Guidelines for third-party click tracking services

Google will start to limit applications to the click tracker certification to one quarter a year - submissions from click tracker service providers will be processed by Google teams only during that quarter.

Below are the specific timelines:

  • For 2023, Google will continue to accept new applications until December 1st, 2023. Afterwards, applications will not be processed for the rest of 2023.
  • For 2024 and going forward, Google will open up applications annually in the third quarter from July 1st until September 30th.

The Google Transparent Click Tracker Certification program helps to protect users from click tracker abuse by enabling click tracker transparency. Below are the guidelines you need to consider to be compliant with transparent redirection requirements.

Click tracking guidelines

Provide visible query parameter

Click tracking URLs should have a visible query parameter that indicates the next immediate hop in the redirection chain. That parameter must be followed instead of using any other redirection target configured on the backend. The parameter value can be in URL-encoded format. It’s recommended that click-tracking providers work with Google to identify the correct transparency parameters and provide Google with advanced notice before any updates are made to these parameters.

Example

Tracking URL: https://tracker.com/?redirection_url=https://example.org/

If needed, a second parameter may be used to instruct the server to respect the parameter. The secondary parameter should be listed before the transparency parameter to ensure consistent behavior.

Example

Tracking URL: https://tracker.com/?force_transparent=true&redirection_url=https://example.org/

Ensure all expected URL paths are transparent

Transparency parameters must be functional on all paths used in Google Ads URLs. Usage of paths where transparency parameters do not function as required will lead to removal of certification status.

Example

✅ https://tracker.com/click?redirection_url=https://example.org/ (redirects to parameter value)

❌ https://tracker.com/non_transparent_click?redirection_url=https://example.org/ (does not)

Perform additional validation

The click tracking service may perform additional server-side validation to block unexpected redirection targets and help mitigate any redirection exploits.

Avoid unspecified intermediate click tracking domains

The next hop redirection shouldn’t proceed through any unspecified intermediate click tracking domains or subdomains, except those that your organization owns and operates.

  • If an intermediate hop is required to redirect users to internal systems, such as in the case of migration or acquisition, the click tracking provider should own and control the next hop domain. The next hop domain shouldn’t alter the nature of the redirect, and it shouldn’t be controllable by the click tracker's users (advertisers).
  • Protocol transitions from http to https within the same domain are allowed.

While nesting other click trackers in your parameter is permitted, each nested tracker must also be certified, with the respective vendors responsible for their own application. We recommend encoding the nested values to ensure proper functioning.

Add partial modifications

The click-tracking service may partially modify the redirection target by adding additional, non-foreign parameters or expanding macros in the redirection URL, as long as the added parameters are specific to the click-tracking service and don’t alter the redirection target of nested click-tracking URLs.

Example

Tracking URL: https://tracker.com/?redirection_url=https://example.org/

Actual Redirection Target:

✅ https://example.org/click_id=12345 (assuming click_id is a standard parameter appended for all tracker.com customers)

❌ https://example.org/redirection_target=https://another.com/ (assuming redirection_target is actually the transparency parameter for example.org)

Configure subdomains

You have the option to configure subdomains on the main domain to be used for click-tracking purposes. You can map them to click-tracking service providers of your choosing. You can also configure click-tracking directly on your landing pages (for example, as pixels). These use cases are permitted and are not affected by these guidelines.

Advertiser subdomains with CNAME records pointing to your certified domains do not have to be certified on their own so long as the subdomain is associated with the domain declared in the Final URL of the ad.

Example

Final URL: https://example.org

Tracking URLs:

✅ https://tracker.example.org/?url=https://example.org/

❌ https://exampletracker.com/?url=https://example.org/

Otherwise, your advertiser would have to certify their subdomain individually. If this is the case for you and your partners, we recommend considering hosting the subdomains on your domain instead to minimize the certification overhead.

Example

Final URL: https://example.org

Tracking URL: https://example.tracker.com/?redirection_url=https://example.org/

Please note that Google will continuously monitor the list of certified click tracker providers for compliance with certification requirements, and failure to comply with requirements can lead to decertification and removal from the list of certified click trackers. Ads using a click tracker that no longer meets certification requirements will be disapproved.

Out Of Scope Areas

The following use cases currently don’t require certification:

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