Let’s say you are buying media space directly from a publisher and you want to measure impressions and clicks using Adform. This means utilising a service Adform calls TPAS (Third-Party Ad Services).

There are several benefits to that. Adform assigns its own IDs to impressions and clicks going through this type of measurement. That way, you can get conversion-related data about the directly run campaigns as well as create audiences and use them in your retargeting efforts. It also comes in handy if you are suspecting some discrepancies between numbers reported in an Excel sheet from the publisher and reality.

Beginner’s Guide to Adform Impression and Click Tracking

To start measuring, you need to do the following.

  • Set up creatives
  • Fill out your media plan
  • Build a Tag ID
  • Add UTM parameters to newly formed Line Item
  • Create impression and click tracking
  • Test and measure

Before we start

In order to get this right, there are several technicalities you should understand. Think of it as background reading that helps you to avoid some nasty unwelcome surprises.

Pricing model

Before we get into technical details, let’s talk about Adform’s pricing model, because it might be a bit difficult to wrap one’s head around it.

In your contract, you will have two prices for TPAS – a price per one thousand impressions and a price per click.

Once you start using TPAS, it will be charged based on what kind of data you have more. Depending on which data you’ve collected more (impressions or clicks), you will be billed according to that charge line.

Let’s say if you have only tracked clicks, this way you’ll be billed for clicks only. Keep in mind that the system will compare which line has more units – that means if you gather 2,000 impressions, but 3 clicks, you will be billed for clicks. If you gather 5,000 impressions, but 4 clicks, you will be billed for impressions.

Thanks to Aivaras Maceina for clarifying this.

Impression tracking pixel format

This is how Adform’s impression tracking pixel looks like.

<img src="https://track.adform.net/adfserve/?bn=XXXXXXXX;1x1inv=1;srctype=3;ord=[timestamp]" border="0" width="1" height="1"/>

It is an image that publishers set up along with your creative. When your creative loads along with this image, the image sends a request to Adform’s server, signaling that an impression has occurred.

The bn parameter contains your Tag ID. We will cover the specifics of it as we go along.

The ord parameter contains a timestamp field that the publisher has to fill in. Adding a unique timestamp to the pixel prevents loading a cached version of the pixel, thus avoiding imprecise impressions measurement.

Some publishers do not fill out the timestamp field with actual date and time, instead opting for a string of unique random characters. That’s fine too.

Click tracking link format

This is how Adform’s click tracking link looks like.

https://track.adform.net/C/?bn=XXXXXXXX

This link serves as your ad’s destination URL. Make sure the publisher sets it up that way. When a visitor clicks on this link, they will be redirected to Adform’s server, where the click will be counted. Afterwards, the visitor gets redirected to final destination (your site). Don’t worry about speed; redirection happens in a matter of lower hundreds of milliseconds. All you need to do is to fill out your creative’s Tag ID.

This concludes the background reading part. Let’s make some ads!

Set up creatives

Upload your banners and assign them Click URLs leading to your final destination. We are doing this first, because it’s the optimal workflow arrangement. Trust me on this one.

Fill out media plan

If you are buying media directly, chances are you talked to your publisher about the amount of purchased impressions, rebates and CPM. To make sure that Adform counts all the necessary metrics like CPC and CPM properly, you have to enter those numbers into that line item.

If you are running a small directly purchased campaign, I recommend putting one ad format into one line item. It makes everything much easier to evaluate and report.

Build a Tag ID

Once you have filled out the media plan, go to a section called Tags. Select the creative you want to promote and hit Save.

Create impression and click tracking

With the line item saved, you can copy the Tag ID and add it to the impression tracking pixel and the click tracker. In both cases, the Tag ID is the value of the bn parameter.

This is what our RTB team usually ends up sending to the client / publishers for implementation.

<!-- 300x250, Forbes.com, whole inventory -->
Click URL : https://track.adform.net/C/?bn=12345678
Impressions tracker : <img src="https://track.adform.net/adfserve/?bn=12345678;1x1inv=1;srctype=3;ord=[timestamp]" border="0" width="1" height="1"/>

<!-- 300x600, CNN, IT Pack -->
Click URL : https://track.adform.net/C/?bn=87654321
Impressions tracker : <img src="https://track.adform.net/adfserve/?bn=87654321;1x1inv=1;srctype=3;ord=[timestamp]" border="0" width="1" height="1"/>

<!-- 2000x1400, Yahoo!, Lifestyle Pack -->
Click URL : https://track.adform.net/C/?bn=24681012
Impressions tracker : <img src="https://track.adform.net/adfserve/?bn=24681012;1x1inv=1;srctype=3;ord=[timestamp]" border="0" width="1" height="1"/>

Once this is done, make sure the publisher tests the impression pixels as well as the link click trackers.