Battle of the clickTAGs for Flash ad click throughs.

First, a bit of background.  Flash banner ads are usually click-able.  Because the publishing site (ie network TV sites, online newspapers, etc) usually uses a third party ad system to serve and track banner ads, the destination URL for any click through is not hard coded into the SWF (Flash ad).  It is dynamically injected into the ad at runtime with the use of a “clickTAG” parameter in the object HTML.  The ad system handles the pairing of the ad and its accompanying clickTAG URL.

I make a fair amount of Flash banner ads for Grady Britton clients.  I’ve noticed a an annoyance that should be easily solved.  At some point since the invention of the clickTAG, there was a division on the correct case of “tag” in “clickTAG”.  Some publishers require that the variable name be “clickTag”, and others insist that it be named “clickTAG”.

Why does this matter?  It turns out that some of the third party ad systems are case sensitive when it comes to the use of clickTAG.  For me, that translates into creating 2 versions of every ad, one who’s code respects “clickTag”, and the other for “clickTAG”.

image of Adobe recommended clickTAG ActionScriptSure, I could write a simple switch to test which version exists and set accordingly, but the publishers employ QA folks armed with Flash decompilers. If the ActionScript that the decompiler reveals (which by the way, is rarely the actual ActionScript as written by the designer) does not exactly match the structure as required by QA, they won’t run the ad, regardless of whether or not it will work.

So, if the ad serving companies aren’t going to stick to “clickTAG” as recommended by Adobe, then let us designer/developers switch and validate the parameter without QA throwing up red flags because the ActionScript doesn’t look the same as the reference manual.  Creating one off versions of the ads to deal a basic case sensitivity issue is just silly, especially if it can be solved for all future projects with a few lines of ActionScript.

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  • http://www.bannerflow.com Tom Buchok

    Dayn,

    As the interactive producer at an agency, I feel you 100% on this.

    A few months ago I did some searching on the “tag” vs. “TAG” vs. “Tag” discrepancy — turns out that pre-Flash 6 (or something), ActionScript wasn’t case-sensitive. So designers/developers could use any variation of the work “clicktag” successfully.

    No matter how I hard I try, I seldom am successful sending bug-free banners to publisher sites.

    We did build a simple clicktag tester that can help before trafficking banner ads, check it out:

    http://www.bannerflow.com/clicktest/

  • http://www.flashclicktag.com/ Joe

    Actually, it’s newer versions of Flash that treat URL parameter names case sensitively that is the source of the problem.

  • http://www.daynw.com admin

    Thanks for the comments, Tom and Joe.

    Tom, I’m using Banner Flow so clients can proof and reference banner versions now. Thanks!

    If you’ve need a clickTAG tutorial, check out Joe’s at http://www.flashclicktag.com.

    Joe’s method works great too, but I personally prefer to use a Button movie type with a rectangle in just the Hit frame to make a clear button. When you finish editing the button and return to the stage, this causes Flash to show an icy, semi-transparent blue in the shape of your clickTAG button so you don’t lose track of it. You can also isolate the clear button on a layer, and hide the layer if the icy blue is in your way.

    Again, thanks for the tips guys.

  • http://www.clicktager.com clickTAGer

    yeh, old $%##$ clicktag syntax problem. ;)
    It’s ok when sites/publishers/networks have 2 different clickTAG/Tags
    But sometimes…. sites have ClickTag or clicktag. :)

  • http://chrisbenjaminsen.com Chris Benjaminsen

    This is rather easy to solve if we assume that we are using AS2 as per your example.

    As the click tag is parsed using flashvars it shows up as an attribute on _root, hence we can refer to it via _root.clickTag or _root.clickTAG

    Additionally reading an undeclared attribute on an object in AS2 just return undefined. Hence we can ensure that our favorite casing is declared using the below code.

