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Import conversions from ad clicks into AdWords

Importing conversions lets you see how your online ads affect offline sales and other valuable actions. This article explains how to prepare a file to import the conversions you receive from clicks on your ads into AdWords.

For instructions on how to import conversions from calls, see Import phone call conversions.

Before you begin

Before importing conversions, make sure you’ve followed all the instructions to set up offline conversion tracking

There are two ways you can import your data in to AdWords: by uploading or linking to a file, or by transmitting the data through the AdWords API. This article explains how to import conversions by uploading or linking to a file. If you'd like to transmit the data through the AdWords API, read this help article from our API Developer's Guide.

Instructions

Follow the instructions below to prepare your data for import and then import your data.

Step 1: Prepare your data for import

  1. Download our conversion upload template (download: ExcelCSV, or Google Sheets).
    • Be sure not to remove the row that begins with "Google Click ID," or your import will fail.
    • Make sure your data doesn't include additional columns or any personal information.
    • If you want AdWords to import your conversions automatically on a regular schedule (see Step 2: Import your conversions), you need to use Google Sheets or link to a file over HTTPS or SFTP.
    If any of the conversions you import are within one day of the click, AdWords may not be able to record them yet. As a best practice, upload an extra day's worth of data with each import. AdWords won’t count duplicate conversions.
    Note: If you are using external attribution with your conversion import see Externally attributed conversions import below for the appropriate upload template and additional features.
  2. Choose how to enter your time zone in the file:
    • If all of your conversion times are in the same time zone, set the time zone once in the "Parameters" row.
    • If your conversion times are in different time zones, add the time zone to each conversion time using the “Conversion Time” column. See the instructions and table under “Conversion Time” in step 4 below. If you don’t enter a time zone in the “Parameters” row, delete the “Parameters” row.
    • Or, you can enter a time zone in both the “Parameters” row and the “Conversion Time.” “Conversion Time” will be used first, and if any conversion is missing the time zone, the “Parameters” value will be used.
  3. Use one of the following formats to enter the time zone:
    • Enter your time zone ID from this list. This method is recommended to avoid errors during daylight savings time transitions.
    • Enter your GMT offset by indicating + or - and then the 4 digit time difference. (For example, New York's offset is -0500, and Berlin's is +0100). If you use Greenwich Mean Time, then simply enter +0000.
  4. Next, add a new row for each offline conversion, filling in the columns as follows:
    • Google Click ID: the GCLID that led to the offline conversion. (If you haven’t already, follow the instructions to set up offline conversion tracking to learn how to get this.) 
    • Conversion Name: the name of the conversion action (for example, "lead qualified" or "contract signed") that you’d like to import this conversion for. It's important that you use the exact same spelling and capitalization that you did when you created this conversion action in your AdWords account.
    • Conversion Time: the date and time that the conversion occurred. See the table below for a list of acceptable date formats (e.g. MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm:ss). You can add a time zone to the conversion time by using one of the last 4 formats listed. Replace “+z” with the GMT offset by indicating + or - and then the 4 digit time difference. (For example, New York's offset is -0500, and Berlin's is +0100). Or, replace "zzzz" with the time zone ID from this list.
      Format Examples
      MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss aa "08/14/2012 5:01:54 PM"
      MMM dd,yyyy hh:mm:ss aa "Aug 14, 2012 5:01:54 PM"
      MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm:ss "08/14/2012 17:01:54"
      yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss "2012-08-14 13:00:00"
      yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss "2012-08-14T13:00:00"
      yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss+z "2012-08-14 13:00:00+0500"
      yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss+z "2012-08-14T13:00:00-0100"
      yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss zzzz "2012-08-14 13:00:00 America/Los_Angeles"
      yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss zzzz "2012-08-14T13:00:00 America/Los_Angeles"
    • Conversion Value: (optional field) a number representing the value that you place on the conversion. It could reflect a currency value, or you could simply choose to enter relative values of 0-10 (negative numbers are not accepted). If you leave this field blank, AdWords will automatically apply the "conversion value" that you defined in Step 2.8 when you created your new offline conversion action.
    • Conversion Currency: (optional field) the currency in which your conversion value is provided. You'll use this if you report conversion values in more than one currency, or have multiple accounts that are billed in different currencies. Use 3-character ISO 4217 currency codes, such as USD for United States dollars, and JPY for Japanese yen.
Imported conversions can't be removed once they are imported, so be sure that the data you enter is accurate.

