Tracking Template vs Final URL Suffix

November 19, 2019

Personally, when I first began my digital marketing career, nothing confused me more than tracking. I quickly understood account structure, learned and developed marketing concepts, even built a couple web pages through WordPress. However, when it came to tracking, it took a bit longer for me to process. You can imagine the confusion that came with learning about tracking templates and URL suffixes since they are so similar. In this blog entry I will expand upon the definition of each and best practices in order to use both!

What’s the difference?

Ultimately, these are very similar in function: information appended at the end of the URL that allows for better tracking. However, if you are using a third-party tracker it is extremely important to know the difference.

With both a tracking template and a final URL suffix, you are able to better utilize a third party tracker alongside necessary tracking information for your website. Best practice is to: 

  1. Place third party tracker information within tracking templates 
  2. Any information your site absolutely needs to track should be in  in the final URL suffix.
  3. Any parameters that determine the content of the page should be in the final URL. 

This organization relates to parallel tracking and the best structure for the whole process to run properly (more on parallel tracking here).

Information that determines the content of the page is of utmost importance to the user experience whereas tracking doesn’t really affect the user experience at all, therefore information that determines the content of a page needs to be in the final URL to load the landing page as fast as possible. In that sense, this structure creates the best user experience possible.

What is a tracking template?

A tracking template allows you track the source of ad clicks and important information about it (device, network, keyword, etc.). The tracking template starts with {lpurl} which returns the final URL that you have set in the ad. This is then followed with a ‘?’ along with the name of parameters you would like to track. Multiple parameters can be tracked by separating them with ‘&’ between each parameter.

For example: {lpurl}?source={network}&device={device}&keyword={keyword}

Would return the final URL plus the source, device, and keyword that led to the click.

Note: You may need to use {unescapedlpurl} instead of {lpurl} if you’re using a third party tracker. More info on 3rd party trackers can be found here.

What is a final URL suffix?

A final URL suffix is very similar to a tracking template. A final URL suffix goes after the final URL and allows you to track the source of ad clicks and other information about it (device, campaign name, keyword, etc.).

For example: src=google&kwd={keyword}

Would be appended at the end of the final URL and return the source as google, along with the keyword that led to the click.

Note: You would not need to add a ‘?’ or ‘&’ before the first parameter. Google Ads will include this automatically!
This isn’t necessarily the most fun topic to discuss; tracking templates and final URL suffixes won’t drastically improve your marketing campaigns, but broken tracking will definitely ruin your data! Without accurate data to support your marketing efforts and learnings, you really are just shooting around in the dark – nobody wants to waste their time and money doing that. If you’re interested in learning more about data analytics, I highly encourage you to explore our analytics related blogs here.