    _root.clickTag = (_root.clickTag || _root.clickTAG)

    As || is lazy evaluated, clickTag is set to clickTAG if clickTag is undeclared.

    getURL(_root.clickTag || _root.clickTAG) can also be used directly if you want more inline code.

    Last but not least any number of clicktags can be daisy chained using || should one which so. A cool trick is to insert an url you navigate to if a click tag is not defined.

    getURL(_root.clickTag || _root.clickTAG || _root.ClickTag || _root.clicktag || “http://example.com/error.html”)

    /Chris

  • http://www.daynw.com admin

    Thanks for the comment, Chris. That’s a great way to cover the bases for sure. Unfortunately, it seems that there are sometimes QA people looking for specific lines of code, regardless of our brilliant scripting. Whether it works or not, your ads can be rejected as improperly formatted because your script doesn’t match what they’re trained to look for.

    It’s almost like we need a clickTag standards project, can you believe it?

  • http://www.hd-report.com Jeff C

    Has anyone tried to use clickTAG with WordPress? I tried displaying some Flash ads on several versions of WordPress and they don’t work. Meaning, the Flash animation works, and the ad is clickable, but when clicked a “not found” comes up within the site.

    Not sure how to resolve – any ideas?

  • http://www.clicktager.com clickTAGer

    to Chris:
    This solution isn’t right for some ad-networks, ad-server backend checks code of swf file. If server see different clicktag code version for example getURL(clickTAG,”_blank”) instead of getURL(_root.clickTAG,”_blank”) – server rejects file with error message. As you see some networks don’t see that getURL function is on root level and warns about it. In this case QA stage returns files back to producers :(

    to Jeff C:
    What kind of WP plugin?

  • JohnB

    Thanks, this came in handy.

  • http://iguide.travel iGuide

    Anyone know how to deal with more than one clickTAG? Or is it clickTag? I’m getting all sorts of variations from advertisers and this still seems like a foreign language to me.

  • http://www.daynw.com/ admin

    Thanks for the comments, Tom and Joe.

    Tom, I'm using Banner Flow so clients can proof and reference banner versions now. Thanks!

    If you've need a clickTAG tutorial, check out Joe's at http://www.flashclicktag.com.

    Joe's method works great too, but I personally prefer to use a Button movie type with a rectangle in just the Hit frame to make a clear button. When you finish editing the button and return to the stage, this causes Flash to show an icy, semi-transparent blue in the shape of your clickTAG button so you don't lose track of it. You can also isolate the clear button on a layer, and hide the layer if the icy blue is in your way.

    Again, thanks for the tips guys.

  • SL

    Just seen this now making me lough laugh. I'm actually the actual person who proposed and -to no say- invented this tracking solution back 9 years ago: clickTag was selected, but some mistyping documents came up with clickTAG instead. Since then, it is as you said the clicktag war.

  • http://daynw.com Dayn

    Thanks for commenting, SL. Funny! If you are, in fact, the Grandfather of the quickTAG, then which do you prefer? Do you have an opinion as to which is “proper”? Was clickTag selected because of the CamelBack notation? We'd love to see those original proposal docs!

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ video seo

    You do not need a big advertising company to serve the banners, you can host all files on your website. … Easily add

  • http://firstpagegoogleresults.com/ video seo

    Always check for the preview and click through on the ad server before going to make .This battle of ad dominance is marked by the ongoing and expensive display ad templates, which are trafficked just like any other Flash ad .

  • Jon

    I've been fighting this for a year or two now that people are starting to use fp9/as3 banners. I've posted my clicktag solution, sometimes it flies, sometimes clients respond with the ol' as2 3 liner they get emailed in excel docs…

    http://snipplr.com/view/36597/as3-clicktag–wor…

  • Nadine

    i work as a designer at a digital agency and we use http://www.bannerflow.com for all the banner productions we got to do. BF is much faster for creating clicktags than Flash. i assume that flash will no longer resist if they dont come up with something new.