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AdWords Upgraded URLs in Plain English

4 MINUTE READ | February 17, 2015

AdWords Upgraded URLs in Plain English

You may have heard some buzz about this one: Last week, Google officially launched AdWords Upgraded URLs, which will change the way we work with destination URLs in the paid search space forever. But don’t worry, dear reader! We’ll work through this one together — In about 5 minutes or less reading time, you’ll have the high-level on what’s going on and what you can expect.

AdWords Upgraded URLs are a new way of building what you now think of as destination or landing URLs for Keywords and Ads, affecting AdWords Search, Google Shopping Campaigns and Google Display Network.

Basically, the Upgraded URL pulls any tracking information you’re using on your destination URLs (anything after a ? in the URL), and drops it in the “tracking parameters” section of your new “tracking template.” Meanwhile, your actual URL stem (e.g., “”) will live in the “Final URL” section, which you can think of as the new destination URL.

That sounds complicated, but it’s not. Color-coded examples below (Destination URLFinal URL, and Tracking parameters):

We’re going from this: to this:**?ad=123**.

There are a few key reasons to take note of this, chief among them that Google is requiring advertisers to exclusively use Upgraded URLs by July 2015. This means if you don’t manually upgrade via one of Google’s prescribed routes by this point, you will be auto-upgraded — keeping your ad performance statistics and ad serving during the upgrade time, but losing out on the option to take advantage of all of the new benefits that Upgraded URLs bring.

That depends on which of three routes you take to upgrade:

Automatic Upgrade: If you don’t run any URL tracking and don’t plan to in the near future, just sit back and let Google automatically upgrade you when they begin rolling out Upgraded URLs in July.

Basic Upgrade: If you want to manually upgrade but need to keep your ad performance statistics and/or don’t want to trigger ad reviews (as if you’re uploading completely new ads), you can do the Basic Upgrade.

Advanced Upgrade: If you’d like to take advantage of the bevy of new features that Upgraded URLs offer, you’ll need to go with the Advanced Upgrade route.

I’ll lead with the biggest one: after the initial upgrade, changing your tracking information won’t reset performance data, interrupt ad serving or ding Quality Score.Those may seem like minute changes, but in the paid search medium they can have massive impacts on cost-influenced metrics like ROI and CPA, especially if you’re changing elements across an entire account.

In the old destination URL environment, if you needed to add, edit or remove tracking parameters on your keywords or ads (e.g., tweaking Omniture/Google Analytics channel tags), this would register as a direct change to your ad, which would ding QS and affect ad serving ability. Now, since URLs and tracking parameters will be monitored separately, that won’t be the case. Also, adding and editing these parameters at scale will be dramatically easier and faster to do. You’ll have shared tracking templates that you can add new elements to and assign to multiple ads or keywords, using new useful ValueTrack parameters.

To sum it up neatly, Google is changing your URLs to make sense for the way most advertisers manage their accounts. You’ll see reduced crawl load on your site, easier manipulation of your URLs and access to new ValueTrack parameters. It’s like Google is fist-bumping you and telling you how proud it is of your tracking efforts. Thanks Google <3

Now that you have a grasp of the state of things, read it from thesource: here are the announcement and the AdWords Help Guide posts to get you started:

Since the automated rollouts aren’t coming until July, there is still time to get ahead of this change in the way that makes best since for your accounts — in fact, you may be best served by waiting to upgrade for now if you’re running with a third party platform that doesn’t yet support Upgraded URLs.

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Posted by Christian Buckler

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