seek to limit ad tracking.

There will be an iOS limit ad tracking update for most people soon, which is going to make third-party cookies far rarer. Users will need to opt into the system rather than opting out of it. Likewise, Facebook iOS 14.5 tracking may become problematic because it involves tracking users through sites that Facebook itself does not own.

iOS, Android, and many other platforms are taking actions to reduce the amount of tracking that can be done on a per user basis. Which means marketers race going to find it much more difficult to track users, track their behaviors, and target them.

Google Ads is going to become difficult because they will need to advertise based on their location (the website being advertised on) rather than user (as they may not be allowed to track users anymore). But platforms such as Facebook or Twitter may actually become more useful for advertising. Apart from the Facebook pixel, Facebook largely relies on first-party information — information that the users have directly furnished to Facebook — for its advertising targeting. This is what makes the difference.

Ads Tool

Let’s say digital marketers want to make Google ad tracking easier. What are some ad tracking tools they can use? The Google Analytics ads tool is undoubtedly the most popular and the most common.

But the problem with Facebook tracking and Google Analytics is that they both only track their own platform. Today, a given marketer could have literally dozens of platforms through which they advertise. They need to have an analytics service that includes everything, rather than an analytics service that they have to manually check for information about a single platform.

There are also tools that track things based on other cookies or links. These are tools such as LinkTrackr, Bitly, and Ad Trackz. With these, you link the ads to a specific URL. That URL tracks when users click. And from there, you can track the users on your site. It requires a little integration, but it’s a very effective method.

If you use a consolidated platform, such as Lumenad, you can tailor your URLs with tracking codes and then track users based on their performance within your site. This is actually far more effective than relying upon a third-party advertising solution. This type of tracking won’t go away when third-party cookies go away and they won’t be subject to the enhanced privacy regulations impacting advertising campaigns.

Finding the right ads tool can be a challenge for a marketer. But it’s essential for any marketer who wants to perform well and who wants to be able to easily make decisions and optimize their campaigns. If you want to be able to track ads on Facebook, Google, and other platforms, it’s time to check out Lumenad.