Create and edit URLs and parameters

About parallel tracking

Parallel tracking is a technique some search engines use to enable landing pages to load more quickly while still allowing external tracking systems such as Search Ads 360 to measure clicks and conversions. When a customer clicks your ad, the engine sends the customer directly to your landing page while simultaneously sending a request to the ad's tracking URL.

For ads managed in Search Ads 360, the engine sends the tracking request to the Search Ads 360 clickserver URL. Search Ads 360 uses the data in clickserver URL to attribute visits and conversions to the ad and keyword that generated the click. Then Search Ads 360 redirects the request to any third-party trackers specified in your URL templates.

With parallel tracking

Clicks to go the landing page and Search Ads 360

Without parallel tracking

In engines that don't use parallel tracking, a click on your ad redirects through Search Ads 360, then any third-party trackers specified in your URL templates, and then lands on your site.
A click redirects through Search Ads 360 and third-party trackers before landing on your site

Engines that use parallel tracking

Google Ads is the only search engine that uses parallel tracking.

See the technical details for how Google Ads uses parallel tracking.

Search Ads 360 features affected by parallel tracking

Because parallel tracking prevents clicks from redirecting through Search Ads 360, some Search Ads 360 features work differently and some features aren't available in engine accounts that use parallel tracking.

Macros: use custom parameters instead

Because clicks don't redirect through Search Ads 360, it isn't possible to provide values for macros in your URL templates or landing page URLs. Instead, Search Ads 360 automatically creates custom parameters in accounts that use parallel tracking. The custom parameters contain the same data as Search Ads 360 macros, and the data is trafficked to the engine. If you include these custom parameters in a Final URL Suffix or in your landing page URLs, the parameters will be included in the ad's URL and will be available to the landing page when a customer clicks your ad.

Search Ads 360 does not create custom parameters for Campaign Manager macros, so it isn't possible to use these macros in accounts that use parallel tracking.

URL templates: use a Final URL Suffix for landing page parameters

In accounts that use parallel tracking, URL templates should only contain data intended for any third-party trackers you use in addition to Search Ads 360, plus a placeholder for your landing page URLs. Parameters in URL templates may not be available to your landing page, depending on how you define the URL template.

Instead, use a Final URL Suffix to specify URL parameters that your landing pages require. Parameters in a Final URL Suffix are appended to your landing page URLs when the engine serves an ad, and are always sent to the landing page.

Campaign copy: add landing page parameters to URL templates after a copy from Google Ads

Since Google Ads uses parallel tracking, URL parameters intended for your landing pages should be defined in a Final URL Suffix or directly in each landing page URL. In addition, Google Ads uses custom parameters instead of macros to provide campaign, ad group, and keyword names and IDs for URL parameters.

When you copy a Google Ads campaign to an engine account that doesn't use parallel tracking, the Final URL Suffixes and custom parameters are not copied to the destination account. In this case, after the copy completes, add any macros and other URL parameters your landing pages need to one or more URL templates in the destination account.

Landing page tests: not available

Landing page tests requires clicks to redirect through Search Ads 360, but with parallel tracking clicks go directly to the final URL. While landing page tests aren't available for Google Ads accounts, Search Ads 360 and Google Ads both offer alternatives for testing landing pages.

Syncing new tracking templates converts tracking URLs to start with HTTPS

If you sign into Google Ads and enter a URL in a tracking template, when you sync in the change Search Ads 360 automatically changes the URL to start with HTTPS. This change is to ensure compatibility with parallel tracking.

Note that Search Ads 360 only updates the first URL in your tracking template to specify HTTPS. If your tracking template contains multiple tracking URLs, make sure they all specify HTTPS. Parallel tracking requires all tracking URLs to specify HTTPS.

After the sync completes, Search Ads 360 adds its clickserver URL to the beginning of the tracking URL and traffics the updated tracking URL out to Google Ads.

Duplicate gclsrc parameters

Currently, Google Ads only uses parallel tracking for some types of clicks. If a click doesn't use parallel tracking, the landing page URL may contain duplicate gclsrc parameters:

  • One gclsrc parameter comes from the Final URL Suffix that Search Ads 360 automatically adds for all clickable items in a Google Ads account. This parameter is always included in your landing page URL, even for clicks that use parallel tracking. The value of this parameter is aw.ds.
     
  • The second gclsrc parameter appears only when both of the following are true:
    • A click doesn't use parallel tracking.
    • Your URL templates use placeholders that HTML-encode the landing page URL, such as {escapedlpurl} and {lpurl}. These placeholders encode the entire final URL, including the gclsrc=aw.ds parameter from the Final URL Suffix.

    When a click is redirected through Search Ads 360, Search Ads 360 doesn't recognize the encoded gclsrc parameter, so it adds the second gclsrc parameter before forwarding the click to the landing page URL. The value of this second parameter can be one of the following:

    • aw.ds: This value appears when Search Ads 360 recognizes that the clicked item belongs to a Google Ads account.
    • ds: This value appears when Search Ads 360 is unable to determine that the clicked item belongs to a Google Ads account.

To ensure that your landing page URLs do not contain duplicate gclsrc parameters, do both of the following:

  1. Make sure your URL templates in Search Ads 360 use the {unescapedlpurl} placeholder.

    If you use a third-party tracker that requires landing page URLs to be encoded, it isn't possible to avoid duplicate gclsrc parameters for clicks that don't use parallel tracking.
     
  2. In your Final URL Suffix, ensure that the gclsrc=aw.ds parameter appears after another parameter. If necessary, add an ignorable parameter to the beginning of the Final URL Suffix. For example, create a Final URL Suffix that looks like this: a=b&gclsrc=aw.ds

    This ensures that Search Ads 360 will detect the gclsrc=aw.ds parameter and will not append gclsrc=ds for clicks that redirect through Search Ads 360. 
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