Google Ads Parallel Tracking – How it Works

- August 29, 2018

Why Should I Care About Parallel Tracking

It is important to be aware of the new parallel tracking feature because it will be the required, primary tracking method for browsers that support it at the end of October 2018.

Reference: https://developers.google.com/Google Ads/api/docs/guides/click-tracking

Parallel tracking will have an impact on services that route Google Ads clicks through their own server prior to sending them to their final destination (landing page). There are a couple users that may be impacted by this if they use multiple levels of redirection on their ads. If your business relies on redirects to add query string parameters to your landing page then you may need to adjust your tracking strategy when parallel tracking is activated.

What is Google Ads Parallel Tracking

The new Google Ads experience has been built to shorten the amount of time redirecting traffic to a web page takes.

Below is an example of a parallel tracking process:

  1. Google Ads click tracker loads
  2. Tracking URL loads
  3. If you use more than one click tracker, additional redirects may load in parallel

Below is an example of what a non-parallel tracking process looks like:

  1. Google Ads click tracker loads
  2. Tracking URL loads
  3. Possible additional tracking URL loads
  4. Customer sees your landing page

This should create a better user experience and close the gap between clicks and pageviews in analytics

Technical Requirements for Parallel Tracking

Before you Begin

Before activating parallel tracking, it is important to make sure that the Google Ads settings and the website server are completely compatible. If parallel tracking is set up improperly then it can cause errors for click measurement or even break the landing page. Changes may need to be made to the tracking template.

Leverage Auto Tagging in Google Ads

Auto Tagging is the best way to connect Google Ads data with Google Analytics, this is critical to tying Google Ads keywords and campaigns to Google Analytics metrics and goals.

Redirects

Parallel tracking only supports server level redirects like all of the HTTP status codes for 3xx redirects. There is a table of acceptable redirects below (be sure to consult with your SEO specialist before deploying your redirects)

For optimal results with parallel tracking, it is important to check that your tracking server uses HTTPS and that any redirects that are set up also use HTTPS. It is also necessary to remove any JavaScript redirects from your tracking experience.

Auto HTTPs Rewrite

Google Ads will always rewrite the first tracking call from an ad to HTTPS if it is not already written as such. If your website is doesn’t have a security certificate then it will need to redirect to the non-secure version of the site. This highlights the need to upgrade to HTTPS for any late comers.

Per-click IDs

Some third party tracking servers include a per-click ID in the ad URL to be stored as data by the website later. If this is the case for you, then you may need to re-think your strategy. This will not be possible since the call to the tracking server will not be forwarded to the website.

As a workaround it will be possible to use auto-tagging in the customer account and collect the GCLID (Google Click Identifier) parameter which will continue to work. Google Ads has a ValueTrack parameter specifically for GCLID which may be helpful as well.

Landing Page Parameter

The final URL will now always be retrieved from Google Ads and loaded directly into the browser when a user clicks an ad, it will no longer be possible for any click trackers to modify landing page URL parameters during the click time redirect. Any parameters that need to be passed to the final website URL need to be entered directly in the “finalUrlSuffix” field in Google Ads. This parameter is supported in all entities that work with the “trackingUrlTemplate”.

Parallel Tracking Indicator

If the tracker URL is called using the parallel tracking option, Google Ads will append a “gb=1” parameter to the URL. You can use this parameter to identify parallel tracking calls in tracking solutions.

Wrapping Up

Ultimately it is important for you to work with your team to spread awareness of this change to Google Ads. MoreVisibility has deep experience with correcting tracking issues in Google Ads and is a Google Premium Partner, so if you have questions about auditing your platform please reach out for a Complimentary Consultation.

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