Migrate Google Ads accounts to parallel tracking

Fix issues in the URL test report

Once a week, Search Ads 360 asks Google Ads to test a sample of URLs in your account for compatibility with parallel tracking. You can download the results of this test from your account settings in Search Ads 360. If the test results show compatibility issues, it's recommended you search your entire account for URL templates, final URLs, or final URL suffixes that need to be fixed.

The test only uses a sampling of URLs

The test uses pattern matching to find and test different URL patterns throughout the account. While the test is intended to uncover most issues, it may not list every item that's likely to run into problems with parallel tracking. In addition, it's possible that the test misses some issues, especially if you define tracking templates or Final URL Suffixes for individual ads or keywords.

How the test works

Search Ads 360 requests Google Ads to run a test for each account managed by Search Ads 360. The test only includes campaigns, ads, and networks that are supported by Search Ads 360.

Here's what happens when Search Ads 360 requests a test:

  1. Google Ads examines the tracking templates, final URL suffixes, and final URLs in your account, and uses pattern matching to identify all of the different possible URL patterns throughout the account.
  2. For each pattern it finds, Google Ads simulates a click by applying the tracking template and final URL suffix to a final URL. Note that this happens for each unique pattern of URLs, so the test may generate a few clicks from your account.

    While Google Ads doesn't report this click, Search Ads 360 does report a visit for each of these clicks, and your landing page will receive a visit as well. The number of clicks for each account is expected to be small, so any impact on your reporting is expected to be negligible.
  3. If click results in any compatibility issues, Google Ads records the result of the click, along with the issue.
  4. Search Ads 360 retrieves the results of the test and writes them to a spreadsheet that you can download.

Example of URL patterns

Consider the following tracking URLs that Google Ads assembles by applying URL tracking templates and Final URL Suffixes to final URLs:

  • https://clickserve.dartsearch.net/...&ds_dest_url=http://example.tracker.com?c_id=123&t_url={escapedlpurl}%3Fproduct%3D1234
  • https://clickserve.dartsearch.net/...&ds_dest_url=http://example.tracker.com?c_id=345&t_url={escapedlpurl}%3Fproduct%3D4568

Both URLs contain the Search Ads 360 clickserver URL with a redirect to a third-party tracking service. The only difference between these URLs is the value of the static URL parameters. Google Ads considers these URLs to be similar enough that it would only test one of them.

View the report

  1. Navigate to an advertiser.

    Steps for navigating to an advertiser
    1. Click the navigation bar to display navigation options.

    2. In the "Agency" list, click on the agency that contains the advertiser. You can search for an agency by name or scroll through the list.

    3. In the "Advertiser" list, click on the advertiser.

    4. Click Apply or press the Enter key.

    Search Ads 360 displays the advertiser page, which contains data for all of the advertiser’s engine accounts.

  2. Click the Engine accounts tab.

  3. Select the check box next to a Google Ads account.

  4. Click Edit and select Edit details….

  5. In the Google Ads parallel tracking section, click the View compatibility issues button.

  6. In the popup that appears, click the See examples of URLs with these issues link. 
    Clicking the link downloads a spreadsheet to your browser's download folder.

  7. Open the spreadsheet to view the report.
    If you use Microsoft Excel, import the spreadsheet as a text file delimited by commas, and specify "Text" as the data format. The default format incorrectly converts IDs to a numeric format.

    If you use Google Sheets, import the spreadsheet as a text file delimited by commas, and specify "No" when asked to convert text to numbers and dates.

Fix any issues that appear in the report as described below. In two weeks, view the report again to make sure you fixed all of the issue.

Issues in the report

This section describes the issues that may appear in the downloaded report, the likely location of each issue, and a recommendation for fixing the issue.

HTTP found

You can ignore this issue if the hop number in the Error Detail column is your final URL instead of a tracking URL. For example, if the Error Detail column  reports a hop number of 2, and the second URL in the redirect chain is something like http://example.com, you can ignore the issue. Occasionally the test incorrectly reports this issue for your actual landing page.

Usually this issue occurs when at least one URL in the redirection chain uses HTTP instead of HTTPS. Depending on your use of third-party trackers, a click on an ad may redirect through any number of third-party trackers or services before finally landing on a page in your site. If any of these redirections uses HTTP instead of HTTPS, parallel tracking will not work.