Externally attributed conversions import

If you use your own external attribution system to attribute your conversions across multiple clicks then you will want to use external attribution with your conversion imports. Externally attributed conversion actions allow you to import fractional conversion credits for each click.

To use external attribution with your imports, make sure you have selected “external attribution” when you created your conversion action in AdWords (as specified in Step 1, item 14 of these instructions). When you are ready to upload conversions with partial credit make sure you download our conversion import template for external attribution (download: Excel, CSV, or Google Sheets). There are also a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure not to remove the row that begins with “Google Click ID”, or your import will fail.
  • Make sure your data doesn’t include additional columns or any personal information.
  • Remember to set the TimeZone value in the "Parameters" row and/or in your “Conversion Time” column. Learn more about setting up your timezones.
  • You will need to enter the name of the Attribution Model you are using to assign partial conversion credit, for example this could be “linear” or “Data driven for brand”.
  • If you choose to include conversion value, it should be the partial value corresponding to the attributed conversion credit (see the following example below).
  • The amount you enter in the “Attributed Credit” column should be greater than 0 and less than or equal to 1.
  • The “Conversion Value” and “Conversion Currency” columns are both optional.

An example of how to use the conversion import template with external attribution is when you are tracking purchases and collecting the GCLID from each customer click. It might take three clicks before a customer purchases a $100 item on your website. One click might come on an AdWords display ad, one click from another advertising network and a final click on an AdWords search ad. You decide you want to use a linear attribution model. Your upload would look like this:

Parameters:Attribution Model = linear          
Parameters:TimeZone=-0800     # Attributed credit should be between 0 and 1 # # Optional # # Optional #
Google Click ID Conversion Name Conversion Time Attributed credit Conversion Value Conversion Currency
googleclickid1 External Attribution Conversion action name 05/01/2017 3:42:01 PM 0.33 33.33 USD
googleclickid2 External Attribution Conversion action name 05/05/2017 1:42:01 PM 0.33 33.33 USD
Note: At the moment, externally attributed conversions are not compatible with Shopping campaigns that use Smart Bidding, or Display campaigns using target ROAS bidding. Your reporting data will still work but you may see sub-optimal performance, so wait until this is fully compatible. 

Step 2: Import your conversions

To import your offline conversions to AdWords, you'll need to upload your conversion file into your AdWords or manager (MCC) account. (Keep in mind, imported conversions can't be removed once they're imported.) You can either upload a file once, or create a schedule to regularly upload a file that you keep online. Follow the instructions for a one-time upload or scheduled uploads below, depending on how you want to import your conversions.

Important: After creating a new conversion action, wait 4-6 hours, before uploading conversions for that conversion action. If you upload conversions during the first 4-6 hours, you’ll receive an error and you’ll need to upload your conversions again.

One-time upload

  1. In AdWords, click the Tools tab, and select Conversions. If you're using a manager account, click Conversions in the menu on the left.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Uploads.
  3. Next to “Source,” select the source of the file you want to import. The options are “Upload a file,” Google Sheets, HTTPS, and SFTP. For a one-time upload, you can choose any of the options.
  4. The next step depends on the source you selected above:
    • If you selected “Upload a file” or Google Sheets, click Choose file to locate the template you've filled out and saved with your offline conversions information.
    • If you selected HTTPS or SFTP, enter the URL for the file and the username and password to access the file.
  5. Click the Upload and preview or Upload and apply button.
    • If you click “Upload and preview,” you’ll see a preview of the estimated changes in the "History" tab below. To import the conversions into your account, click the Action dropdown menu and select Apply. (Keep in mind, there's no "undo" option after this point.)
    • If you click “Upload and apply,” the conversions will be imported into your account. (Keep in mind, there's no "undo" option after this point.)

