Introducing Parallel Tracking

A seemingly minor yet impactful change for your advertising tracking and reporting.

With Google’s October 30, 2018 changes to Google Ads, parallel tracking is now a mandatory feature. This feature loads website pages quicker by running all click measurements in the background as users are directed to the landing page. In other words, these processes work simultaneously versus sequentially, which had previously caused longer page load times. As such,  parallel tracking could potentially minimize lost visits thus increasing conversion rates. Right now, this feature is exclusive to Google Ads for Search and Shopping campaigns. Starting March 2019, Display campaigns will also switch to parallel tracking.

Checklist

Here are some nuances to keep in mind and prepare for:

  1. Third Party Tracking: Parallel tracking works only with server-level redirects and secure URLs. If you are using third party tracking, ensure that all URLs in tracking are redirecting chain support HTTPS (not on-page redirects).
  2. Parameters: Parameters appended with {lpurl} will no longer work. If you are using templates to append static parameters to URLs (for example, utm-parameters or any other type of non-gclid parameters), add all necessary parameters in the “finalUrl” or “finalUrlSuffix” fields.
  3. Macro Compatibility: As a user of Search Ads 360, keep in mind that some macros (all Campaign Manager and several Search Ads macros) will no longer be supported. This means that account configurations also need to be changed – tracking parameters can be moved and unsupported macros can be deleted. You can run “Compatibility checker” and “URL test” reports to make sure everything is working properly.
  4. Migration: You need to “migrate” your SA360 accounts to support parallel tracking (specific URL parameters will be created in Final URL Suffix fields and the system also needs to migrate custom parameters). Accounts created in SA360 after September 20, 2018 don’t need to be fully migrated, as they were initially created as compatible with parallel tracking. Here’s a helpful reference for how to get your account ready.
  5. Changing Parameters: If you still have Standard or Dynamic Standard ads in your search campaigns, it would be impossible to change their parameters or macros. You will need to recreate these ads as Expanded ones.
  6. Suffix: If you copy your Google Ads campaign into different engine in SA360, Final URL Suffixes will not be copied.
  7. Custom Parameters: If your automated rules, formula columns and scheduled edits contain SA360 macros, you will need to change them to custom parameters because macros will no longer be supported.
  8. Status: Keep in mind that after all the changes in parameters are made, your URLs will automatically change ads’ status to “In review”. The good news is that all your ads will still run before the updated version is moderated – it will just be the older version.
  9. Version History: Google added a very useful tool called “Version history”, allowing you to see all previous versions of your ad with performance data.

Conclusion

This list is not exhaustive. There are more parallel tracking-related changes being rolled out in Google Ads and Search Ads. It is definitely worth checking the documentation for the platform(s) you use for all the details.

All in all, there is nothing to fear – the new changes will not break your advertising, they will only benefit it. Now is the perfect time to revise your Google Ads and/or Search Ads 360 configurations; think of it as New Year’s housekeeping. Make your adjustments based on the new requirements soon!

For further information about parallel tracking, check out these resources: