What are UTM parameters?


This section is mainly for users who wish to leverage our advanced measurement capabilities. If you wish to stick to a basic setup and only use the standard fields of Smart Links Tracking settings, this article is entirely facultative.

If you have read our Promotion Analytics step-by-step guide, you probably stumbled upon the words 'UTM parameters'. If you're new to the world of tracking and analytics, the concept might have sounded somewhat obscure. Don't worry though, it is fairly easy to grasp once laid out in simple terms.

Table of content

A bit of history

First, a bit of trivia. 'UTM' stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Urchin was a pioneer of analytics founded in the 90s. It was acquired by Google in 2005 and was soon rebranded to Google Analytics.

Urchin was no more but the term UTM stuck around and the technology was adopted by the analytics industry at large, including by Google Analytics competitors such as Adobe Analytics. They have been the trusty backbone of desktop and mobile web tracking up to this day.

What is a UTM parameter

Behind the somewhat obscure name hides a simple string of text that you append at the end of the URL of the page you're sending visitors to. By appending this text, you 'mark' the visitor to identify what website they came from. It's a bit like sewing your kid's name to their jacket so it's easy to retrieve them in the lost-and-found box.

Now, you can't just write any text. It has to follow a certain format. Here's an example:


As you can see

  • A '?' sign needs to be inserted between the website URL and the UTM parameters
  • Individual UTM parameters are linked with the '&' sign
  • There are 5 different UTM parameters.

Why 5? They each serve a purpose and provide different levels of granularity.

Setting Purpose Examples
source Identifies what exact site or property the traffic came from organic_social, paid_social, owned_media, sem, print, etc.
medium Identifies the type of media the traffic came from newsletter, blog, website, cross_promotion, instagram, tiktok, facebook, tiktok, etc.
campaign Use this field to pass strategic information about your marketing campaign, like the target country and the starting date. We will release an article on campaign naming conventions soon.
content Filling out this field gives you the opportunity to collect an extra level of granularity. You can type the ad name, or a brief description of the post. We will release an article on campaign naming conventions soon.
term This field is traditionally used to insert the keyword on which you bid when running search ads such as Google Search Ads or Bing Ads. 'health', 'cars', 'economy'


  • Our servers currently don't process the term parameter. Refrain from using it when using UTM override with our Smart Links.
  • The order of the parameters is irrelevant, though it's customary to follow the order depicted above
  • You don't have to use all 5 parameters each time. Decide based on the desired level of granularity. For instance an Instagram bio link could very well just be pdcst.to/xxxxxx?utm_source=instagram&utm_medium=social-media. In that case, it is probably easier to not to build the URL yourself and use the link setting fields instead (see example below).

How do UTM params work

When the URL is loaded, an image pixel or JavaScript tag is loaded and sends the information on a server.

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