Search Campaign Implementation Guide

Organizations can collect data from Paid Search campaigns through one of two methods: by including the Salesforce Audience Studio Media Tags into your search ads, or by utilizing UTM parameters in the click-through URLs that lead to your web site (where you have an Audience Studio Control Tag on the page). Salesforce recommends using the Meda Tags whenever possible, but this article will describe the general process for both methods. It will also review the specific steps involved for Paid Search campaigns in both Google Ads (formerly knows as AdWords) and Bing Ads.

Data Collection Methods

Audience Studio collects data through a variety of methods: Audience Studio tags in ads or on websites, through APIs and server-to-server integrations, and through logs or data files. With each method, Audience Studio collects the data at the user level, and when the data is ingested into the platform, it is reconciled and stored at the user level. In other words, when Audience Studio collects campaign data into the platform, it isn't collecting the number of ad impressions served for a given campaign, but rather the number of impressions served to a particular browser or device.

With Paid Search campaigns, the two main methods for campaign data collection are Audience Studio Media Tags in the ads, and through the Audience Studio Control Tag on the landing page when UTM parameters are included in the landing page URL. Audience Studio doesn't collect data through the use of APIs or log files simply because the Paid Search ad platforms, such as Google Ads and Bing, don't currently provide the data at the user level.

Audience Studio Media Tags

The Audience Studio Media Tags are used to capture campaign data from media campaigns. Typically, this involves trafficking an impression tag to capture the delivery of the ad, and a click tracker to capture people clicking on the ad. The impression tag can either be a JavaScript version of the tag or a static pixel version. Whenever possible, Salesforce recommends using the JavaScript version of the impression tag because it allows for user matching as well. In either case, what happens is the impression pixel ends up as an image call from the ad, where the request contains campaign information in the URL for the Salesforce Audience Studio servers.

Typically, the creative used in a Paid Search campaign is a text ad, which means you can't include the Audience Studio impression tag. If you did, you would just see the URL of the impression tag in the ad itself, and no data would be collected since the image call would never be made to the Audience Studio servers. In text ads, however, you can include the Audience Studio Click Tracker in any links in the ad. With the Click Tracker, anytime anyone clicks on the ad, the campaign information will then be collected. If the ad creative for your campaign includes images, it may be possible to include the Audience Studio impression tag in the ads. Check with the company serving the ads to see whether or not this could be done.

If you are including additional click trackers in the ad, please test that the URLs are encoded properly, and the ads still click through to the landing page as expected. Most click trackers. including the Audience Studio Click Tracker, decode the click-through URL passed in to tracker before redirecting to that URL. So when you are daisy-chaining click trackers together, you want to make sure the URLs are encoded as many times as needed.

UTM Parameters and the Audience Studio Control Tag

It is also possible to collect the campaign data when the user lands on your website as well, using UTM parameters. In this scenario, the campaign information is added in to the URL of the landing page, which needs to have an Audience Studio Control Tag included in the page. The Control Tag is part of the Audience Studio tag management system, SuperTag, and it can watch for when UTM parameters are available in the URL of the page. When it sees the parameters, it can either collect the data as site visit data or it can collect it as media data using the Click Tracker. Which one is used will impact how the data is seen and reported upon in the Audience Studio console.

If you decide to have the data collected as site visit data, the data won't be seen as media campaign data, and it won't be included in things like the Campaign Performance reports. In this scenario, the data will be collected as page attributes for the "Site" the Audience Studio Control Tag is configured for. You would still be able to create segments off of this data in the Segment Builder, but the attributes would be listed with your web site and not in the Media Attributes folder.

If you have the data collected as media data using the Click Tracker, then the data will be seen as media campaign click data, and will in included in the campaign reports like Campaign Performance. The data will also be part of the Media Attributes in the Segment Builder as well. However, to collect this data,Audience Studio will be firing a click tracking tag from the landing page. It won't effect the user experience, but it does mean one more tag firing from the web page. It also means that the data will only be collected as clicks, and not as impressions, since to collect the impression data too would require firing a second tag.

Which version you use is up to you. To implement it, you would need to make certain the landing page includes the Audience Studio Control Tag, update the URLs of your Paid Search campaigns with the appropriate information, and have your Audience Studio client services team update your data collection tags as well. If you haven't deployed the Control Tag on every page of your site, you can deploy it on the landing pages that you use with your Paid Search campaigns by following the steps in the Control Tag Implementation Guide.

Google Ads is Google's online advertising program, and the network of sites where those ads can be displayed is called the Google Network. The Google Network is broken down into two component networks: the Search Network and the Google Display Network (GDN). The Search Network consists of the search results pages on, as well as search results pages for partner sites. Paid Search campaigns run in Google Ads are typically run on the Search Network, and involve text ads. For this reason, this section focuses on Search Network campaigns.

