Which values will be recorded to the hit and session data tables when GCLID auto-tagging and manual UTM tagging data overlap in Google Ads?

When you use both “Auto-tagging” and “Manual tagging” in your Google Ads campaigns, then a tag overlapping problem occurs. In this case, OWOX BI will follow specific rules while processing data. Learn more below.

Tracking values in hit data

General rule: OWOX BI saves all data to the hit data table when it receives a hit on the access point. In this article, we will describe different options for processing only UTM tags and the GCLID parameter:

  • The values of the UTM tags ‘utm_source’, ‘utm_medium’, ‘utm_campaign’, ‘utm_keyword’, and ‘utm_content’ specified in the ad URL will be written to the corresponding fields of the hit table: traffic.source, traffic.medium, traffic.campaign, traffic.keyword and traffic.adContent.
  • The value of the GCLID parameter specified in the ad URL will be written to the field traffic.gclid.

To better understand how this rule works in different situations, let's look at a few examples.

Example #1

Page URL contains UTM tags ‘utm_source’, ‘utm_medium’ and GCLID parameter, but does not contain UTM tags ‘utm_campaign’, ‘utm_keyword’ and ‘utm_content’. Then the values from ‘utm_source’, and ‘utm_medium’ will be written to the hit table in the traffic.source and traffic.medium fields, respectively. And the fields traffic.campaign, traffic.keyword and traffic.adContent will get the value ‘(not set)’. The traffic.gclid field will contain the value of the GCLID parameter.

Example #2

The ad URL has a GCLID parameter and does not contain the ‘utm_source’, ‘utm_medium’, ‘utm_campaign’, ‘utm_keyword’, and ‘utm_content’. Then the ‘google’ value will be written in the traffic.source field, and the ‘cpc’ value will fall into the traffic.medium field. And fields traffic.campaign, traffic.keyword and traffic.adContent will get the value ‘(not set)’. The value of the GCLID parameter will be written to the hit table according to paragraph #2 of the general rule.

The values ‘google/cpc’ corresponds exactly to the Google Analytics processing flow.

Example #3

The ad URL does not contain the ‘utm_source’, ‘utm_medium’, and a GCLID parameter. Then the OWOX BI algorithm will try to fill in the traffic.source and traffic.medium fields based on other signs. For example, if a website facebook.com is the source of the hit, then the traffic.source field would be ‘facebook’ and the traffic.medium field would be ‘referral’. If all attempts to determine the source of the hit have failed, these fields will be filled with ‘(not set)’.

 

Tracking values in session data

You can independently control what values will be written to the fields of session tables when some UTM tags are crossed or missing. To do this, set the data download priority in the streaming pipeline settings: “Manual tagging” или “Auto-tagging”.

Please note that for the “Auto-tagging” option to work correctly, the field traffic.gclid must be filled in hit tables and a table with raw data of Google Ads campaigns with auto-tagging must be connected.

ImportantTo collect data on advertisements with auto-tagging, the GCLID value should be as follows: gclid=XXXX. Any other formats of GCLID value (for example, gclid*XXXX) will not be processed and written to the session data tables.

Manual tagging option

When the “Manual tagging” option is selected, the OWOX BI algorithm will first of all look at the values of the traffic.campaign and traffic.keyword fields in the hit tables streaming.

  • If the values of these fields are not empty, then they are written without any changes to the session tables owoxbi_sessions in the fields trafficSource.campaign and trafficSource.keyword respectively.
  • If the values of these fields are empty (the value ‘(not set)’ is specified), then in this case the OWOX BI algorithm will attempt to find the values of these fields according to the corresponding ‘gclidin the table with raw data on Google Ads campaigns.
    • If data with this ‘gclidwas found, then the found value will be written to the session tables owoxbi_sessions.
    • The ‘(not set)’ value will be written if not found.

Auto-tagging option

When the “Auto-tagging” option is selected, the OWOX BI algorithm, when generating session data, first of all, checks the values for the trafficSource.campaign and trafficSource.keyword fields for the corresponding ‘gclid’ in the tables with raw data on Google Ads campaigns.

