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URLs and Google ads, heads up

SEM Channel Lead

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Back in February Google announced they would be rolling out a better way to manage URLs. Up until now, any updates to URLs meant ads were reset and resubmitted to Google for approvals. Not only is this often problematic in that it resets the ad history which ultimately results in a reduction in how effectively that ad performs while it tries to rebuild the history it previously had but it also means resubmitting ads for approval.

While Google typically deploys a pretty seamless approval process that sees ads approved nearly instantaneously, there are still some instances where they flag ads for manual review. We’ve often seen this happen in the highly regulated pharmaceutical space where the content of the ads is extremely sensitive.

Under the old system, any advertiser using 3rd party tracking tags on URLs would be subjected to the process of resetting the history and resubmitting ads for review anytime they want/need to change any of the tracking parameters in their ads. The idea behind this update is to allow advertisers the ability to edit their tracking parameters at will without having to resubmit ads each time they do so.

Destination URL Separated from Variables

To allow for this, Google is now breaking the URL into separate parts. Previously, the URL field (destination URL) included the final landing page URL in addition to any tracking parameters the advertiser appends to it. Changing anything in the destination URL (including tracking parameters) would require the ads to be subjected to a reset and resubmission. Now, there will be a field for the final URL and another field for tracking parameters. If the Final URL field is updated, ads are still subject to a reset & resubmission but if the tracking parameters are edited, they are not.

Example Destination URL: www.website.com?utm_source=google&utm_campaign=potato

Example Final URL: www.website.com

Example Tracking Parameters: utm_source=google, utm_campaign=potato

Mandatory Transition & Bid

Back when Google announced this update and rolled it out into accounts it was introduced as a feature that advertisers could opt into. As of right now, that’s still the case but recently we learned that beginning July 1st, Google is going to force all users to transition to this system and that the final URL field would not support 3rd party bid management tags (which look like this… https://thirdpartytracking.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fgrants).

Rest assured though, the bid management companies are aware of this and working hard on a solution and seamless transition plan for all their clients. Where the real issue lies is in that all accounts which are using any kind of 3rd party tracking (be it bid management software, web analytics or other data management programs) are potentially subjected to the resetting & resubmitting the history of all the ads in their account in order to transition.

What Does This Mean for Your Campaigns?

Google has stated that they are “working on making it possible to update destination URLs to final URLs without resetting performance stats.”

While the option is out there to start transitioning over now, until Google has confirmed that ads can be updated without the rest and the bid management companies have a transition plan in place, it makes sense to wait. If Google can indeed prevent ads from resetting then we will want to wait until that’s in place before even considering transitioning. That will in effect leave us with just one concern to deal with which is navigating through Google editorial reviews. There’s no way around this one, so we are working with our clients on an individual basis to establish transition plans allowing us to ramp back up quickly after we get ads approved and back into market.

Make a point of talking with your media teams to ensure your SEM ads have a plan moving forward.

More About the Author

Mike Ott

Mike Ott buys traffic depending on how engaged the user is and what the clients objectives are. For him, it’s all about the end result: when he can produce a profitable campaign for a client. He's been doing SEM for over a decade now and loves that the industry is constantly changing and coming out with new innovations.

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