DoubleClick Search overview

About URLs for ads and keywords

When consumers click your ads, they land on pages within the advertiser’s site. While this seems straightforward, the search engine, ad server, and search engine marketing tools add a few layers of indirection behind the scenes to track clicks, conversions, and other advertising data.

At the beginning of this path from the ad through the layers behind the scenes, is the destination URL that you define for each ad. The destination URL is the URL that loads when a consumer clicks your ad. DoubleClick Search calls this the landing page URL.

Some engines require you to define a landing page URL for each ad. If you want to attribute metrics to specific keywords, engines give you the option of defining landing page URLs for individual keywords. When the engine serves an ad, it substitutes the keyword URL for the ad’s URL, and the keyword-specific URL enables engines to report which keyword triggered an ad to display.

The engine substitutes the keyword

Landing page URLs and clickserver URLs in DS

In DoubleClick Search (DS), you’ll always need to define landing page URLs for individual keywords. Because some engines require landing page URLs for ads, you’ll also need to define the associated landing page URL for ads on DS.

If you created keywords directly in the engine without specifying landing page URLs, when you sync DoubleClick Search (DS) does the following depending on the type of engine account:

  • All engine accounts except Bing Ads: DS copies a landing page URL from an active ad in the ad group and adds the URL to the keywords. It isn't possible to predict which landing page URL will be copied. If you want specific landing pages for your keywords, be sure to specify landing page URLs for your keywords before running a sync.
  • Bing Ads: Bing Ads engine accounts do not specify landing page URLs for ads, so DS reports a sync error. You can see all sync errors after a sync completes.

When you add a keyword to DS, DS generates a clickserver URL for the keyword that looks like this:{creative}&ds_e_matchtype={ifsearch:search}{ifcontent:content}&ds_e_device={device}&ds_url_v=2

When DS traffics the keyword out to an engine, it passes the clickserver URL to the engine as the keyword’s landing page URL. Then, when the engine serves the ad, it substitutes the keyword’s clickserver URL for the ad’s URL.

The engine substitutes the clickserver URL for the ad

When the consumer clicks the ad, the ad forwards to DS. DS uses the parameters in the clickserver URL to find the landing page URL and to track activity. Then DS forwards to the original landing page URL.

DS redirects to the original landing page.

Over the next few months, DoubleClick Search will automatically upgrade engine accounts to a newer version of this feature. If you're seeing something that's different from the description in this article, your account may already be upgraded.

See if your account has been upgraded.

Parameters in your landing page URLs

The scenario above uses a simple landing page URL without any parameters. In more advanced scenarios, you might need to attach parameters to landing page URLs to perform additional tracking. For example, if you’re using Adwords ValueTrack parameters, your landing page URL might look like this:{MatchType}

Depending on how you’ve set up the parameter handling settings in your engine account, DS will generate a clickserver URL that looks something like this:{creative}&ds_e_matchtype={ifsearch:search}{ifcontent:content}&ds_e_device={device}&ds_url_v=2&dynamic={MatchType}

As usual, DS traffics the clickserver URL to the engine. If the engine recognizes the parameter, it performs the action that’s associated with the parameter. For example, if you pass a ValueTrack parameter to AdWords, when AdWords serves an ad it substitutes a specific value for the parameter:{creative}&ds_e_matchtype={ifsearch:search}{ifcontent:content}&ds_e_device={device}&ds_url_v=2&ds_url_v=2?matchtype=b

When the consumer clicks the ad and forwards to DS, DS uses its own parameters in the URL to find the destination URL and to track activity. DS then adds the other parameters back to the original destination URL:

Engine sets the landing page URL

You can add a URL parameter to a keyword’s landing page URL that will allow the engine to set the landing page URL instead of using the original landing page URL. This is great when you’re using advanced features like Dynamic Search Ads on Google AdWords. When a user clicks an ad, DoubleClick Search will redirect him/her to the landing page URL parameter that’s determined by the engine. Learn more.

Requirements for landing page URLs in DS

When you add keywords and ads to DS (either by sync, upload, or the DS UI), DS checks the following:

  • Each keyword defines a landing page URL
  • Each ad defines a landing page URL (when you use DS to manage campaigns, this URL is never used, but engines require it to be there)
  • The URL is in a valid format. A valid URL:
    • Should start with http:// or https://.
    • The domain name should start with a character from set [A-Za-z0-9{] (note the addition of '{' in the existing rule).
    • Any curly braces you add must match ('{', '}'); nested curly braces are acceptable.
    • Should not contain any DS-specific reserved parameters (other than {ifmobile:ds_dest_url=...} in the context of the suggested device specific landing page solution).
    • Should only contain US-ASCII characters.
    • Should not contain any spaces. (Replace any spaces with %20.)
  • AdWords ValueTrack parameters are not HTML encoded, and your engine account settings are compatible with including ValueTrack parameters.
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