Using Parallel Tracking to Drive Growth in a Mobile-First World

Delivering a positive user experience in today’s digital economy is becoming even more important. While a second may seem like an insignificant amount of time, it can have a negative impact on conversion rates. According to Google, having a one second delay in page load time can decrease conversions by up to 20%. In addition, as page load time goes from one to five seconds, the probability of bounces increases by 90%.

Alongside features such as AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and the Mobile Speed Scoreboard, Parallel Tracking is Google’s latest advertising tool to improve page speed performance. It can reduce lost visits and can lead to increased conversions and improved ad performance. Google has stated that, since its launch advertisers have been able to reduce page load time by up to five seconds.

What is Parallel Tracking?

Advertisers are now able to send users directly from an ad to the final landing page, by processing click measurement in the background while the page loads. This advertising tool changes the way click measurement takes place when using third-party platforms, such as Marin, Search Ads 360 or Kenshoo, that rely on redirects outside the Google ecosystem.

How Does Click Tracking Work?

Advertisers who are using Google Ads click tracking system, should specify their landing page URLs in the FinalUrls, FinalMobileUrls or FinalAppUrls, depending on the ad type and network. Once users click on an advertiser’s ad, they are taken directly to the landing page URL.

If advertisers use custom click tracking (i.e. third-party platforms), then a tracking server URL needs to be specified. At serving time, users click on an ad and then sent to an intermediate landing page first (tracking server). Following this, they are redirected to the final landing page URL. This process is called linear or sequential tracking.

How Does Parallel Tracking Work?

Despite the redirects of sequential tracking being invisible to users, they can negatively impact the user experience by decreasing the page load time.

As mentioned above, with parallel tracking users are taken directly to the landing page URL, whilst click measurements (tracking URL) are loading in the background. This means that users are not sent to the tracking URLs. Users are landing directly to the final landing page, ultimately improving user experience and increasing conversion rates.

From the new tracking system, mobile landing pages on slower browsers are the ones likely to see the highest impact. For users on desktop or faster browsers, the increased loading speed will likely be unnoticeable.

Finally, Google Ads will be extending the parallel tracking update to Display and Video campaigns, effective in March 2019. This update means that advertisers will now be able to take advantage of parallel tracking in all campaign types; search, shopping, display and video.