URL Tagging on Facebook: Tracking Ads with Google Analytics

Using URL Tagging to Track Facebook Ads 

Did you know that you can tag your Facebook Ads with a URL tag that will send information back to Google Analytics? Because you can.

As if the conversion tracking pixel didn’t already offer enough great insight, Facebook and Google have made sure that you can get reports from Google Analytics on your Facebook Ads, too.

This is going to open up conversion tracking to another level, helping you measure the effect of your ads on your business more effectively than ever.

Sound good? Then let’s get started.

What is Google Analytics?

In our blog post discussing the 4 best tools to track your ROI on your Facebook Ads, Google Analytics ranks in at number 2.

track Facebook Ads URL tagging

For those unfamiliar with Google Analytics, it’s one of the best tools available for collecting data about your online presence, and not just on Facebook—it can tell you everything you need to know about your website and its visitors, too.

Not only can Google Analytics tell you a great deal about where your traffic is coming from (which is crucial to determining how to get more of it), it can give you insight into information like how long they stay on your page, and what your most visited pages are.

Google Analytics URL tagging

We use Google Analytics, and as part of the content marketing team, I monitor it weekly if not daily. Having the ability to add Google Analytics’ information to monitor your Facebook Ads on top of Facebook’s reporting system is incredible.

What Are Google URL Tags?

We know what URLs are. URL tags are added on to the end of a URL that enables you to track what happens on the page, like measuring clicks on a link in a concept similar to Facebook’s conversion tracking pixel. These specific URL tags are designed to send this information to Google Analytics.

This helps you see what yours users are clicking on, as well as where they’re coming from, like if they click to your site from an Ad, your Page, or somewhere else. Understanding where your traffic is coming from can help you bring more in. It’s incredible valuable insight.

The URL tags that everyone’s talking about right now (and the ones we’re obviously talking about right now) are for Google Analytics. You can actually create unique URL tags (for each individual promoted post, for example) quickly and easily. Google actually recommends even setting up an individual URL for each status update or wall post you use when promoting a single link to Facebook.

How to Build URL Tags for Facebook

To make these URL tags, all you have to do is click here and enter in some quick information.

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After entering in the information (some of which is required to build the URL and some of which is recommended to help you keep them straight), all of which will be used later to give you more information, you just have to install it.

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You add these tags to your landing page that the ads will send your users to. For a great step by step guide on how to do this, click here.

Keep in mind that Google Analytics is case sensitive, so as it reminds you on Facebook’s site, “utm_source=facebook is different from utm_source=Facebook” and the two are not synonymous.

Once you’ve created your URL, copy the URL and type it into your browser’s window; it should take you right to your landing page. Then, from, Google Analytics, you’ll go to “Traffic Sources” to “Sources” to “Campaign.” At this point, you should see that click you just made identified with your chosen name.

Why You See General Facebook Referrals Instead of Specific Ones with URL Tagging 

In a lot of cases, something we’ve seen a lot of people asking about is why, after an ad campaign (one that has utilized URL tagging), advertisers see a jump in general referral traffic from Facebook, but not the specific campaign. While this could indicate that your ad isn’t working as well as you’d like, there’s likely another explanation.

url tagging on Facebook, google analytics

Sometimes this happens if your ad, like a Promoted Post, features an image that users can go to first, and then they click on the link to your site from the picture.

Though the ad did start the process to send them there (with only a picture in between), Google Analytics will only register where the actual click came from, which wasn’t technically from your ad itself.

If you start a new campaign with a clickable image and see a huge surge in generic Facebook referral traffic but not your campaign, you could assume that at least some of it was coming from your ad.

Measuring How Shareable Your Posts Are with Facebook URL Tagging

Thanks to a recent article by Jon Loomer, we now know how to use the url tags to evaluate shares on our posts and ads.

When Loomer recently ran a campaign and evaluated the clicks on the ad on both Facebook’s ads reporting tool and on Google Analytics, there was a discrepancy of over 1500 clicks, with Google Analytics coming in with the higher number. Why?

He figured out that the discrepancy was caused due to sharing. Specifically, Facebook reported in the number of clicks on Loomer’s actual ad, while Google Analytics tracked the clicks on his ad plus the clicks on the shares of his ad.

He was able to determine that his ad was shared over 1500 times, and thus can use this information to evaluate how shareable his future posts and campaigns are.

Utilizing URL tagging combined with Facebook’s reporting tool can help you determine how viral your content was. Definitely a nice addition to the arsenal of information Google Analytics provides for us. To read the full article explaining his findings (which you should), click here.

What This Means

Using Google Analytics not just for your site, but for each individual Facebook campaign, offers unbelievable new potential insight into your campaigns.

More than ever before, you can see just how the money you’ve spent on Facebook is helping to build your business, and can give you insight into which campaigns truly do convert the best and how to improve the rest.

While some people won’t want to go through the trouble of creating tags for each and every campaign, it’s a good idea to at least test them out, especially when testing ads, to see what’s working and what’s being shared. After all, it only takes a few minutes to create and use url tagging on Facebook. What have you got to lose?


What do you think of the Google Analytics URL Tags for Facebook Ads? Is this a feature you plan on using? Leave us a comment and let us know!