For example, you may see this issue in the following scenarios:

  • You use third-party trackers in addition to Search Ads 360 and your URL template starts the third-party URL with HTTP instead of HTTPS. 
  • You use third-party trackers in addition to Search Ads 360, and the third-party tracker redirects to a URL that uses HTTP instead of HTTPS. 

Example of incorrect tracking URL

Here's how the URL may appear in the report:

The first part of the tracking URL (https://clickserve.dartsearch.net) is the Search Ads 360 clickserver URL. It doesn't appear in Search Ads 360 URL templates.

The third-party tracking URL is the value of the ds_dest_url parameter:

In this example, the tracking URL starts with http:. Parallel tracking requires all tracking URLs to start with https:.

Fix this error

If the URL shown is a tracking URL, make sure your third-party tracking service supports the HTTPS protocol. If this protocol isn't supported, you cannot use this tracking service with parallel tracking.

If your third-party tracker supports HTTPS, do the following:

  1. Download all URL templates in the account.
  2. In the downloaded bulksheet, search the URL template column and change all instances of http: to https:.
  3. If you made any changes, upload the bulksheet into Search Ads 360.
  4. If all URLs in your URL templates already start with HTTPS, it's likely that the third-party tracking service uses the HTTP protocol in its redirection URL. Contact the service and ask them to use HTTPS in their redirection URLs. 

JavaScript redirects

This issue occurs if your landing page contains JavaScript or some other type of code that redirects clicks to another page. This type of redirect prevents parallel tracking from sending measurement data to Search Ads 360.

For example:

  1. A customer clicks an ad and lands on your site.
  2. The landing page contains code that immediately redirects the customer to a different page.
  3. Search Ads 360 will not receive the measurement data it needs to attribute conversions during this visit to the ad click.

Note that the compatibility checker isn't able to detect this issue, so even if you've already viewed and addressed compatibility issues, client-side redirects and parallel tracking may cause errors. Be sure to check the downloaded report for this issue. 

Fix this error

Talk to your webmaster about removing the redirect on your landing pages.

Final URL mismatch

This issue appears if the landing page URL without parallel tracking is different from the landing page URL with parallel tracking.

This issue may occur if your URL template specifies the {escapedlpurl} placeholder followed by unescaped (unencoded) tracking parameters. If you see this issue in the downloaded report, URL parameters that used to be available to your landing pages are no longer available because of parallel tracking.

Note that the compatibility checker always alerts you that URL templates contain URL parameters, even if those parameters are only intended for third-party trackers and therefore can safely remain in the URL templates.

Example of incorrect tracking URL

Here's how the URL may appear in the report:

Because &campaign=brand isn't escaped, Google Ads assumes the parameter is intended for the third-party tracking service. With parallel tracking turned on, this parameter will not reach the landing page, but will be sent to the third-party tracking service. Learn more about how Google Ads interprets URL parameters in tracking templates when parallel tracking is turned on.

Fix this error

The recommended approach is to move all tracking parameters that your landing page needs to a Final URL Suffix. An alternative approach is to move these parameters to individual landing page URLs, after the {ignore} ValueTrack parameter.

If neither of those approaches is acceptable, make sure you follow Google Ads encoding rules when you add parameters to URL templates in Search Ads 360.

Crawl failed

This issue appears if the tested click never lands on your final URL, even after following all redirects in the tracking template.
Fix this error only if no other errors appear in the report. Other errors in the report can cause this error to appear. 
If this is the only issue that appears in the report, it may be caused by either of the following:
  • You use a third-party tracking service and the service doesn't redirect to your final URL
  • Your web site was down when the test was running

Note that the compatibility checker isn't able to detect this issue, so even if you've already viewed and addressed compatibility issues, problems with your third-party tracking service may cause errors.

Fix this error

If you use a third-party tracking service, make sure the service redirects to the final URL you specified. If the tracking service redirects to another service, make sure the final redirect lands on the final URL you specified. For example, if the final URL specifies https://example.com?product=1234, make sure the tracking service isn't redirecting to something else, such as https://example.com/apparel.

Next steps

  1. Make sure you've fixed all compatibility issues in your account.
  2. Optionally try parallel tracking in specific campaigns.
    If the campaigns perform as expected, enable parallel tracking for one or more accounts.
  3. Turn on parallel tracking.
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