Last week I explained how to use custom URL tags to track keyword level data from your Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns. In that post I promised to share the instructions for tracking that same data for MSN’s adCenter. Before I dig into the nitty-gritty, I must give a huge hat-tip to Alex Cohen for his original post on this subject. So without further ado, let me explain how to use tagging URLs to track keyword level data for adCenter in your Google Analytics reports.

Much like your Yahoo! PPC traffic, if left untagged, your adCenter traffic will appear in Analytics as organic visits from MSN. And what’s worse – you won’t have visibility into keywords because they’ll be listed in the (not set) category! Because you’re a smart search marketer, you know that you need more detailed information than that.

Following a path similar to last week, go ahead on over to the Google Analytics URL Builder. This is where you will be able to create custom tags for your adCenter destination URLs. You will need to complete the same information:

  1. Campaign Source (msn)
  2. Campaign Medium (cpc)
  3. Campaign Term (keywords!!!)
  4. Campaign Content (ad variation)
  5. Campaign Name (campaign or ad group name)

In a basic example, you would have to create a new destination URL for every keyword in your adCenter account. Since that is a time-sucking, tedious process, there are some effective work-arounds. Your adCenter account automatically sends information when searchers click your ads and they don’t require that you turn this function on or off (unlike Google and Yahoo!). What do they provide?

  1. Query String– this is the raw search query from or This is as close as you’ll come to automating the process of bringing your adCenter keywords into your Analytics reports.
  2. Match Type– this is a basic code that will tell you if the triggered keyword was broad, phrase or exact matched.
  3. OrderItemID – this is your ad group id.
  4. AdID – this is the id for your ad text variations.

If you’re sophisticated enough to use server logs to track your site’s visitors, you can simply append these variables to your destination URLs to record the data in your logs. But for the purpose of using Google Analytics, you’ll have to insert these variables into your custom URL tag. Here’s an example:

  • Basic Tracking URL: &utm_term=ppc%2Bhero&utm_content=best%2Bblog%2Bad%2B1 &utm_campaign=tracking%2Burls
  • New Variables: Term is {QueryString}, content is {AdID} and campaign is {OrderItemID}.
  • New Tracking URL: &utm_term={QueryString}&utm_content={AdID}&utm_campaign={OrderItemID}

Now you know how to track detailed keyword and account information from MSN adCenter in your Google Analytics account. When you combine this tactic with URL tagging in Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, you have at your disposal very powerful information. You will be able to make smarter decisions regarding keyword level bounce rate and time on site. You can compare conversion data (with goal funnels) between all of your sources and mediums of site traffic. All in all, using URL tagging to track keyword data in Analytics will make your job as a search marketer that much easier!

***UPDATE: We’ve written an updated post on URL tagging for Microsoft adCenter campaigns. Check it out to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date information!***