Off-Again-On-Again: Facebook Brings back URL Dynamic Parameters

Facebook ads has done it again.

After URL Parameters were suddenly removed from Facebook Ads in March of 2018, this cornerstone of ad tracking has been in a serious case of on-again-off-again over the last few months.

So, can you use Dynamic URL Parameters, and are they going to help you make better ads?

The answer to both, is yes.

What are Dynamic URL Parameters?

Dynamic URL Parameters are one of the greatest assets that online advertisers have access to. They allow you to reuse the same tracking snippet for all your ads, and have the ad platform (Facebook, Google and Bing) populate the values in real time.

With Dynamic URL Parameters, when you add the following to your ad:

utm_campaign={{campaign.name}}&utm_content={{ad.name}}

It turns into a link like this when someone clicks on it:

utm_campaign=webinar-campaign-2018&utm_content=blue-ad-with-yellow-logo

And when you check your metrics in Google Analytics or SegMetrics, these values will have been dynamically filled in so that you can see which campaign and ad name generated traffic or conversions on your website.

This lets you track the performance of all your ads, without setting up complicated tracking spreadsheets.

(And even cooler? When you use URL Parameters on a boosted post, they update all the links that are in your post as well)

Why did Dynamic URLs Disappear?

The timing of the Dynamic URLs’ disappearance seems to coincide with the flak that Facebook was getting over the Cambridge Analytica issues, and the senate hearings that Zuckerberg attended.

The original help article about Dynamic URLs was scrubbed, and there were numerous threads both on Reddit and the Facebook developer forums about the issue.

Good News: Dynamic URL Parameters are back.

And since Facebook has reinstated a limited version of the feature, we can see what has been taken out of the Dynamic URL feature to get a glimpse at the issue.

It looks like two features were removed, which were probably why they disappeared in the first place.

  • Ad.source – This showed whether the ad was being displayed on Facebook or Instagram, and was a great way to see where traffic was really coming from.
  • Ignoring Name Updates – This is a little stranger, and may have to do with performance rather than security issues. Dynamic Ad names will be set to whatever the original name of the ad or campaign is, even if you change them later.

So, Can I Use Dynamic URLs Now?

Facebook says YES, and to be honest, I would love to wholeheartedly recommend them as well.

Dynamic URLs are a core part of improving your ad tracking, and lets you easily track the performance of all your lead sources, without having to manage separate spreadsheets of every ad and campaign that you have running.

In fact, here’s our recommended URL Parameter that will allow you the most flexible ad-tracking setup through Google Analytics and SegMetrics:

utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign={{campaign.name}}&utm_content={{ad.name}}&utm_term={{adset.name}}&ad_id={{ad.id}}

However, Facebook has already pulled the rug out from under us once with Dynamic URLs, and to have all our ads suddenly stop tracking can be a huge blow to our marketing, and one that we wouldn’t notice until days or weeks later.


What do you think? Are Dynamic URLs trustworthy enough to use in production?

PS. Ironically, at the time of writing this article, the Help Doc for Dyanmic URLs is down again.