How to Tag and Track Banner Ads in Google Analytics

January 14th, 2008

tagging ads for google analyticsGoogle Analytics does a great job of tracking where your site traffic comes from (also known as “referral sites”), but it doesn’t automatically drill down to what link or graphic it came from on a given page. This is particularly true if you have multiple links pointing to your site from one referral site page. Google Analytics lumps them together unless you do some advanced tagging.

What is advanced tagging in Google Analytics?
Google allows you to append tags to URLs that get picked up in your Google Analytics as a campaign, so you can see the results of traffic that each link brings into your site. I find this quite handy when trying to understand what elements on a site are actually bringing in traffic and, more importantly, what ads bring conversions (sign ups or sales). I can later use this tracking intellect to determine which ad campaigns to keep running.

When would you use this tagging?
There are times you may have multiple ads within a referral site, some of which are paid (such as banner ads or paid listings) and some of which are free (such as free directory listings and links within blog or forum comments). I only ever tag the paid links.

The screenshot below shows where I advertise on I have a paid leaderboard ad at the top of the website (see #1), as well as a paid smaller ad mid page (see #2). These two ads are rotated from a pool of ads and the pages they get placed on can vary.

tagging ads

So technically, if I received traffic from both of these paid ads from the same page, my analytics results would not tell me which banner it was from – unless I do the advanced tagging, that is. I would not know which one is really more effective for my website conversions either.

How to tag banner ads to show up in Google Analytics

I like to use Google’s URL builder – it’s a great tool. Don’t think that you must use all six fields in the URL Builder form in each of your links, however – just use the ones you really need. Most times, you’ll probably only need to use Source, Medium, and Name.

The table below shows how I tagged my banner ads:

campaign tagging samples

Google’s URL Builder generated my URLs for tracking of each banner and I gave the URLs to Website Magazine’s webmaster to link from my banners to our site:


Where to find your custom tagged campaigns in Google Analytics
You should start seeing traffic for each individual banner in your Google Analytics under Traffic Sources>Campaigns (usually after 24 hours once they are running).

camapigns in google analytics

And voila! Here is the traffic from my two banner ads broken out individually within my Google Analytics reports:

tagging ads

So now I know that our leaderboard ad brings in eight times more traffic than the smaller ad.

Another note: You can also use this tagging strategy for your email, Yahoo, and MSN Pay-per-click campaigns in order to see all campaigns individually in your Google Analytics results. But don’t worry about Google Adwords, as they are automatically tagged if you connect the accounts together!

Want to share your experiences or tips on campaign tracking for Google Analytics? Feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I have not covered all that it can do!

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10 Responses to “How to Tag and Track Banner Ads in Google Analytics”

  1. Kenji on August 3, 2011 3:28 pm

    This is a great tutorial, thanks for posting! Do you know if it’s possible to extend this tracking into a conversion? Ie. How can you tell if the ad actually led to a sale? Thanks!

  2. admin on August 3, 2011 5:32 pm

    Yes, of course! You can track any campaign to a sale if setup properly on your website and within Google Analytics.

    There’s two ways:

    Have your order processed / thank you page on your website setup as a goal in Google Analytics.

    Or better…

    Connect your online shopping cart with advanced ecommerce tracking – this way you will see if any campaign became an order as well as any data about the sale is sucked into Google Analytics (IE. the order number, products order and order total) If you do have an ecommerce site – this is highly recommended. Some platforms have modules that just need enabling and other ecommerce platforms needs custom coding. I have setup both scenerios many times.


  3. Sydney Tiles on July 26, 2012 4:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing ! =D

  4. internet marketing an hour a day on May 9, 2013 12:23 pm

    That turned out to be a good blog! I most certainly will certainly share it.
    …carry on the wonderful work!

  5. Girish on May 29, 2013 1:24 am

    nice posting.. helped me when i needed the clarity

  6. dan on October 8, 2014 4:48 am

    Thanks for this! much clearer than the google help links!

  7. Kelly Monaghan on November 3, 2014 9:40 am

    I can see that this method lets you know how many people reached your site from a particular banner ad.

    But how can you tell how many of those visits resulted in a sale?

  8. admin on November 3, 2014 10:40 am

    You can segment the traffic from that banner ad and see the revenue attributed to it if you have ecommerce tracking setup on your website. If you do have ecommece tracking you will see the exact revenue dollars and what transactions (order IDs) came through from it as well as what products. Very powerful.

  9. Jesse on June 18, 2015 6:09 pm

    How do you tag display banner ads running through DoubleClick Digital Marketing and have them show up in Google Analytics. I’m using UTM codes for the ads but I’m not seeing any traffic to our site when I search for banner as the medium? Is there a better way I can be tracking these?

  10. admin on June 19, 2015 3:25 am

    Hi Jesse

    Two things:
    1) If you are using utm tracking manually, make sure you have source, medium and campaign in the url. If one is missing, it may not appear in Google Analytics.

    2) OR….You can also check within DoubleClick if you have a way to enable auto tagging and you don’t have to do anything. If your banners are under a particular campaign name, it would automatically show up in Google Analytics. Google Adwords does that for you, and I am guessing that DoubleClick does now as well because it is owned by Google.

    Hope this helps,


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