Getting the Click Tracker

The Audience Studio Click Tracker is available through the console. To get the Click Tracker, log in to the Console and click Sites from under the Manage main menu. In the Manage Sites screen, find the Site that is associated with your Paid Search media campaigns. It is important to find the correct Site, since that's how Audience Studio will know that the data being collected is from a Paid Search campaign. When you have the correct Site, click on the Get Code button ( ) for that row on the right hand side of the screen. You will then be given a screen which lets you configure the Media Tag. Select AdWords as the Ad Server, and uncheck any fields you don't want to include in the Click Tracker. Click on the Get Code button, and you'll be shown the Click Tracker. From that screen you can either copy the code to the clipboard, or download a CSV file with the click tracker in it.

When you choose AdWords as the Ad Server, some of the values in the Click Tracker are replaced by ValueTrack parameters. If a comparable ValueTrack parameter wasn't available, there will be a string in the field that starts with <REPLACE. You must replace those strings with a value that you want collected instead. If you don't want to use any of the suggested ValueTrack parameters, you can either replace them with a different ValueTrack parameter or use a hard-coded value instead. It is important that any values that you include in the Click Tracker are encoded properly for a URL. Audience Studio also expects the values to contain alphanumeric characters. If there are non-alphanumeric characters in the value, Audience Studio may not collect the data.

If you keep all of the fields in the Click Tracker, and choose AdWords as the Ad Server, the Click Tracker generated in the console will look like:{campaignid}&kxadvertiserid=<REPLACE_WITH_AN_ADVERTISER_ID>&kxplacementid={adgroupid}&kxadid={placement}&kxcreativeid={iv_creativeid}&kxsiteid={targetid}&clk=<REPLACE_VALUE>

The xxxxxx string is a placeholder for the Audience Studio Config ID for the Media Tag. The strings surrounded by {} brackets indicate a ValueTrack parameter. These strings would be replaced by Google Ads with an appropriate value when the ad was served. The last field in the Click Tracker is for the landing page URL. You need to replace the <REPLACE_VALUE> placeholder associated with the clk= key with either the appropriate ValueTrack parameter for the landing page URL or an encoded URL.

URL Options

Google Ads supports tracking information being passed to other systems by setting up the tracking in URL Options. There are two components to the URL Options: the Tracking template and the Final URL suffix. When an ad is clicked on, the Tracking template is combined with the URL you enter into the "Final URL" field for the ad. The information in the Final URL suffix, on the other hand, is appended to the end of the URL entered for the "Final URL" field. So if you are collecting the campaign data with the Audience Studio Click Tracker, you want to include it in the Tracking template. If you are collecting the data using the Audience Studio Control Tag on the landing page, then you want to include the appropriate UTM parameters in the Final URL suffix instead.

The URL Options can be applied at the account, campaign, ad group, ad, keyword or sitelink level. If you have multiple URL Options that could apply to an ad, the URL Options that would be used are the ones at the most specific level. So if you have a tracking template set up at both the account level and the campaign level, the template at the campaign level would be used for all of the ads in that campaign. The order of levels from the most specific to the least is keyword, ad, ad group, campaign, and then account. It is also helpful to know that if you make changes to the tracking at the ad, keyword, or sitelink level, the ad will need to go through Google's approval process again.

Parallel tracking is a new feature that you might have enabled for your Google Ads account. When Parallel tracking is enabled, when a person clicks on your search ad, their browser is immediately directed to the landing page for the ad. The URL for that landing page URL would consist of the URL you entered in the Final URL field with any parameters from the Final URL suffix field appended to the end. With Parallel tracking, when an ad is clicked on, another process happens in the background where the information entered in the Tracking template field is used to handle the click tracking. The Audience Studio Click Tracker works in either scenario of having Parallel tracking enabled for your account or not.

The easiest way to deploy the Audience Studio Click Tracker is to do so as a Tracking template at the account level. In the older version of the Google Ads UI, you do this by clicking on "Shared library" option in the Page menu, and then clicking on "URL options" in the Shared Library sub-menu. Then click the "Edit" link in the main screen, and a field will be provided for the Tracking template. Paste the Audience Studio Click Tracker into the field, and click the Test button to make sure it functions as you expect it to. If it passes the test, click the Save button to add the template at the account level. This template will then be applied to every ad in your Google Ads account.

In the newest version of the Google Ads UI, the Shared Library option is found under the Tools menu in the top menu bar. However, URL Options is not listed yet as part of the Shared Library options. Until this option appears, you can set it up by clicking on the "Return to Previous AdWords" link at the top of the Tools menu to use the older UI. When you're done, you can return to using the newest version of the Google Ads UI by clicking on the "Get more done. Try the faster AdWords." link at the top of the Settings menu.

It is also possible to create and use custom parameters with tracking templates at the Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword or Ad level. Please see Google's Help Center article for more information on Custom Parameters.

Collecting through the Audience Studio Control Tag

If it is difficult to collect the search campaign data using the Audience Studio Click Tracker, it can still be collected by the Audience Studio Control Tag on the landing page when the user clicks through the ad. In this scenario, the campaign data must be made available as UTM parameters in the landing page URL. Audience Studio can parse the URL, and when the UTM parameters are found in the URL, it can collect that campaign data as well.

