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How does Google's parallel tracking affect me?

You don't know how parallel tracking will affect your Google Ads setup? Here's all you need to know.

There's been a lot of confusion around parallel tracking and you're probably reading this article to find out how the update will affect your Google Ads setup.

I felt the same way and even though Google provides multiple articles on this topic, the relevant information is scattered across various sources. So, I got in touch with the support team at Google Ads and summarized my findings in this post.

To start with the good news, we're all going to benefit from parallel tracking. I mean, let's face it, no matter how tempting your ad copy and how stylish your landing page if your site doesn't load in the blink of an eye, you're going to lose people's attention. Not to mention the precious ad dollars you're pouring down the drain. Parallel tracking to the rescue!

Google's newest attempt at speeding up the internet reduces page load time, so visitors can engage with your website more quickly, resulting in fewer bounces and more conversion opportunities.

Sounds great, right? Well...unfortunately, there's also a tiny downside. Parallel tracking can potentially f*** up both, your tracking and your landing page since it affects the visitor's final URL. So, while in theory, it is a very elegant solution, you might need to make some adjustments to your Google Ads setup. Let me give you an example of when control over the final URL is important.

With Unless.com, you can dynamically inject keywords into your landing page that match the ad someone clicked on. So, instead of juggling dozens of landing pages, one for each ad, you just create one landing page and Unless makes sure that its content aligns with the ad your visitor clicked on.

Unless dynamic content insertion with utms

Sounds magical, but it follows a simple setup. Unless "reads" the URL parameters attached to the ad and changes the landing page using Javascript. But here's where it gets tricky. The changes only happen if the URL parameters are attached to the final URL and as the name "parallel tracking" suggests, that's not always the case.

What's parallel tracking?

Parallel tracking speeds up page load by running third-party trackers in the background instead of redirecting the user. parallel google ads-1200

Clicking an ad will result in the browser issuing two parallel requests (one to the landing page and one to the ad click measurement server). So, if you're using tools that dynamically attach URL parameters on redirect, those will no longer work.

How to attach URL parameters to your URL under parallel tracking

There's been a lot of confusion and uncertainty around parallel tracking but the good news is that you most likely don't need to lift a finger. If you have been using a tracking template on ad group, campaign, or account level to add URL parameters you're good to go. Whether they're custom parameters or UTMs, Google Ads will continue to attach those to your visitor's final URL.

Google template Unless1 2

Additionally, Google Ads introduced the field "final URL suffix". To quote Google;

"The Final URL suffix is a new field where the user can define an additional parameter to be appended to the end of the final landing page URL. The text input into the Final URL Suffix will be appended to the landing page URL. This suffix is useful for advertisers (vs adding the text directly to the final landing page URL) because it can be updated on the ad group, campaign, or account level."

So, who's affected by the changes, you wonder? It's anyone who redirects visitors to a tracking domain before sending them to the ad's final URL. Those tools dynamically attach tracking parameters or cookies during the redirect, but, as the name parallel tracking suggests, those redirects are no longer supported.

So, there you have it. As long as you're not redirecting visitors before showing the final URL, you're good to go. If you're using a click measurement provider that uses redirects (such as Marin or Kenshoo), get in touch with them. Most likely, they will ask you to add some new parameters via the final URL suffix. It's going to be a bit of work but luckily it is possible to edit the suffix in bulk via AWN, Bulk Sheets, and AdWords Editor 12.4.

For Unless customers, the parallel tracking doesn't require any updates since we work with UTM parameters and custom parameters added via the tracking template, or the final URL suffix. If you have any questions about personalized landing pages, please get in touch with our support team via info@unless.com.