  • If the values are found, then they are written to the session tables in the trafficSource.campaign and trafficSource.keyword fields.
  • If the values are not found, then the OWOX BI algorithm in the next iteration will try to find these data in the hit tables streaming in the traffic.campaign and traffic.keyword fields.
    • If data on this ‘gclidis found, then the found value will be written to the session tables owoxbi_sessions.
    • The ‘(not set)’ value will be written if not found.

In addition to this action, the OWOX BI algorithm performs one more action with data transformation when the “Auto-tagging” option is selected. In the session tables, the fields trafficSource.source and trafficSource.medium will contain the values ‘google’ and ‘cpc’, respectively, even if other values are stored in the hit tables in the fields traffic.source and traffic.medium.

And let's look at a few examples again to understand how this rule works in different situations.

Example #4

The ad page URL contains UTM tags ‘utm_source=111’, ‘utm_medium=222’, ‘utm_campaign=333’, ‘utm_keyword=444’ and parameter ‘gclid=XXXX’. And also in the connected table with raw data of Google Ads campaigns, other values correspond to this GCLID parameter: campaign=’555’ and keyword=’666’.

According to the logic from examples 1 and 2, the hit tables streaming will contain the following values in the fields: traffic.source = ‘111’, traffic.medium = ‘222’, traffic.campaign = ‘333’, traffic.keyword = ‘444’ and traffic.gclid = ‘XXXX’.

What values will be written in the session tables:

  • When the “Manual tagging” option is active the same values from the hit table will be written in session tables owoxbi_sessions without changes: trafficSource.source = ‘111’, trafficSource.medium = ‘222’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘333’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘444’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
  • When the “Auto-tagging” option is active the following values will be recorded in the session tables owoxbi_sessions: trafficSource.source = ‘google’, trafficSource.medium = ‘cpc’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘555’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘666’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
Example #5

The ad page URL contains UTM tags ‘utm_source=111’, ‘utm_medium=222’ and parameter ‘gclid=XXXX’. And also in the connected table with raw data of Google Ads campaigns, other values correspond to this GCLID parameter: campaign=’333’ and keyword=’444’.

According to the logic from examples 1 and 2, the hit tables streaming will contain the following values in the fields: traffic.source = ‘111’, traffic.medium = ‘222’, traffic.campaign = ‘(not set)’, traffic.keyword = ‘(not set)’ and traffic.gclid = ‘XXXX’.

What values will be written in the session tables:

  • When the “Manual tagging” option is active the following values will be recorded in the session tables owoxbi_sessions: trafficSource.source = ‘111’, trafficSource.medium = ‘222’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘333’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘444’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
  • When the “Auto-tagging” option is active the following values will be recorded in the session tables owoxbi_sessions: trafficSource.source = ‘google’, trafficSource.medium = ‘cpc’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘333’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘444’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
Example #6

The ad page URL contains only the parameter ‘gclid=XXXX’ and does not contain any UTM tags. Also in the connected table with raw data of Google Ads campaigns, other values correspond to this GCLID parameter: campaign=’111’ and keyword=’222’.

According to the logic from examples 1 and 2, the hit tables streaming will contain the following values in the fields: traffic.source = ‘google’, traffic.medium = ‘cpc’, traffic.campaign = ‘(not set)’, traffic.keyword = ‘(not set)’ and traffic.gclid = ‘XXXX’.

What values will be written in the session tables:

  • When the “Manual tagging” option is active the following values will be recorded in the session tables owoxbi_sessions: trafficSource.source = ‘google’, trafficSource.medium = ‘cpc’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘111’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘222’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
  • When the “Auto-tagging” option is active the following values will be recorded in the session tables owoxbi_sessions: trafficSource.source = ‘google’, trafficSource.medium = ‘cpc’, trafficSource.campaign = ‘111’, trafficSource.keyword = ‘222’ and trafficSource.gclid = ‘XXXX’.
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