Using UTM Campaign Parameters in Adobe Analytics

Originally written by Adam Greco on May 9, 2016
One of the primary use cases for digital analytics tools like Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics (GA) is the ability to track external campaign referrals and see their impact on KPI’s. Way back in 2008 (yes, 8 years ago!), I blogged about how to track campaigns in Adobe Analytics (then called Omniture SiteCatalyst). Since then, a lot has changed in the online marketing landscape. With many digital marketers being exposed to Google Analytics, the way campaign tracking is done in GA has almost become the industry de facto standard. The most popular GA method uses a set of UTM parameters to identify the campaign source, medium, term, content and campaign (though there is a “utm_id” option similar to how Adobe does it). These parameters are normally passed in the URL and parsed by GA to populate the appropriate analytics reports. But as Adobe Analytics users know, Adobe uses one variable (s.campaigns) to track external campaigns. So what if you are running both Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics or you simply want to use the Google standard since that is what your advertising agencies are using? In this post, I will show how you can make the UTM campaign code tracking standard work in Adobe Analytics so your campaign data matches what is in GA.

Updating the Query String Parameter Code

Most Adobe Analytics clients are using something akin to in their URL’s and having the GetQueryParameter JavaScript Plug-in pass the value after “cid=” to the s.campaigns variable. But in reality, you can pass any values you want to s.campaigns and the plug-in can be configured to look for any query string parameter. Therefore, if you want to use the UTM campaign parameters, you can adjust the plug-in to concatenate the values into one string with a separator and pass it to the s.campaigns variable. For example, if you view the URL below, you will see that I have used four out of the five UTM parameters in the URL:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.08.56 PM

From here, the plug-in does the concatenation and as you can see in the JavaScript Debugger, here is what is passed to the s.campaigns variable in Adobe Analytics:


If you want more details on the technical implementation of this, you can check out this article on the Adobe forum.

Reporting on UTM Campaign Codes

Once you have completed the above technical implementation and have campaign data populating into Adobe Analytics, here is what it might look like in the campaigns report:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.38.50 PM

Now that you have the data in a consistent format, you can use SAINT Classifications to split out each of the parameters into separate reports. To do this, you would add a new SAINT Classification for each UTM parameter you used. This is done in the Administration Console and as shown below, I have added four new classifications (Source, Medium, Campaign Description and Campaign Owner):

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.47.15 PM

Once you have your classification reports created, you need to tell Adobe Analytics how to populate them. You could upload the meta-data manually, but the easiest way to do this is to use the SAINT Rule Builder, which allows you to automate the classifications using RegEx or other methods. In this scenario, RegEx is the most logical option since it can be used to parse out each parameter using the “:” as the separator. This is what the rule set would look like:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.45.21 PM

Once this is activated, you can see your campaign data in each of these reports (Source report shown here as an example):
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.56.51 PM

Final Thoughts

It is up to each organization to decide how it wants to track its marketing campaigns. I have many clients who like to customize how assign campaign codes, so please don’t take this post as a recommendation for adopting the UTM approach. A similar process can be adopted no matter what naming convention you decide to use for your campaign codes. However, there are many benefits of adopting naming conventions once they become a standard, such as integration with 3rd party tools and data integration. It is my hope that this post simply educates you on how you can use the UTM campaign code approach in Adobe Analytics if needed. There is more discussion on this topic in Quora if you are interested in delving into the topic in more detail.
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