External Marketing Variables

External MVs are used to track inbound traffic to your website | web application.

External MVs are assigned by adding query params to clickable links: like text links, or images.  If you don't use query params, Angelfish uses other information to populate the External MVs.

To paraphrase, External MVs are either:
  • Declared: assigned with query params
  • Automatic: no query params present

There are 5 variables you can use to assign External MVs. 
  • External Source
  • External Medium
  • External Campaign
  • External Variation
  • External Keyword

With Declared MVs, 3 of these variables are always required: Source, Medium, Campaign

External MV Terms

EXTERNAL SOURCE - agfs - Required

This refers to the website on which an ad is placed, or the overall referring entity.  If the ExternalSource is an email, we recommend adding a YYYYMMDD date component to the ExternalSource - this allows you to sort ExternalSources by send date in the reports.

ExternalSource examples are:
  • sales.intranet.corp.com   (company sales portal)
  • mediavine     (an ad network)
  • 20211001-fishreport    (Angelfish email newsletter, sent Oct 1, 2021)

EXTERNAL MEDIUM - agfm - Required

The ExternalMedium describes the type of ad, like an email, banner ad, or a text link.  For example:
  • email
  • banner
  • text-link
  • cpc
  • social

The ExternalMedium reports are most useful when the fewest options are used.  For example, it's best to use one ExternalMedium for "email" instead of multiple options (like e-mail, emailnews, e_mail, newsletter).

The Automatic Mediums are described in "Automatic Values: Medium" in the Pro Tips section, near the end of this article.

EXTERNAL CAMPAIGN - agfc - Required

The External Campaign variable allows you to stitch initiatives together by a common thread.  You can use the ExternalCampaign variable however you choose - common uses are for a product/service or for a seasonal promotion:
  • 2022-summer
  • open-enrollment
  • recruiting
  • womens-collection

Similar to ExternalMedium, the ExternalCampaign reports are most useful when the fewest options are used.


The ExternalVariation allows you to identify different versions of images, links, ad placements, etc.  For example, the ExternalVariation is used to differentiate between multiple links in a marketing email:
  • top-banner-bogo
  • body-text-www.yoursite.com
  • footer-300x150-flashgame

We recommend using a "location-type-description" format for ExternalVariations.
"bottom-button-rsvp" is easier to understand than "v98423".  


When Declared, this variable is used for Paid Search marketing, and should reference the bid term for a specific ad.  The value used with this parameter will show up in the ExternalKeywords reports.

When not declared (i.e. Automatic), the ExternalKeywords variable stores search phrases used on other websites that led people to your website via an inbound link.  "Other websites" means major search engines and any website | web application that includes a search function.

Most major search engines mask the External Keyword - this is represented by "(not provided)" in Angelfish.

If you're a Google AdWords advertiser, you can use the dynamic keyword insertion function to automatically populate agfk with the bid term that triggered the ad, like this:



Here are a few examples of External MVs in action:

1) Email

Consider an email that contains 3 clickable links. Here's what the External MVs could look like for each link:


Source, Medium, and Campaign is the same for each link - this makes it easy to see the overall performance of the email in the reports.  The Variation then allows you to compare clicks each link receives.

Link Destination URL

Landing Page:

External MVs:


2) Banner Ad

A 500x150 banner ad on randomsite.com in the page footer, offering a 20% discount for the 2022 summer sale promotion.

External MVs:


Full Destination URL:


If you have already tagged links with MVs for another analytics product, you can re-use them in Angelfish without updating the tags!  The External MV params are configured in the Advanced tab of every Profile.

MVs are flexible and you can use them however you wish.  However they get out of control quickly if not managed.  Here are some lessons learned:
  • Always use lowercase
  • Never use spaces
  • Use 1 Medium for each type: e.g. email, banner, image
  • Use 1 Campaign for each type

If your External MVs get out of control, you can add a Filter to the Profile to fix them.

You can also use External MVs to track offline initiatives that drive Visitors to your website.  Print ads or radio/podcast ads can use a vanity URL, which redirects visitors to a Landing Page with MVs.


External Keyword search on a popular public search engine

Visits from another website that doesn't match the addresses in the Hostname(s) field

Visits referred from a search results page on another hostname, identified separately from the "referrer" and "organic" Mediums.

Visits referred from this website, meaning it matches the Hostname(s) field

Visits that come directly to the website OR an empty / absent referrer field in the log file
Creation date: 4/18/2022 7:05 PM      Updated: 8/29/2023 4:24 PM