GA Campaign Tracking Parameters: What’s Really Required?
Google Analytics campaign tracking is great, and we’ve talked about it lots before. The official story with the campaign tracking parameters is that Campaign, Source, and Medium (
utm_medium) are all required. It says so in the the URL builder tool, for example.
I wondered though, what would happen if you left one or two of these off? Would campaign tracking still work?
The short answer is: As long as you include a source (
utm_source), campaign parameters still work.
If the URL has the
utm_source parameter, cookies get set correctly. If it has one of the other parameters but no
utm_source, the cookies about where a visitor came from don’t get re-set at all (similar to using
What does it look like in reports? If you leave off either
utm_campaign, you just get “(not set)” as the value for those fields (shown here in the All Traffic Sources and Campaign reports):
Although I still recommend using all three fields for campaign tracking, this does have one take-home lesson: If you have situations in which URLs might get cut off (such as a plain-text email), always put the source first. This will help ensure you’ll at least get some data even if the other parameters are lopped off.
About Jonathan Weber
Jonathan Weber is the Data Evangelist at LunaMetrics. He spreads the principles of analytics through our training seminars all over the East coast. The next seminar he'll be leading will be a Google Analytics training in Boston. Before he caught the analytics bug, he worked in information architecture. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. Jonathan’s breadth of knowledge – from statistics to analysis to library science – is somewhat overwhelming.