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Short Term Pain, Long Term Gain. Google Adwords Upgraded URLs

Do you remember when every time you submitted AdWords URL changes, they sent your ads into editorial review and all your ad history, stats and Quality Scores were lost? Well, those days are gone now, which we are nerdily excited about!

This month, Google announced a major change to landing page management in AdWords. Here at iProspect Dublin, we've welcomed this change with open arms: it will not only make it easier for advertisers to add or change tracking code and redirects without resorting to huge bulk uploads but will also reduce the number of times Google’s crawler checks and rechecks landing pages.

Under the current Destination URL system, Google is unable to tell if a change in tracking code altered the final landing page—so each time an advertiser changes their tracking code, Google re-crawls every single altered URL.

With Upgraded URLs, Google will be able to tell when a change to a URL merely updates the tracking code and does not change the final landing page. This means much less redundant recrawling of unchanged landing pages, reducing inaccurate disapprovals and decreasing the load on both Google’s crawler and the advertiser’s site. Pretty awesome, right?

So what's changed?

With this new change, the landing page URL and the tracking parameters that make up the destination URL will be treated as two parts: you can now enter the landing page portion of the URL and the tracking information separately. *Bear in mind that redirecting to a third-party domain remains a no-no. 

This separation means that making changes to your tracking (at the account, campaign or ad group level) won’t trigger a review and your ads won’t have to stop running.

Forced migration

For the time being upgraded URLs are optional but after July 1st all Destination URLs will automatically become Final URLs;


The Ad URL Options section is where you’ll find the ability to scale your tracking changes with the new tracking template and custom parameter fields.

The benefit here is that you can manage the tracking parameters separately across various levels of your account without having to reset your ad performance stats.

Tracking templates are where you enter your tracking information and tell AdWords how to assemble your URLs. Now, if you’d like to scale your tracking updates across multiple URLs, you can use a shared tracking template at the account, campaign or ad group level. If you’d prefer to manage your URL tracking information at the individual URL level, you can use a tracking template at the ad, keyword, or sitelink level. In other words, the tracking template creates a new address people will click through to go to your site.

Custom parameters let you customize the information you’d like to monitor as well as the specific values that get inserted into your URLs when your ad clicks are triggered. For example, if you’d like to insert the value 12345 whenever this specific ad is clicked, you can set the custom parameter {_mycreative} in this ad.

New insights

Google says that as part of this upgrade we gain access to many new insights about our clicks. What kind of insights exactly, though? Well, new ValueTrack Parameters include location tracking!

New ValueTrack parameters will let us track how many clicks were triggered for our ad by location (simply add {loc_physical_ms} ValueTrack parameter).  Also, with the addition of this new ValueTrack parameter, bid management platforms will be able to update their bidding algorithms to make full use of this geographic bid modifier—which we predict will drastically increase its adoption.

tracking template

So what else is changing?

The {copy} ValueTrackparameter is being deprecated and will not be supported by Upgraded URLs.
There’s more information on how to create a new tracking template and/or custom parameter available at Google’s Help Centre.

Where to next?

Google encourage advertisers who use tracking in their URLs to upgrade to the new system by July 1, 2015 when this change will be pushed through to all advertisers. However, before jumping on that wagon, we suggest you get familiar with Google’s URL Upgrade Guide first.

Why, you ask? Well because, unless you are ready to lose your stats, if you start manually upgrading at the ad level today your stats will be reset and your ads will be sent back for review. We highly recommend you triple check what type of advertiser you are and which upgrade method you should use.

The iProspect Dublin team will be reaching out to clients over the coming weeks with a migration plan that takes into account all tracking and redirect needs for their AdWords strategy to ensure a smooth transition.

While the initial change to this new URL format will require planning and careful implementation, the benefits of easier tracking code management and reduced landing page crawling will in the long-term outweigh the short-term hassle of yet another AdWords mandatory upgrade.

If you have any questions, feel free to chat to Marta on Twitter @makingdigiwaves or iProspect Dublin @iProspectIRL.