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).

Beginner’s Guide to Adform Impression and Click Tracking

TPAS comes in handy when you are suspecting some discrepancies between numbers reported in a publisher's Excel sheet and reality. Retargeting is another fun use case, but we'll leave that for later.

To start measuring, you need to do the following.

  • Set up creatives
  • Fill out your media plan
  • Build Tag IDs
  • Add UTM parameters to newly formed Line Items
  • 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 this section as a background reading that helps you to avoid some nasty surprises.

Pricing Model

Before we get into technical details, let’s talk about Adform’s pricing model.

Your contract will have two prices for TPAS – the price per one thousand impressions and the price per click.

When you track only clicks, you’ll be billed for clicks only. When you track only impressions, you'll be billed for impressions only. So far, so good, right?

When you track both clicks and impressions, Adform will compare which one of those (either thousands of impressions or units of clicks) tracked more units and bill you accordingly.

Example

If you'd tracked 2,000 impressions and 3 clicks before the end of the invoicing period, you will be billed for clicks. That's because 3 > 2.

 

If you'd tracked 5,000 impressions and 4 clicks before the end of the invoicing period, you will be billed for impressions. That's because 5 > 4.

Remember, we are thinking in thousands of impressions, not in units of impressions.

  Impressions Clicks What gets billed
Scenario 1 238,189 395 clicks
Scenario 2 1,375,871 1,123 impressions
Scenario 3 2,318,511 1,791 impressions

 

Thanks to Aivaras Maceina for contributing to this melange of information.

All clear? Let's tackle another fun question. How do we actually measure impressions and clicks?

Impression Tracking Pixel Format

Adform, much like any other TPAS, offers impression tracking pixels and click tracking links.

Here's how the impression tracker 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 a 1x1 pixel image that publishers set up to their ad servers along with your supplied creative. When the creative loads along with this pixel, a request gets sent to Adform’s server. When the server processes the request, Adform counts an impression.

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!

This RTB thing seems pretty complicated. Can you do it for us?

Yes, we can!

Get in touch

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 Tag IDs

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.

To maintain order, I'd recommend saving your trackers, so you know what you sent to each publisher.