AppMetrica Blog

URL parameters: How to get the most out of tracking URLs

5 April 2017, 17:30

Tracking URLs are mainly used for monitoring paid installs and evaluating the performance of advertising partners. But ads aren't the only place where users find download links – other traffic sources include social networks, blogs, and promotional websites. You can analyze conversion rates for these channels as well, by replacing direct links with tracking URLs. In today's article, we'll show you how to make tracking URLs perform for you.


So why do I need to add parameters to the tracking URL?

Let's look at an example. Say you make five posts in a Facebook group to attract new users. These posts discuss the five best features of your app, and you want to find out which one attracted more of the audience.

To do this, you will need to use five different links to the app and get the conversion rate for each of them. You could create an AppMetrica tracker for each post and replace all the direct links with tracking URLs, but this approach has its drawbacks:

  • You'll have to set up a lot of trackers.
  • The report and the list of trackers will be cluttered with a lot of similar and uninformative rows in addition to the ad campaigns, which can create confusion.

We have a solution: create a single tracking URL for the entire improvised campaign and add URL parameters that vary depending on the post. You can use either static or dynamic parameters (macros). Keep reading for the details.

Static parameters

These kinds of parameters are easy to add to a tracking URL. Just append a question mark and a key-value pair (key=value) to the end of the URL, like this:

https://redirect.appmetrica.yandex.com/serve/123456?key=value

The URL can have multiple pairs like this, separated by an ampersand &. The same syntax works for UTM tags.

After a user clicks the link, you'll see a tree like this in the Traffic Sources report:

Now let's go back to the Facebook posts. You'll need a tracking URL and a custom parameter that tells you that a user came from a specific post. Let's call it post_id.

How can you best mark the parameters in the tracking URL so that the Traffic Sources report is as convenient and informative as possible?

  1. Create the Facebook partner.
  2. Create a tracker for this partner and call it "Promo post".
  3. You will use the resulting tracking URL in all five posts. This is where the custom parameters come into play, as you need to append them to the link.

For each of the 5 promo posts, add post_id = 1, post_id = 2, and so on to the end of the URL.

Once the campaign starts, the report will have a clear and helpful structure:

Now you can easily see each promotional post in the report on trackers. Even better, all the other reports are segmented by these parameters. This means that you can see which actions are performed by users who installed the app after learning about a specific app feature:

Macros

Macros are dynamic parameters. Their values change depending on information surrounding the user's click.

Typically, ad networks use macros to transmit various information to AppMetrica, from the click ID to the usr's gender and age.

For example, the MyTarget tracking URLs have the macros gender = {{gender}} and age = {{age}}. When a user clicks a link, MyTarget automatically substitutes the gender and age of the user in place of {{Gender}} and {{Age}}. These values ​​are then shown in the AppMetrica report:

AppMetrica is integrated with over 100 advertising partners. Most likely, all the macros you need are already configured by default. But if the report is missing some data that you need, you can probably find macros for it in the partner's instructions, or get more information from their support service.

You can also collect user data on your own site and transmit it via a tracking URL. Use JavaScript to append the values.

For example, if your site users can log in, a URL macro will help you send the login name to AppMetrica. This way you will see that a particular user has installed the app via the link on your site.


Transmitting parameters to the destination URL

Macro parameters can be inserted into the destination URL. One of the life hacks that we use involves linking to the App Store for different regions.

Of course, if you click a link to the App Store on a mobile device, the store automatically opens in your native language. But if you click it on a computer, it opens the web version of the App Store for the region specified in the URL. The language shown is the one that Apple selected by default for this region.

For instance, take the Yandex.Metrica app for iOS. There are four install links, depending on the App Store region:

Russia - https://itunes.apple.com/ru/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310
Ukraine - https://itunes.apple.com/ua/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310
U.S. - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310
Turkey - https://itunes.apple.com/tr/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310

Users would be puzzled if the Russian promo page opened the U.S. version of the App Store. You could create a separate tracker for each variation of the page in the store, but there is a way to do it with just one tracker:

Create a tracker in AppMetrica and edit the destination URL. Insert a macro in curly brackets in place of the language parameter. For example:

https://itunes.apple.com/{region}/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310

Here, region is the user's native language that should be used for displaying the App Store page.

2. Save the tracking URL and append a parameter to the end of it that matches the site's locale. For example:

https://redirect.appmetrica.yandex.com/serve/123456?region = ru

What happens next?

When the tracking link is clicked, the value of the region parameter that is specified after the equal sign is inserted in the destination URL. The user is redirected to https://itunes.apple.com/ru/app/yandex.metrica/id1148059310 and sees the App Store for their home region.

As a result, you are using custom parameters to make one tracker work for four similar URLs at once.

Here we've covered a couple of examples that can really help optimize how you are using trackers. We will be glad to help you with setting up tracking URLs – write to us at appmetrica@yandex-team.com.