How to track web traffic from print ads

How to Track Web Traffic From Print AdsWe’ve recently been approached by a NGO that was running a print ad in the local newspaper to promote a fundraising event. The organization, while promoting their marathon via a QR code, needed to know how many people ended up on their website using the redirect URL (server-side redirect from a non-existent web page) embedded into their QR code that was published in the newspaper.

In case anyone has run into a similar task and needed to figure out a way to track visits from a redirect, we have an easy solution.

Let’s presume that we have a QR code URL www.site.com/printad, and it needs to redirect to www.site.com/fundraising-marathon/index.php.

The redirect www.site.com/printad is setup using an .htaccess file or some other server side method for permanent redirects. The tricky part is that we need to track visits to www.site.com/fundraising-marathon/index.php from www.site.com/printad without having a physical page at www.site.com/printad/index.php. The solution is to use Google’s URL Builder tool to properly tag your redirected URL.

There are 3 steps that need to be done:

  1. Generate a url using the Google URL Builder tool. Your url should look something similar to: http://www.site.com/fundraising-marathon/index.php?utm_source=NewYorkTimes&utm_medium=PrintAd&utm_campaign=QRCode
  2. How to Track Print Ads Online

  3. For your server-side redirect, point www.site.com/printad to go to http://www.site.com/fundraising-marathon/index.php?utm_source=NewYorkTimes&utm_medium=PrintAd&utm_campaign=QRCode
  4. Once the redirect is setup and people come to your site, you can go into your Google Analytics and navigate to TRAFFIC SOURCES > SOURCES > CAMPAIGNS and get the data that you need.

Google Analytics QR code campaign tracking

Another way to track visits from a QR code URL that is redirecting to your site is to use a URL shortening service (e.g. bit.ly). The disadvantage of this method is that if you need to print the url on your newspaper ad, the url will look something similar to www.bit.ly/myad and will not have your website’s domain name branding.

Do you know of any alternative methods of how to track print ads online? Please share them in the comments area.

Author: Oleksiy Synelnychenko

Oleksiy is the founder of ArtDriver. He oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends. In his spare time, Oleksiy enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with his family.