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How to Prepare for July’s Upcoming AdWords Changes: Managing Ad URLs

Back in April, we published a post about some updates that Google made to their search algorithm this Spring. Well, Google is at it again — but this time, they’ll be making some much-needed changes to Adwords URLs. According to Google, they “are introducing Upgraded URLs to provide an easier and faster way to manage and track important information about each click on your AdWords ads.” While Google has already begun rolling these changes out, advertisers can expect to see a forced migration on July 1.

This new update addresses a previously troublesome issue: in the past, altering the tracking parameters on a Destination URL would trigger a re-review of the ad, which would stop the ad from running and cause advertisers to lose valuable time and data. This often prevented advertisers from altering ads at all for fear of losing their tracking history and Quality Scores.

Google’s new Adwords update will make this a thing of the past, while also providing a number of benefits for advertisers:

  • less time spent managing URL tracking updates
  • reduced website crawl and load times
  • new ValueTrack parameters that can provide additional insights into your ads (more on this later)
  • the ability to change custom tracking parameters for a group of URLs all in one place, without re-setting ad stats.

What’s Changing?

Currently, Destination URLs in Adwords are made up of two main components: the landing page URL (the URL that your audience sees after clicking on your ad) and tracking (redirects, ValueTrack Parameters, custom creative IDs). For example, the Destination URL “www.example.com?creative=54321” includes both the landing page (www.example.com) and the tracking information (?creative=54321).

With Destination URLs, an update to the tracking means an update to the entire URL. This will be going away with the introduction of Upgraded URLs, which will allow you to enter your landing page and tracking information separately.

Now, you’ll see two separate fields for this information: the Final URL, where you’ll enter your landing page information, and optional tracking templates, where you can input additional tracking information. You can see how this will look in the screenshots below:

adwordsURLs2-01

advanced-ad-url-options

The folks at Wordstream have made an important note about this update: “Final URLs will need to match the domain of your display URL or your ad may be disapproved. According to Google, your final URL can still contain redirects within that domain.”

With Upgraded URLs, you can scale tracking updates to multiple URLs by using a shared tracking template at the account, campaign, or ad group level. You will still have the option to update ads individually by using a tracking template at the ad, keyword, or sitelink level.

An Added Bonus: New ValueTrack Parameters

In addition to the deprecation of Destination URLs, advertisers will also be able to gain greater insights into their ad clicks using new ValueTrack parameters. ValueTrack — which is not a new feature in and of itself — appends tracking values to your ad’s landing page URLs so that you can record certain details about your ads. One of the most notable of these updates is the addition of a location-tracking parameter ( {loc_physical_ms} ), which will show you how many clicks on your ad were triggered by location.

What This Means for You

Google is encouraging all advertisers who use tracking in their URLs to upgrade to this new system by July 1, at which point URLs will update to the new structure automatically. If you use a tracking platform to manage your URLs, be sure to reach out to them to touch base on these upcoming changes.

Here are a few helpful resources as you prepare: