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How To Track Your Ad Performance

You’ve set your ads up. They’re published. They’re running and bringing in traffic and/or leads.

Well done!

That’s the first part over. Now, you need to monitor their performance and utilise your marketing spend efficiently for a higher ROI. Turning on ads is easy, but bringing in a positive ROA is essential. Otherwise, you’re throwing good money after bad. And Meta and Google are making enough money without your support.

We’re going to show you how to track your ad so you can analyse the data that comes in, which will enable you to know which are working, and which to ditch.

How to Track ad performance (with URL parameters)

You can track your ads in minute detail by implementing URL parameters. These tags provide detailed information about the traffic source, campaign, ad information, etc, to enable a deeper understanding of the performance of your campaign.

Parameters typically include information about the source of traffic (like a search engine or newsletter), the medium (such as email or CPC), the specific campaign, and sometimes the terms or content associated with the ad.

Example:

Your online clothing business is running an advertising campaign for a summer sale. It will be fun through an email newsletter, Meta Ads, and a Google Ads campaign. To track the performance of each channel effectively, you can use UTM parameters in your URLs. Here’s an example for each channel:

Email Newsletter:

  • Original URL: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale
  • URL with UTM parameters: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023
  • Breakdown:
    • utm_source=newsletter: Identifies the source as your email newsletter.
    • utm_medium=email: Indicates that the medium is email.
    • utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023: Specifies the campaign name.

Meta Ad

  • Original URL: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale
  • URL with UTM parameters: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale?utm_source=meta&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023
  • Breakdown:
    • utm_source=Meta: The source of traffic is Meta.
    • utm_medium=cpc: Indicates cost-per-click (CPC) as the medium.
    • utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023: Names the specific campaign.

Google AdWords:

  • Original URL: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale
  • URL with UTM parameters: https://www.yourstore.com/summer-sale?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023&utm_term=summer+dresses
  • Breakdown:
    • utm_source=google: Traffic is coming from Google.
    • utm_medium=cpc: Medium is cost-per-click.
    • utm_campaign=summer_sale_2023: Campaign name.

This information is then tracked into analytics insight by software like GA4, giving you insight into which ads are driving traffic and conversions and which are not.

This approach is invaluable for optimising marketing strategies, as it provides real-time feedback on the effectiveness of your ads, enabling quick adjustments and more targeted marketing efforts.

You can view campaign performance in GA4 here:

a screenshot of where to find campaign reports in GA4
select session campaign

URL parameters are one way to measure your paid ad performance, but what about the others?

Metrics to check your ads are working (Meta)

❗Before you start – you need a Meta pixel on your website❗

If you haven’t installed yours, they have a how-to guide here. And, if you’re not sure if you have one on your site, you can use the Chrome plug Meta Pixel Helper, which will tell you if it can see a Meta pixel on your website and the ID number.

Using Meta’s in-house Ads dashboard, you can view all the data you’ll need to assess whether your ads are performing.

The key metrics we’d recommend analysing are:

  1. Click Through Rates (CTR)
  2. Conversion Rates
  3. Cost Per Clicks (CPC)
  4. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  5. Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)


You can customise and include all of this information in your dashboard automatically here:

Meta dashboard customise columns

You can also insert URL Parameters into your Meta ads to track performance using your own preferred analytics software. They have a marketing tool to help you build your URLs in advance:

https://business.facebook.com/business/google-analytics/build-your-url

And here’s where the parameters are included when building an ad:

You can insert your own format or let Meta aid you through the process and here’s what that looks like:

adding URL parameters in Meta

NEW to Meta Ads - Creative Fatigue:

New to Meta’s Ads dashboard is this alert for creative fatigue.

In the past, we would analyse data such as ‘Frequency’ and assess conversion vs frequency to calculate if audiences were tired of seeing the same ad. But now we don’t need to!

This new notification means we (and, more importantly, you) don’t have to analyse other data to calculate if the audience has creative fatigue. No more reading the tea leaves!

creative fatigue warning on Meta

Creative fatigue can lead to reduced frequency levels and lower CTRs. It’s a useful metric to track alongside the main KPIs, as it could contribute to ads that aren’t performing as well as they did.

If you want to analyse your ad frequency, it usually doesn’t appear within the default layout of the campaign overview table. So you need to add the column to your reporting dashboard:

One final metric relating to frequency that we’d suggest looking at is the behaviour of click-through rate over a period of time (say 30 days). If this is reducing and frequency is increasing, that’s a sign to refresh your creatives.

Note: Not all frequency figures are the same! You’ll need to asses them on a case-by-case basis. For example, retargeting campaigns can get away with higher frequency volumes, whereas the opposite is true for Prospecting campaigns.

Metrics to check your ads are working (Google Ads)

Google Ads’ in-house dashboard provides similar levels of granularity, and there are similar KPIs to analyse. We have written an article about the top 10 KPIs for measuring Google Ads Success.

As a reminder:

  1. Clicks
  2. Impressions
  3. CTR
  4. CPC
  5. Conversion Rate
  6. CPA
  7. Search Lost IS
  8. Quality Score
  9. Impression Share
  10. ROAS


And…. Quality Score

Quality score in the ‘ad relevance’ column is a good indicator of how Google perceives the quality of the ad, which will impact results such as CTR, Conversion and CPC.

There is a lot to monitor with Google Ads, but it’s a platform to monitor closely because if you run it poorly, you can throw your money down the drain quickly.

Building URL Parameters within your Google Ads isn’t typically necessary, although enabling auto-tagging is recommended. There is information on how to do that here. This is the best practice for tracking your Google Ads performance seamlessly through to GA4 if sync’d correctly.

Tools we recommend

We’re big fans of GA4. It’s free and tracks most of the websites live to date, so they have an incredible grasp of data. But here are some honourable mentions if you’d like to try alternative reporting:

  • Agency Analytics
  • Raven Tools

We’d also strongly recommend utilising Google Tag Manager in conjunction with your GA4 account.

Always Test Your Ads

Metrics help, there’s no doubt. They build and run a strong campaign. But it’s half of the battle, where A/B Testing is the other half.

You have an ad that’s running gang-busters. Well done. It has a conversion rate of 15%. You can’t believe it. Job done. Well, what if a different colour font on the ad increased that conversion to 20%? You don’t know until you TEST.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: Always be testing.

 

If any of this feels overwhelming. You’re not alone. If it were easy, digital marketing agencies like ours wouldn’t exist. And, if you’d like help understanding your site’s analytics and/or reporting, our digital marketing experts are happy to help. And why not sign up for a complimentary 45-minute strategy session – obligation-free.

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Growth in numbers translates to growth in business, learn about the digital marketing KPI’s that can dramatically boost your business trajectory.

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