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Google Ads Update: How Parallel Tracking Will Affect Your Account

Dan Baum

Account Coordinator, 7+ Years of Marketing Strategy and Guidance

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Google Ads Update: How Parallel Tracking Will Affect Your Account Blog Feature

Published on October 29th, 2018

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Earlier this year, Google Ads (formerly AdWords) introduced parallel tracking as a way to improve a user’s experience on mobile and tomorrow the change is going to become mandatory across all Google Ads accounts.

Here is what you need to know about the update and how it will affect your ad performance:

What is Parallel Tracking?

Parallel tracking is a feature that significantly improves mobile speed by performing all tracking and analytics processing separate from loading the page.

In other words, instead of a user clicking a link and waiting for the UTM codes, Google Ads click tracker, HubSpot tracking codes, and call tracking to all process, they get sent directly to the site.

Here is a great visual from Google of the experience before and after parallel tracking is implemented:

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 3.12.14 PM

All of those other tasks typically associated with a Google Ad click happen in the background so that the page can load much faster – a whole five seconds faster -- and users don’t have to stand idly by, waiting to view the content they wanted.

Why the Change?

Google is always trying to create a better user experience.

These days, that usually involves speed, and now they want things to be faster specifically for mobile devices as more than 50% of searches are taking place there.

The value of mobile speed was seen earlier this year too when Google made a massive algorithm change towards mobile-first indexing this past July.

The change to the Google Ads platform specifically is most likely in response to new data showing that 64% of all ad clicks originate from mobile devices.

How Do I Prepare as a Marketer?

The good news is that many advertisers won’t have to make any kind of changes in order to remain unaffected by the switch, but for others, there are a few things you should check on to make sure your campaigns remain active.

First off, opt-in from the account-level settings page in the “Tracking” section. This will turn parallel tracking on so you can monitor your campaign activity before you are forced to. It allows you to “test” your setup before the switch.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 12.54.21 PM

Google also advises Ads users to ensure their external click measurement providers (i.e. Salesforce, HubSpot, CallRail, TeleCapture, CallTrackingMetrics) are ready for this change, as doing so will prevent any disruptions to your campaigns.

Another thing to look into is if your tracking server uses an SSL encryption (HTTPS protocol), and that any internal redirects you have set up send users to an HTTPS URL.

Redirects using an on-page method, like a JavaScript redirect, won’t work. They will have to be separately modified to use HTTPS.

The good thing is that you will know if your account is compatible or not when you turn parallel tracking on. If your click tracking all of a sudden stops working, then you know you need to make a change.

Will Making These Changes Affect My Ads?

Yes and no. Anytime you make URL structure changes like these you are basically telling Google that you are sending users somewhere new, even though you really aren’t. It also depends on where you make these changes.

If you change your URLs at a group level (a.k.a. from the account, campaign, or ad group level), then the ads currently in those groups will be fine and continue to deliver, but the group as a whole will have to undergo a re-review process, which starts in conjunction with your campaigns. So in this case, your ads will go largely unaffected.

However, if you make edits to the individual ads themselves, they WILL be paused almost immediately and re-reviewed. This process doesn’t take long, but can range from a few hours to a day.

What Will This Do to My Ad/Site Performance?

This is the good news! With faster landing pages and users seeing your content up to five seconds sooner, advertisers everywhere will likely see a large increase in mobile conversions and time on page.

Click analytics will remain largely the same as no change is being made on the ad level, but post-click actions should improve across the board.

What steps have you taken to prepare for tomorrow’s change?

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