Just like Winter, and the inevitable bloodbath at the end of each season, in Game of Thrones, Final URL Migration is coming to AdWords, are you prepared?
The reasons behind this change are explained very well in this post by Larry Kim on Wordstream. The current situation and the coming change are summarised in the first two paragraphs:
What Are Destination URLs?
A Destination URL is simply the address of your webpage people reach when they click one of your ads. The way it’s worked until now is that AdWords ad and keyword tracking relied on the Destination URL, which was made up of the landing page URL and tracking parameters.
If you wanted to adjust your tracking for any reason, you had to update the Destination URL, which sent your ads back to editorial review. Your ads would stop running during this review and whatever information was tied to the old URL was lost.
This upgrade basically splits the Destination URL into two parts – you can now enter the landing page portion of the URL and the tracking information separately. It’s so much easier and more convenient! Changing your tracking parameters at any level except the ad level doesn’t trigger a review, your ads don’t have to stop running, and you can update your tracking at the account, campaign or ad group level without seeing your ad stats go down the drain.
The article goes on to explain pretty well the process of splitting tracking parameters and the page you actually want people to land into two separate parts, however more technical information is also available on the Google help centre.
One thing to note at this stage is that if you don’t use third party tracking or include specific value parameters in your destination URLs, your ads will be migrated over from destination URL to Final URL automatically from July 2015 onwards. However, because this will result in your ads being reset en mass, you may want to plan a schedule for migrating them manually, to avoid too much disruption to your account happening at once.
Also, Google reps are currently sending out ominous-sounding emails to advertisers warning of potential backlogs on approval of up to three months if you wait until July for the auto-upgrade!!
These ads are being sent out after an automatic scan of advertiser’s accounts which includes removed emails, so if you are looking through your currently enabled ads and you thought they had all been migrated to Final URL, it is worth checking all ads including removed to find which ads triggered list you received at the bottom of the email. After reaching out to the Google rep for Reef Digital, I have been assured that having removed ads which are not migrated to the new Final URL system will not have any kind of impact on accounts.
As usual with Google, there are also some edge cases where the information in the help centre is not particularly helpful. One of these is the use of tracking software which spits out a URL to input into ad copy that in fact instigates a redirect to a url on your domain which will include all the tracking parameters the software needs.
In this case, the parameters are added dynamically at the point of redirect by the software in question, so obviously it is not possible to split them from the URL you put into the Final URL box of your AdWords ad.
The answer to this is covered in Google’s editorial guidelines:
Redirects: You can use a redirect for tracking purposes as long as your destination or final URL redirects to a page within the same domain as your display URL.
This will effectively work the same as if you are entering a page on your own domain without any tracking parameters at the end of the URL, as the redirect will be taking people to a page on your domain.
If you have any questions about URL Migration in AdWords, feel free to contact us here or let me know the issue in the comments section below.