What Is UTM tagging in Google Ads

January 5, 2023

What Is UTM tagging in Google Ads | AIA Book in a free 30 minute strategy session

If you use Google Ads for your marketing campaigns, you already know that the platform provides a wide range of tools that can help you track the activity on your website. One of the most efficient tools to include in your Google Ads strategy is the use of UTM parameters in your hyperlinks.

We will further discuss the differences between auto-tagging and manual tagging, how and when to use them, and how they compare to other tools, like Gclid.

You might also be interested in HOW TO GET ALL YOUR AD DATA INTO GOOGLE ANALYTICS?

What Are UTMs?

Urchin Tracking Module parameters, or UTMs, are tags that you can add to a hyperlink in order to track information related to your traffic. They can give you valuable insights into the source of the traffic, as well as other types of analytics data.

One of the main and most effective ways of using UTMs is when you want to evaluate the performance of a marketing campaign. Usually, you would test two or more ads to see which one performs better. UTMs will tell you exactly what you need to know.

How to Add UTMs in Google Ads

Google Analytics makes your job easier when it comes to adding tracking parameters to your links, by integrating an URL builder in the platform. By simply filling up a form in your Google Ads account, you can easily get trackable data from your links.

Here are the features you should pay attention to:

  • Campaign Source: this parameter tells you where the traffic originates from (a search engine, your email newsletter, etc.)
  • Campaign Medium: the medium can be Google CPC, email platform, social media, etc.
  • Campaign Term: keywords that help you identify the promotion or campaign (for example, “spring sale” or “young members”, “new members,” etc.
  • Campaign Content: when you have multiple links (ads) pointing to the same URL, this parameter helps you when A/B testing, for instance;
  • Campaign Name: name your campaign to make sure you will differentiate between your multiple campaigns when analysing data.

After filling up all the required data, the Google Ads URL builder will generate your URL and you can start comparing results from different links. Of these UTM parameters, the mandatory ones are UTM medium, source, and campaign. To these, you can add a lot of custom-made UTMs. For example, if you want to differentiate between your Search Campaigns and your Shopping Campaigns, a special UTM can do that for you.

Here is an example of an URL with added UTM parameters:


You can also use a third-party source to build your final URLs, with some allowing you to save your most used URL parameters and build URL templates for your future campaigns as well.

Another way to add UTMs to your links is by using Google Ads’ tracking templates, which inserts parameters automatically, saving you a lot of time.

What Is Auto-Tagging and When to Use It?

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can also enable the auto-tagging tools in Google Ads. This feature gives you automatically built links that provide more data than what you can retrieve with manually built UTM content. By auto-tagging automatically, your Google Ads data is easily comparable, as the UTM tags are named consistently.

The type of data that you will get in a data set collected through auto-tagging your links includes:

  • Hour of the day
  • Placement domain
  • Keyword position on Google Search
  • Display targeting
  • Video campaigns
  • Shopping campaigns
  • Search campaigns
  • Query match type
  • Ad group
  • Final URL
  • Ad format
  • Ad distribution network

Once you research UTM tags deeper, you will surely come across the term “GCLID” (Google Click Identifier). It is a parameter that belongs to Google Ads’ automatic process of link building. If you choose auto-tagging instead of manually tagging your URLs, Google Ads will pass the GCLID parameter at the end of your link, and all the retrieved data is encrypted. This means that you can only view it through Google Ads.

If your marketing toolbox contains several apps that you normally use to read and compare data, you might want to switch to manual UTM management, so that you’re not completely tied to Google Ads. But, if you want to reap the advantages from both sides, the tags URLs in your campaign can be added through a hybrid system.

When to Use Manual Tagging and When to Use Auto-Tagging?

If you need to export your data from Google Ads to other marketing tools that your company needs to use, auto-tagging might not be a good solution. Some third-party apps can break down the GCLID encrypted data, but others won’t. If your marketing analytics tools are Google Ads and Google Analytics, there is no reason not to automate your UTM tagging. Still, consider the future of your marketing campaigns and leave a window open to third party tools by learning a bit about manual tagging too.


UTM parameters are a great way to personalise the data retrieved by Google Ads and other marketing tools.

If you are ready to start your UTM campaign, start with simple tags and check how the retrieved data that can help you optimise your marketing results. Once you are familiar with the use of UTMs, they will prove to be regular tools when optimizing your website.

If you don’t have the time to learn the intricacies of UTM use and different tracking methods, you can ask for advice or full service from a trusted Google Ads Agency like ours, Australian Internet Advertising. If you are not sure if you even need UTM included in your reports, request a consultation with one of our AIA experts and together we will find out which products and services would suit your business best.

Billy P.

About The Author

William Polson founded Australian Internet Advertising in 2013 and has over 12 years of experience immersed in Digital Marketing.

With an in-depth level of digital marketing knowledge, William has been sort after by and worked for, many large national brands including Subaru, Blooms The Chemist, and Nova 96.9.

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