AdWords remarketing with TrackingDesk campaign Data

The complete guide to using TrackingDesk to build custom audiences in Google Analytics in order to run remarketing campaigns in AdWords.

Who said TrackingDesk and Google Analytics couldn’t work together?

If you are advertising on AdWords, you know how efficient their remarketing campaigns can be. Yet, to make the most out of AdWords remarketing power, you need first to build your audience, and not any kind of audience.

A remarketing audience is a list of cookies or mobile-advertising IDs that represents a group of users you want to re-engage because of their likelihood to convert.Google

How do you define your audiences?

First of all, for an Adwords remarketing campaign to be efficient, you need to have a well define audience. Such audience requires some specific settings so you can target the segments of traffic which will have higher chances to re-engage with you. The broader the audience is, the less efficient your campaigns will be and vice-versa.

Therefore, you need to define specific attributes so that you can advertise a more targeted messages and increase your chances of success.

For example:

  • Visitors who came from a specific keyword
  • Visitors who visited a specific page of your site
  • Visitors who started a conversion funnel ex: optin

Naturally, you can mix some of those attributes to build a much more targeted audience to which you will be able to advertise a very targeted message.

Here is a short video from Google Analytics Youtube Channel which demonstrate how to build a custom audience.

How can you build remarketing audiences when your campaigns are running through TrackingDesk?

There are plenty of elements that can be used in the audience definitions settings and for the most part, they are native attributes provided by Google Analytics such as user agents attributes (devices, screen resolution, location, browser etc…). However, elements coming from campaigns running outside the Google network need to be set differently and in accordance with Google Analytics requirements. Those elements are for the most part the UTM parameters.

Once your audiences have been define, you need to connect your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts and enable the Adwords Remarketing features within the Google Analytics Admin.

Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media.WikiPedia

Ways to combine the power of TrackingDesk features with Google Analytics UTM parameters.

1. Predefine querystrings and their values on your landing page so that Google Analytics records them in their proper context.

*This is not recommended as it implies that this landing page will be exclusively used with the RTXPlatform

2. Predefine the querystrings and placeholders on  your landing page{source}&utm_medium={target}&utm_term={keyword}

*This is recommended as it implies that all placeholders will be dynamically filled with the traffic source attribute values. 

3. Predefine the querystrings, some values and placeholders.{source}&utm_medium={target}&utm_term={keyword}&utm_content=dating

*This is what I personally recommend since it allows to build audiences according to dynamic values but also to set some broader attributes, in this case “dating” which can define a general category targeting

How do the placeholders are being populated?

The placeholders are being populated according to the traffic source tracking templates. For example, the traffic source token/macro {keyword} being associated with the alias keyword, will automatically be injected the landing page url placeholder {keyword}. However, if you’ve predefined a value in one of the query strings, then this value will be set, regardless of the traffic source settings.

Traffic Source Settings

traffic source tokens

Landing Page URL Settings

landing page parameters

Being organized in the way you are setting up your landing pages and your TrackingDesk account will allow you to fully take advantage of the data you are collecting through your campaigns. This data becomes a valuable asset that can be further monetized through retargeting campaigns.

How to define your Landing Page URL

The way you define your landing page URL will allow the URL to capture the campaign attributes which are dynamically sent by the traffic source and that will “magically” appear in their appropriate placeholders.

To fully grasp the campaign tracking mechanism, you need to understand the traffic flow originating from the Traffic Source which will eventually redirect the visitor to the Landing Page.

  1. Campaign URL is clicked
  2. TrackingDesk records the visit and the traffic attributes (keywords, campaign id etc… )
  3. TrackingDesk generates a unique event_id (alpha numeric value used to track conversions)
  4. TrackingDesk redirects the visitor to the Landing Page while injecting the traffic attributes to the appropriate landing page placeholders
TrackingDesk Campaign URL[clickid]&utm_source=[source]&utm_medium=[type]&utm_campaign=[campaign]&utm_term=[keyword]&utm_content=[content]
TrackingDesk Campaign URL with real click values contest&utm_term=win an iphone&utm_content=iphone
Original Landing Page set in TrackingDesk{source}&utm_medium={target}&utm_campaign={var_9}&utm_term={keyword}&utm_content={var_8}
Landing Page URL with real click values contest&utm_term=win an iphone&utm_content=iphone

Which placeholders can be used in the landing page URL?

You can use any of the aliases defined in the traffic sources’ tracking templates can be used as placeholders on the landing page, and will automatically be injected in the landing page URL placeholders.

  • keyword is {keyword}
  • source is {source}
  • var_1 is {var_1}

Setting up your Adwords Remarketing campaign

Setting up your campaign in TrackingDesk is fairly similar to other campaigns, except for one element which you will want to track in order to correlate the remarketing campaign with the original audience that you are targeting. Therefore, we strongly recommend to set one of the traffic source custom parameters as your original audience.

Important take away:

If you’ve never done any retargeting campaigns before or if you’ve done it the very basic way you are probably realizing that there is a new world of opportunities that can be explored from many different angles.

  1. Learn, Test, Learn and test again. Only experiments will lead you to uncover successful campaigns.
  2. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
  3. Stay very organized if you want to build valuable retargeting lists.
  4. Track Everything you can but stay within common sense since you do not want to run retargeting campaigns on audiences that are too small.
  5. While this post relates to Adwords remarketing campaigns, these features are also available through social media advertising networks (facebook, twitter etc…) and for more advanced users through CRM / email remarketing (again, don’t be afraid to explore).

Get Started Today

It’s easy to get started with Adwords remarketing.  If you already have traffic flowing through your TrackingDesk account toward your landing pages, you can start by following the basic setup to fill your Google Analytics audiences to plan your next remarketing campaign.

Here is a list of blogs that specialize on retargeting:

ADwords Blog

PerfectAudience Blog

AdRoll Blog

Remarketing is a very broad aspect of online advertising. I have barely scratched its surface and I am sure so much can be said about the subject so if you have some tips to share or comments to add I’m sure our readers will be happy to read them.


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TrackingDesk service was discontinued in June 2019.

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