Media source and campaign mapping in people-based attribution

  • Advertisers

At a glance: how media source mapping works in People-Based Attribution (PBA).

Introduction

Media source mapping decides which media source gets the credit for bringing users to the website. It also associates the media source with the media type.

Media source mapping in PBA is different than media source mapping in mobile. Whereas media source mapping in mobile requires either an answer from SRN or an attribution link, PBA incorporates more factors into media source mapping.

Preventing self-attribution

The first aspect of media source mapping in PBA is preventing self-attribution. Self-attribution is when the website itself is considered a media source. For example, if a user clicks a link from example.com that leads to about.example.com, the media source is example.com.

The desired outcome is that the website example.com is not considered a media source. For this purpose, PBA uses the referral exclusion list. When you create a brand bundle, you specify the website domain. PBA excludes this domain from being considered a media source.

Determining the media source

PBA uses query parameters and referrers to determine the media source. PBA does that with the help of the web SDK. See the following methods that PBA uses for media source mapping. 

Media source mapping by pid parameter

The pid query parameter gets the highest priority. If the web SDK finds the pid parameter, it uses its value to determine the media source. See the following table for examples:

URL Media source name Explanation
mywebsite.com?pid=MyMediaSource MyMediaSource The web SDK finds the pid parameter on the URL and sends it to PBA. PBA then determines the media source as MyMediaSource
mywebsite.com?pid=MyMediaSource&utm_source=AnotherMediaSource MyMediaSource The pid parameter takes precedence over the utm_source

Special cases

In most cases, PBA determines the media source name as the exact value of the pid parameter. In some cases, if the pid has a value that AppsFlyer recognizes as an SRN, PBA determines the media source to be an SRN:

  URL Media source name
Regular pid mywebsite.com?pid=MyMediaSource MyMediaSource
SRN pid mywebsite.com?pid=facebook_int Facebook Ads

Other mobile-like parameters

You probably know that pid is used in mobile attribution links. Much the same way, the c parameter is used to indicate campaigns. You can use pid and c together to indicate the media source and campaign. You can see the campaign name in PBA raw data.

Media source mapping by Click IDs

Click IDs are used by major ad networks (like Google) to auto-tag campaigns. For more information about auto-tagging, see here.

Click IDs get the second-highest priority after the pid parameter. If pid is not on the URL, the web SDK tries to look for a click ID.

The web SDK looks for three types of click IDs:

  • gclid - This is a Google click ID. If this parameter is on the URL, the media source is googleadwords_int. The GCLID solution is not officially supported or recommended by Google. In case Google deprecates the GCLID parameter, the mapping logic will change to accommodate that.
  • dclid - this is a DoubleClick click ID. If this parameter is on the URL, the media source is doubleclick_int.
  • msclkid - this is a Bing click ID. If this parameter is on the URL, the media source is bingsearch_int.

Media source mapping by UTM parameters

UTM parameters are a set of parameters used to determine the source, medium, and campaign. For example, a URL with UTM parameters may look like this:

https://example.com?utm_source=media_source&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=summer_sale

UTM parameters get the third-highest priority. If pid or click ID are not on the URL, the web SDK looks for UTM parameters. For media source mapping purposes, only utm_source and utm_medium are considered.

UTM email rule

If the utm_medium has email, mail, or e-mail as its value, the media source mapping resolves to Email. This is regardless of the utm_source value.

UTM custom rules

There are several combinations of utm_source and utm_medium that resolve to specific media source mapping. See the following table:

utm_source utm_medium Final media source mapping
google cpc / ppc / paidsearch / search googleadwords_int
google cpm / display / banner / video / listing doubleclick_int
dfa / dbm cpm doubleclick_int
facebook cpc / ppc / cpm / cpa / paidsocial / paid-social Facebook Ads
bing cpc bingsearch_int
yahoo / gemini cpc / display / listing / yahoogemini_int
twitter cpc Twitter
snapchat swipe snapchat_int
pinterest cpc pinterest_int

Media source mapping by the referrer

The referrer is the source that sends the user to the website. The web SDK looks at the referrer in the browser when the user reaches the site.

The referrer gets the lowest priority of all mapping methods. If there is no pid, click ID, or UTM parameters on the URL, PBA maps the media source using the referrer.

In most cases, PBA maps the domain from the referrer as the media source. For example, if the user reaches the site from https://somewebsite.com, the media source is mapped as somewebsite.com.

Determining media source type

PBA also determines the media source type. The media source type appears in PBA raw data but not in the PBA analysis page.

For web campaigns, marketers usually segment media sources into three types of groups:

  • Paid - ad campaigns (display banners, videos, search ads, etc.)
  • Owned - marketing campaigns that come from owned media i.e. email campaigns, social posts, blogs, etc.
  • Earned - direct or organic traffic from search engines, referrals, or actual direct traffic.

See the following methods that PBA uses to determine the media type.

Determining media source type by pid

If the URL has a pid parameter, PBA determines the media type as paid. The idea is that the pid represents an ad network or advertising source that you pay to advertise your website. The pid parameter has the highest priority

If the value of the pid is a custom media source, PBA determines the media type as owned. Custom media sources are media sources that AppsFlyer recommends using with mobile custom links. See the following list:

  • Social Facebook
  • Social Twitter
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Blog

If any of these media sources appear as the value of the pid parameter, PBA determines the media type as owned.

Determining media source type by click ID

If the URL has click ID, PBA determines the media type as paid. The click ID has the second-highest priority. If pid is not on the URL, the web SDK tries to look for a click ID. The click IDs that the SDK looks for are:

  • gclid - This is a Google click ID. The GCLID solution is not officially supported or recommended by Google. In case Google deprecates the GCLID parameter, the mapping logic will change to accommodate that.
  • dclid - this is a DoubleClick click ID.
  • msclkid - this is a Bing click ID.

Determining media source type by UTM parameters

When PBA uses UTM parameters to determine the media source, the media type is owned unless the UTM parameters answer custom rules.

Determining media type by UTM custom rules

See the following table for UTM custom rules through which PBA determines the media type as paid:

utm_source utm_medium
facebook cpc / ppc / cpm / cpa / paidsocial / paid-social
google cpc / ppc / paidsearch / search
cpm / display / banner / video / listing
yahoo / gemini cpc / display / listing
bing / twitter / pinterest cpc
snapchat swipe

Determining media source type by referrer

The referrer is the source that sends the user to the website. The web SDK looks at the referrer in the browser when the user reaches the site.

The referrer gets the lowest priority of all mapping methods. If there is no pid, click ID, or UTM parameters in the URL, PBA determines the media type using the referrer.

In all cases, if media type is determined by referrer, the media type is earned. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  • If the domain host in the referrer contains https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net, the media type is paid.
  • If the domain host in the referrer contains https://tpc.googlesyndication.com, the media type is paid.

Determining the campaign

PBA determines the campaign name by one of two params:

  • c
  • utm_campaign

Each parameter has its paired media source parameter:

Media source parameter Campaign parameter
pid c
utm_source utm_campaign

It's not possible to mix and match the two. For example, it's not possible to specify the media source using pid and the campaign using utm_campaign. Similarly, it's not possible to specify the media source using utm_source and the campaign using c.

If pid is present on the URL, PBA looks for c to determine the campaign. If it doesn't find it, it treats the campaign as none. If utm_source is present on the URL, PBA looks for utm_campaign. If it doesn't find it, it treats the campaign as none.

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