Tagging and pixels for a programmatic campaign

Successful campaigns begin with successful tracking. Successful tracking begins with tagging. Let’s develop a comprehensive tagging strategy for your site.

First, decide if you are going to use ad serving. To give a quick background on adserving, it was initially created to serve as an independent 3rd party source that would measure campaign metrics. Advertisers didn’t have to rely on pubisher reports exclusively. Fast forward to now and we have a bunch of different options for verifying campaign data. For example, ad verification tools and dashboards from your DSP that the client can log into.

However, many advertisers are still reluctant to drop adserving so more than likely you are still using it and it’s most likely DCM , Doubleclick campaign manager formerly known as DFA, doubleclick for advertisers. Other adserving technology includes Sizmek (formerly Mediamind), and Atlas now owned by Facebook (formerly of MSN).

To have any sort of successful campaign online, tracking is the most important element. Without this, you are wasting money. The key to tracking is a good tagging and pixeling strategy. If you don’t know what a good a pixeling and tagging strategy consists of, I suggest a meeting with your ad ops team. In a gist, it involves placing tags in the landing page, throughout the funnel, and the confirmation page.

Here is a quick infograph I created to show how a tagging and pixel strategy might look like.

Container tags and Pixel strategy

Notice how the ad serving container tag “holds” pixels. This is done for a variety of reasons including not having 20 different pixels on a page which could slow it down but also limits the amount of times a pixel has to be implemented. If you’re in an ad agency, you won’t have to bother the client’s webmaster all the time for pixel installation requests, it’s all managed from the adserver.

First step is to create container tags in your adserver. I’m not going to go into detail here, but suffice to say that DCM has a tutorial here on how to do it.

Next we create the pixels in the DSP. The easiest way to keep everything organized is to use some sort of naming convention by client, product, date, and placement. Using “New Campaign” or other generic term will get confusing really quickly and put’s you at risk of not installing the correct one.

Create Pixels on DSP

If we look at the name of the pixel above we see a HPG_NameofClient_29_Jan_2015.

Basically we know that this pixel should be implemented inside the tag on the homepage of the client’s site. An alternative step to do is to get the list of tags for the pages you want to pixel and use the same names so the webmaster knows exactly where to install.

Repeat this step for each page you want to pixel. In your campaigns, these pixels will be used for retargeting, tracking, and gathering other data that will contribute to the success of the campaign.

Side note before ending.

In my years on the agency side, I have come across more than a few clients that absolutely do not want pages tagged. The reasons involve everything from “it will slow down the site” to “I will get hacked if I install that on my site.” Suffice to say this is frustrating since not being able to pixel a site handicaps the campaign significantly, even if the only KPI’s being measured are branding oriented. Conversely there are advertisers that want their 700 page site pixeled for a campaign which will run for two weeks and involves a special which will end within those two weeks.

Can we please use common sense? At minimum any advertiser running a programmatic campaign should have tagged and pixeled; HOMEPAGE, LANDING PAGE, FUNNEL STEPS PAGES, and CONFIRMATION PAGE.