Google Click Identifier (GCLID) and Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters allow you to track your marketing campaign’s performance more accurately. Both analyze and interpret online traffic sources but serve different purposes with distinct applications.
GCLID, a unique tracking parameter generated by Google Ads, is added to the URL of your landing pages to track your advertisement’s success. When a user clicks on a Google ad, GCLID provides insights into the user interaction and behavior from the ad.
The GCLID identifier typically resembles a series of alphanumeric characters appended to a URL.
If the URL of the landing page is https://www.yoursite.com, after a user clicks on the ad, the URL might look like:
GCLID can help marketers track:
The gclid parameter is not merely a tracking tool. It also helps marketers:
Using GCLID with Google Analytics can help you track user behavior across your Google ads.
An automotive company promoting a new car model can use GCLID to analyze user data like location, device, and keywords across different regions and platforms. This way, they can pinpoint which ads drive interest and sales, and target the right customers in the right geographic location.
A university looking to attract new students to specific programs or courses can use GCLID to understand the keywords that resonate with prospective students, the geographical areas showing higher interest, and the devices used to access the ads. The university can use this information to create more targeted and appealing campaigns.
Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes are simple pieces of code added to the end of a URL to help marketers track the performance of their online marketing efforts across various channels. Unlike the GCLID, which is specific to Google Ads, UTM codes are platform-independent, providing a more versatile tool for monitoring web traffic.
Here’s what a typical UTM code might look like:
And a breakdown of the various components to show what UTMs can track:
Different from GCLID, UTM can help marketers:
🤔 Why are both GCLID and UTM codes valuable to help businesses track user behavior?
“While GCLID (Google Click Identifier) is instrumental in tracking user interactions specifically within Google Ads, UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes offer a broader view. Combining both tools can create a comprehensive picture of user behavior, enabling teams to make data-driven decisions to optimize marketing strategies.”
–Josh Petovello, Sr. Marketing Data Analyst
However, you can use UTM codes with Google Analytics 4 to pull information on how different media tactics drive traffic to your website.
A QSR can use UTMs to identify the best marketing channels and advertising content to reach potential customers. Tracking parameters like source, medium, and campaign can help them tailor special menu promotions for specific segments like families or professionals.
UTM codes offer a viable cookieless targeting solution for tracking user interactions without infringing on user privacy. Companies can create unique UTM codes to track the source, medium, and campaign that works best for their audience.
GCLID (Google Click Identifier) and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes track online marketing performance, but they serve different purposes.
The GCLID allows you to track ads specifically within the Google Ads platform.
UTM codes are platform-independent and can be manually set up to track various parameters like source, medium, campaign, term, and content across multiple platforms and campaigns.
GCLID is exclusive to Google’s ecosystem and offers detailed insights into ad performance on Google’s advertising network.UTM codes provide a comprehensive and flexible approach suitable for multichannel tracking.
The choice between GCLID and UTM often depends on the specific needs and goals of the marketing campaign, with GCLID focusing on Google Ads optimization and UTM codes offering a broader perspective on overall online engagement.
GCLID is tailored for Google Ads, providing precise tracking within Google’s ecosystem, and integrating with Google Analytics, while UTMs offer platform-independent tracking across various channels.
Using GCLID and UTMs together gives a comprehensive view of online presence and advertising success, catering to different platforms and offering an alternative to tracking cookies. Choosing between them depends on campaign needs, but understanding their differences empowers marketers to create the most impactful campaigns.
Alex Morisset is the VP of Product and Solutions at KORTX.
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