2011 note: We’re going to revise this to reflect Bing’s and Yahoo’s current state.
(Applies to: all)
Um, for newbies we probably ought to define “markers” first, as used in the title.
When we say markers, we mean special query parameters (in the landing page URL) that mark something for tracking and reporting purposes. They’re also called
- “tracking variables”
- “tagging your ads” (in PPC)
These parameters have no other function than tracking. They don’t alter the page content the way .asp parameters do. They’re just there to say “this hit is a little different, it comes from a paid search ad” or “it comes from a particular banner campaign” or “it comes from a particular email.”
An example would be a pay-per-click landing page URL that has
- a marker parameter that informs you that the page was reached from Yahoo’s PPC program
- another parameter might tell you exactly what paid-for term caused the visit
- another that relays the search term actually used by the searcher
Normally (i.e. in Google AdWords, which we’ll call “normally” today) you have to insert these parameters in the landing page URL yourself and supply that modified landing page URL to Google. Google does have a feature for automatically attaching an encrypted parameter called “gclid” but only Google Analytics can decode it into a search term.
However, Yahoo Sponsored Search does a fantastic job of automatically adding markers to landing pages.
It’s not on by default, so here’s how to turn it on. In the Yahoo PPC admin, go to:
Account > Account Set Up > Overture Tracking URLs
The tracking URLs check box is in the lower right quadrant of the Account Set Up page, or it was the last time we looked.
Yahoo adds these parameters:
- ovkey= the actual term paid for
- ovraw= the term that the searcher actually used
- ovmtc= the match type used to match the searcher’s term to your paid-for term
Consider a custom report or URL Parameter Analysis report of two dimensions: the actual term paid for (ovkey), and the term used by the searcher (ovraw). Look through the results and find inappropriate matches. They’ll give you ideas for negative keywords and, voila, your reports are actually helping you save money!