Performance Tracking 101

Brief introduction to the basics of performance marketing tracking and media buying.


What is a URL and what are the different parts of a URL?

At the very least, you need to know what a URL is. Don't laugh. About 80% of our support requests are from users who do not know how to use and define a basic URL.

Image result for diagram of url parts

What's critical is that you understand the format of a Query String. This is the part of the URL where we pass information from one server to the next upon both redirecting and clicking.

Every offer will have some way to pass to it your tracking "click id" -- in Kintura URL fields you'll use the token {cid} somewhere in every offer url. That somewhere is in a Query String Parameter. Note the diagram above. The blue colored part of the url called parameter1 is a query string parameter. Your Affiliate Network Manager should be able to tell you what this should be. It will not be the text "parameter1" -- it will be something like s1, s2, clickid, sub1, sub2, tid, etc. It is different for every single network. Never assume, ever. Never assume anything about how your affiliate network tracks. Did you understand that part about never assuming? Great. Because it's always different and only your Affiliate Manager will know. If your Affiliate Manager does not know what a "Query String Parameter" is, they should not be an Affiliate Manager. They have one job and it's to know things like this.

What is a token? What is a macro?

Token and macro mean the same thing. They're used everywhere in online advertising. From Google to Facebook to Propeller Ads to Taboola. They look like [this] or like {this} or like [[this]] or even like --this--. Usually there's some non-alphanumeric characters surrounding a word to represent what that token/macro will be replaced with. It's important to understand and accept that there are a handful of places you'll see tokens and macros available to you in URL fields in the world of online advertising.

  1. Traffic Source Campaign URLs
  2. Tracker Landing Page URLs
  3. Tracker Offer URLs
  4. Traffic Source Postback URLs
  5. Affiliate Network Postback URLs

Right there you'll see 5 places in a single campaign that you'll see tokens in a URL. So you can see that if you do not have a firm grasp on how these tokens work and what they do you will fail hard immediately. You're almost done. Just study up on how we utilize tokens each step of the way in an online campaign. Luckily, Kintura makes it pretty easy to deal with this sea of tokens.

Traffic Source Campaign URLs

When you create a campaign at your Traffic Source (ExoClick, say) you'll be asked to enter a URL. ExoClick is asking you a simple question: Where do you want us to send people who click on your ad? The answer you'll give them is this: To my Kintura campaign entry URL. You can get this in Kintura by creating a new campaign. As soon as you do, you'll have access to your campaign's globally unique url. Now, you could not track any of your ExoClick token values -- but this would be silly. ExoClick gives you a plethora of tokens to tell you lots of awesome info about that single click! You can get the website's domain of where the ad appeared {src_hostname} the publisher's id {site_id} as well as the {zone_id} and {category_id} and even the price of the click/pop in {actual_cost}. The also have a special token {conversions_tracking} which allows you to tell ExoClick when a conversion has occurred. We will cover this later in Traffic Source Postback URLs.

A lot of confusion comes from this point in your campaign. Let's just focus on the simple way:

  1. In your Kintura console, go to Traffic Sources > Create New Traffic Source
  2. In the search box at the top just type Exo
  3. Select ExoClick
  4. Scroll down and hit Save.

Now, when you "Copy Campaign URL" in Kintura those will automatically be ready to go in your campaign link. This is called "Using a Traffic Source Preset." We have presets for most traffic sources. To add a Traffic Source manually, all you're going to do is type in those URL Query String Parameters (they're up to you, you just can't use cid) and the corresponding tokens. A Kintura Traffic Source is just a helper tool so you don't have to type in all those %&*(%! tokens every time you launch a campaign.

Tracker Landing Page URLs