Campaign and Referrer Data: What's the difference?

Understand the difference and when to use campaign and referrer data.

Analyzing where a user came from and how they landed on your site can be done in different ways depending on your data and what you want to analyze. In this section, we'll break down some scenarios and help define when to use certain Woopra fields such as "campaign source" or "referrer type" to get the most accurate data.

What is the difference between URL and URI in Woopra?

URL and URI can differ depending on the platform you're using. However, in Woopra, we define URL as anything after the domain name. For example, if you visit the page "https://www.woopra.com/learn," the URL field in Woopra would be '/learn'. The URI in Woopra is the complete address including the 'https'.

What is referrer data?

Wikipedia states:
"In HTTP, 'referrer' is the name of an optional HTTP header field that identifies the address of the web page (i.e., the URI or IRI), which is linked to the resource being requested. By checking the referrer, the server providing the new web page can see where the request originated.

In the most common situation, this means that when a user clicks a hyperlink in a web browser, causing the browser to send a request to the server holding the destination web page, the request may include the Referer field, which indicates the last page the user was on (the one where they clicked the link)."

In other words, Woopra will attempt to pull this referrer data that's stored in the user's browser (if available) and we'll use that referrer URI to determine the Woopra field 'referrer URL' and 'referrer type'. There is logic on our backend that determines the referrer type based on rules such as: if referrer URI contains "google.com" then type is "search."

You can read more on Why Referrer Tracking can be Inaccurate, but the main point is that tracking applications are not always able to pull referrer data from the user's browser. Typically, this field should be used as a general sense of where users are coming from and not a definitive answer.

What is campaign data?

The "Campaign" fields you'll find in Woopra are based on extracting UTM data from the URIs of pageviews on your site. Check out our Campaign Tracking doc to help understand how to create UTM links.

When a visitor clicks on an ad you created, we always recommend using UTM tags when creating all external links to your site (paid or not). This way, when a user lands on your page containing UTM tags, they'll land on a page that looks like:

"http://www.yourwebsite.com/?utm_campaign=promo&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=web_paid_ppc&utm_content=banner"

Campaign data will always be more accurate since it's not relying on referrer data (which may or may not exist) since the URI is always recorded on pageview events in Woopra. When a URI is recorded on a pageview event, Woopra will automatically extract the UTM data into separate fields under "Campaigns."

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All of these "campaign" fields are extracted from utm_campaign, utm_source, etc.

When should I use campaign data or referrer data?

Since not all external links can contain UTM data (such as search engine traffic), it's often best to either focus on general traffic trends or campaign data. More often than not, paid campaigns will contain UTM tags so using Woopra's Campaign fields should be used to analyze paid campaign performance. Since there are several UTM tags you can define such as 'utm_medium', you can specify whether the link was paid or not (like in our example UTM link "http://www.yourwebsite.com/?utm_campaign=promo&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=web_paid_ppc&utm_content=banner"). This makes it easy to analyze specific campaigns and differentiate between paid and non-paid UTM traffic.

Referrer fields should be used to analyze general traffic trends if UTM data isn't available. Since many new browsers might block referrer data, you'll often see a lot of "direct" 'referrer type' traffic. This can mean there was no referrer data for the pageview visit.

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If you're on Woopra's Pro plan, you can also create Custom Action Schema Properties that can combine campaign data and referrer data using Formulas. For example, we could create a formula that says, if campaign data exists for a recorded pageview event, use 'campaign source' and if not, use the 'referrer type'. If you need helps with formulas, please reach out to our support team and we'll be happy to assist in creating these.

Breakdown of Woopra Campaign and Referrer fields

Woopra Field

Description

Example

Referrer Type

Uses the most recent referrer for an action. Uses the referrer URL to determine the "type"

direct, internal, search, backlink, social, email, PPC

First Referrer Type

Saves the first ever referrer type recorded for the user

direct, internal, search, backlink, social, email, PPC

Referrer URL

Uses the most recent referrer URL for an action if available

https://www.somepage.com

Campaign Name

Extracts 'utm_campaign=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. The name of the campaign.

campaign xyz

Campaign Source

Extracts 'utm_source=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. Typically where the ad was displayed.

google, facebook, instagram, etc.

Campaign Medium

Extracts 'utm_medium=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. Typically the type of ad.

web, paid, email, tweet, etc.

Campaign Content

Extracts 'utm_content=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. Typically used if running similar ads.

topbanner, rightsidebanner, specific_location, temporarysale, etc.

Campaign Term

Extracts 'utm_term=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. Typically associated with Google Adwords or search/keyword terms.

running+shoes, journey+analytics, coffee+cups, etc.

Campaign ID

Extracts 'utm_id=' from the pageview URI that Woopra records. Some campaigns might have an ID

id_xyz

First Campaign Name, Source, Medium, etc.

Saves the first recorded visit that contained UTM tags. Note that the first ever visit from a user might not have UTM tags, but this will still record the first instance if there is one later on.

See above examples.

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Notes:

Campaign data can also be associated with other events other than pageview events such as some email events or other custom actions. This will depend on how you're sending these events to Woopra.