When data is collected by the Control Tag, it is normally collected as website data and is associated with the Site Conf ID that is set up in Audience Studio. You can collect the campaign data as site data using this standard setup. However, if the data is collected this way, the campaign data will not be seen as media campaign data, and won't be included in things like the campaign performance reports, or seen as media attributes in the Segment Builder. If you want the data collected as media campaign data, then Audience Studio can be configured to fire the Click Tracker when UTM parameters are seen in the URL. When set up like this, the Click Tracker will fire from the landing page, but as a background process so the user experience won't change at all. When using the Click Tracker, the data is collected as media campaign click data, and will be seen in the campaign performance reports and as media attributes. In either scenario, you should work with your Audience Studio Customer Success team to get the data collection mechanism setup with the Control Tag.

You will also need to include the UTM parameters in the landing page URLs of your ads. The keys Audience Studio typically uses for UTM parameters are:

  • utm_config
  • utm_campaign
  • utm_source
  • utm_advertiserid
  • utm_placementid
  • utm_adid
  • utm_creativeid

However, you don't have to include all of these parameters, if you don't want to. The only informtion that is absolutely required is the Audience Studio Config ID that the data should be collected with, and the campaign information. These UTM parameters are also somewhat custom to Audience Studio. The only standard UTM parameters from this list are utm_source and utm_campaign.

Google Ads has a feature called auto-tagging, which is related to UTM parameters. When an account is configured to use auto-targging, Google automatically adds a "Google Click Identifier" (or gclid) as a parameter to the landing page URL. Google associates the gclid with all of the standard UTM parameter information that is associated with the ad the click was on - and can then use this data in both Google Ads and Google Analytics. However, Google does not give any external platforms access to the gclid to UTM parameter mapping information, which means that if you want external platforms to use UTM parameters, they still need to included and visible in the landing page URLs even if auto-tagging is configured for the account.

With Google Ads, the way to include UTM parameters in the landing page URL is to use Custom Parameters. You can create custom parameterds at any level except for the account level in Google Ads, and the values you use can either be hard-coded or ValueTrack parameters to have Google dynamically insert information instead. Whatever values you use, the strings need to be properly URL encoded.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Google introduced Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to allow advertisers to customize their search campaigns to people who have visited their site or app before. With RLSA, you create an audience list within Google Ads, and then Google manages who is on that list through the use of Google tags. Audience Studio supports RLSA by delivering those Google tags through the Salesforce tag management system, SuperTag.

While Audience Studio can deliver audiences to Google Ads, these audiences can not be used with Search campaigns. The reason is because Google actually uses two different cookies when identifying browsers. One cookie they use with most of their advertising platforms, and it is this cookie that Google user matches with all external platforms, including Audience Studio. The second cookie is the one that Google uses with Search campaigns, and Google doesn't user match this cookie with any external platforms. When Audience Studio delivers an audience to Google, the audience list contains the Google User IDs that would be used in the first cookie, so they can't be used to target the Search campaigns that use different IDs that are set in that second cookie. Instead what Audience Studio can do is help build the remarketing list in Google by firing the appropriate Google tags through SuperTag. This then allows Google to set that second cookie as needed to target a Google Ads Search campaign.

Google has made some changes to the tags it uses with remarketing lists. There used to be a remareketing tag that had to be deployed specifically for RLSA, but the latest setup uses the global Google site tag with event tags instead. SuperTag supports all of the various ways that you can deploy the required Google tags. To use SuperTag, your account needs to have access to the product. You can check if you have access by logging in to the Audience Studio console. If you see SuperTag listed under the main Manage menu, then you have access to the tag management system. There is a user guide for SuperTag here, but for help with the deployment of the correct Google tags, please contact your Salesforce Customer Service team.

Bing Ads

Bing supports advertising in its search network, which include the search results pages from Bing, AOL, and Yahoo as well as syndicated partner sites (like There are a variety of ad types that are supported, including Expanded Text Ads, Dynamic Search Ads, Product Ads, and Microsoft Audience Ads. The ad creative associated with these ad types are mainly text creatives, and you can not use the Audience Studio impression tag in a text ad. To collect campaign data from Bing, you can use either the Audience Studio Click Tracker, or UTM parameters with the Audience Studio Control Tag.

If you need help getting the Audience Studio Click Tracker, please see the instructions in the Google Ads section. Once you have the Click Tracker, you can add it to a Bing Ads campaign by using a Tracking Template. You can add Tracking Templates at the account, campaign, ad grouo, ad, keyword or sitelink extension level.

You can also add UTM parameters to the landing page URLs, much the same way you can in Google Ads. With Bing, you would follow the instructions for Final URL Tracking. You can also use Custom Parameters, or set auto-tagging on for the account. If you use the auto-tagging feature, the only UTM parameters that Audience Studio would use are utm_campaign and utm_source.

Validating Your Implementation

For help testing and validating your implementation of an Audience Studio Click Tracker, please see the Media Tag Validation help article.

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