What Is “UTM_Source” And Should You Be Worried?

You find it all the time in news stories you click into from Facebook, your email inbox, and a lot of other popular places where you hang o...



google-analytics-utm-iconYou find it all the time in news stories you click into from Facebook, your email inbox, and a lot of other popular places where you hang out. It’s a good string attached to the end in the page’s address seems something like this: “utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fanpage&utm_campaign=new+article&wa_ibsrc=fanpage.” It seems to get popping up with greater frequency, and it has been an annoyance for most. What’s it used for? Should you be concerned with the implications of this? Is it a form of tracking? We’ll take a look at what UTM is and answer any question you may have on this subject.


What Is It?


utm-tracker

UTM stood for the Urchin Traffic Monitor, that was part of a software called “Urchin WebAnalytics Software” released in 1998. Google eventually purchased its technology in 2005 and sold the application for almost seven years until it was discontinued in March 28, 2012. Although it’s no longer selling, Google will continue to use its URL conventions in their own analytics software to produce campaigns, hence the “utm” in “utm_source” and several other variables. Simply put, the “utm” variables are tracking mechanisms that help companies gauge on how successful each campaign are.


The Purpose of UTM Trackers


So, when a company is using UTM trackers (also abbreviated UTM, that's short for “Urchin Tracking Module”), you’ll click a link which leads to a good address like the one I mentioned inside introduction. If you remove all of the UTM variables, you will still arrive at the same page. The only difference is that they won’t know that you’re coming from. Companies have to know whether the campaigns they invest money and time into are in reality getting you to click their links. It’s ways to help cut expenses where they’re not needed and further test out ways of attracting new audiences.

The most common variables for UTM trackers are “source” and “medium.” The “utm_source” tells a business what site the link originally originated, as well as the “utm_medium” tells the organization what original medium was used to send the hyperlink (i.e. referral, email, instant message, etc.).


Should You Be Worried?


UTM trackers are not to become mistaken with tracking cookies. They don’t track your activity all over the Internet. They simply show what campaign attracted you to click on a particular link. The danger level this is extremely low. While you might be skeptical of any situation that tracks you, UTM trackers don’t download everything to your computer like tracking cookies do.

So, if you’re afraid of privacy infringement, there in fact is nothing to bother about with UTM trackers. They’re friendly pieces of code used by marketing purposes. The only thing that may worry you, though, is the fact that the hyperlink shows where you came from to access the page it links to.

If you’re still worried and would like to get rid of them, you can download a tracking token remover for either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.


Conclusion


As long when you click links online that you trust, you have to be fine. Even on websites online you don’t trust, UTM trackers present no opportunity to harm you by any means. In fact, for those who have a site, you should use these to discover what’s doing exercises for you and what’s just wasting your time. If you have other thoughts on this, leave a comment below!

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