Scheduled uploads

  1. In AdWords, click the Tools tab, and select Conversions. If you're using a manager account, click Conversions in the menu on the left.
  2. In the menu on the left, click Uploads.
  3. Next to “Source,” select the source of the file you want to import. The options are “Upload a file,” Google Sheets, HTTPS, and SFTP. To schedule uploads, select Google Sheets, HTTPS, or SFTP. (You can’t schedule uploads if you select “Upload a file.”)
  4. The next step depends on the source you selected above:
    • If you selected Google Sheets, click Choose file to locate the template you've filled out and saved with your offline conversions information.
    • If you selected HTTPS or SFTP, enter the URL for the file and the username and password to access the file.
  5. Check the box next to Schedule upload.
  6. Next to “Frequency” select Daily or Weekly, and select the time to upload your conversions.
  7. To upload your file now, click Upload and preview. This is strongly recommended, because it will let you make sure that everything is working properly before your conversions are automatically uploaded as scheduled. To import the conversions into your account, click the Action dropdown menu and select Apply. (Keep in mind, there's no "undo" option after this point.)
  8. Click Save to save your schedule.

Note

If there’s a problem with your scheduled upload, you’ll see an alert in your account and receive an email. You’ll need to check your online file to fix the problem.

Additional guidelines

Click the sections below for guidelines to follow while importing your conversions.

Timing your uploads

Offline conversions uploaded more than 90 days after the associated last click won't be imported into AdWords, and this means it won't show up in your conversion statistics.

Uploading multiple conversions for the same click

The same conversion won't be imported more than once. So, if you try to upload a conversion with the same combination of GCLID, "ConversionName," date, and time, AdWords will ignore it.

But if you want to upload multiple conversions of the same type—several offline purchase conversions, for example—for the same click, you can. AdWords will record them as separate conversions as long as they have different times (the GCLIDs and conversion names can be identical).

Tip

It's a good idea to re-upload any conversions that occurred shortly before your last upload, just in case some of them were too recent to be processed. AdWords needs 4-6 hours after the ad click before a conversion can be successfully uploaded. (If you upload a conversion too soon after the click, you'll see an error message that says "We're still processing this this click's information, please try again after 4-6 hours.")

For example, if you upload your conversions daily, you'll want to make sure you upload all conversions from the last two days, just in case some of the conversions from two days ago weren't processed. Don't worry about double counting—AdWords won't count the same uploaded conversion more than once.

Viewing the status of your upload

Once your file is uploaded, you'll see a new entry for that file at the top of the table. Check the "status" column to see if your job is complete.

Importing the file may take several minutes. Once it's complete, you'll see a summary in the status column with the following updates:

  • Records uploaded
  • Actions found
  • Successful
  • Failures

This summary will also contain a link to "Download results" which will give you a copy of your uploaded file, including any error messages. This link will be removed 30-60 days after your initial upload.

What to do if there are errors

 

  1. Download the results file from the "Download results" link.
  2. Scan the new "Errors" column to find all the rows that are marked with an error.
  3. Make the necessary corrections, save the file, and then re-upload the file. It's OK to upload the whole file again, including the previous changes (since AdWords will ignore those rows that have already been imported).
Sometimes there might be a problem that prevents the entire file from processing. If this happens, you'll find the error message in the first row (if it's a .csv or .tsv file) or in a new "General Errors" worksheet (if its an Excel file).

 

Viewing your imported conversions in AdWords

It takes about 3 hours for your imported conversions statistics to show up in your AdWords account. When they do, they'll appear in your conversions columns. (You can learn about the conversions columns and how to add them to your reports in Understand your conversion tracking data.) To see how performance varies by conversion action, you can segment the “Conversions” column by “Conversion action name.”

The longer the delay between your clicks and your conversions (online or imported conversions), the longer you will have to wait to see the most complete conversion metrics.

Example

If you want to see conversion statistics for Monday, your clicks take three days to convert, and you upload your conversions nightly, then you'll have to wait until Friday morning before you can see Monday's accurate conversion statistics.

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