Google Search Ads 360 - Setting up URLs for Conversion Tracking

Using Google Search Ads 360 (DCM) In The platform

Like many tracking solutions, Google Search Ads 360 (formerly known as DCM, Doubleclick, or DFA), use a redirect URLs to cookie users and track them from click to sale. This URL is built in Google Search Ads 360 as a click tracker (sometimes called a click tag) and will be in the following format:

http: //;[ad-id];[placement-id];[letter],e.g.
http: //;416362865;36091359;w

  • [ad-id] is the ID specific to the advertiser that will remain constant across all click trackers
  • [placement-id] and [letter] are random unique pairs that are created for each click tracker created in Search Ads 360.

Clicking on this link should direct the user via Search Ads 360's servers to the advertiser’s website. If the user is actually taken to a 404 page or a page that says checksum error then the 3 parts of the Search Ads 360 redirect do not match any click trackers that have been set up, i.e. in the example above the ‘w’ was accidently replaced with a ‘z’.

If tracking PPC activity in Search Ads 360, you need to understand the level that this tracking is being applied at:

  • Total – all clicks and conversions from PPC recorded against one click tracker in Search Ads 360
  • By Publisher – clicks and conversions are recorded in Search Ads 360 for Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.
  • By Account - clicks and conversions are recorded in Search Ads 360 for each account, e.g. Google (Mobile), Google (US), etc.
  • By Campaign – a Search Ads 360 click tracker is generated for every campaign to report at this granular level in Search Ads 360
  • By Group or by Keyword – would require thousands or millions of individual click trackers to be created in Search Ads 360 and therefore probably not be worthwhile considering this level of data is available in the platform.

The more granular the tracking in Search Ads 360 (total being the least granular and keyword the most), the more click trackers will need to be created.

Using URL Builder To Build Search Ads 360 Click Trackers

The purpose of the platform’s URL builder is to enable campaign managers to only ever have to upload untrafficked landing page URLs. The URL builder can be set up to add Search Ads 360 click trackers to keyword/creative level URLs automatically. How "automatic" this is depends on the granularity chosen above.

  • Total – URL builder adds the same click tracker automatically to all URLs
  • By Publisher – different URL builders are set up for each publisher which adds a publisher specific click tracker to each URL uploaded automatically. This is the recommended set up as it requires no input from end-users and therefore the least user-generated tracking errors.
  • By Account – semi-automatic as the correct click tracker information [ad-id], [placement-id] and [letter] needs to be set each time a new account is linked to the platform
  • By Campaign – semi-automatic as the correct click tracker information [ad-id], [placement-id] and [letter] needs to be set each time a new campaign is created

Since both by Account and by Campaign level tracking require users to add the click tracking codes, used by the URL builder to build the click tracker, it is important that they understand the consequences of not adding them (no tracking in Search Ads 360 for those clicks and conversions), adding wrong ones (clicks and conversions generated by Campaign2 are tracked as Campaign1) or worst of all adding them incorrectly so that the URL builder generates a click tracker that does not exist (user is sent to a 404 page by Search Ads 360, so no conversions possible, but advertiser charged for click).

Tracking at Group or Keyword level means that the number of click trackers being used is increased significantly, which adds to the chances of a user errors occurring.

Note: The platform Conversion Type setting "Con Track Date'" for Search Ads 360 should be always Date of Click only. Changing this setting may cause revenue data fail to attribute.

Important Information

Please make sure the Search Ads 360 click tracker dimension value is not empty. Otherwise the built URLs might not be resolved properly.

For example:[tracker_id]&mkwid=[distribution][uniq_id]&pcrid=[creative_id]&pkw=[keyword_text]&pmt=[matchtype]&lp=[Search Ads 360 Click Tracker]?[click_through_url]

In the above URL format, if the dimension [Search Ads 360 Click Tracker] is empty, the final URL will have lp=?[click_through_url], and it won't be valid.

Example Of An Error

Advertiser is tracking in Search Ads 360 at campaign level. A user takes advantage of the copy feature in the platform to copy a Campaign to a new one targeting mobiles. All of the Groups, Keywords and Creatives are copied, but the user forgets to set up a new Search Ads 360 click tracker for this campaign. The user edits the keyword level URLs, but the platform applies the old Campaign’s click tracker information, meaning that Search Ads 360 will not have any record of the new Campaign and will be recording extra clicks and conversions in the old Campaign.

To fix this, the user should:

  1. Create a new click tracker for the new Campaign
  2. Update the Dimension values of this Campaign with the [placement-id] and [letter]
  3. Re-upload all URLs in the Campaign so that they are rebuild with the correct click tracker
  4. Test a few URLs to ensure they are linking to the advertisers site correctly

Note: The platform does not support dimensions at a placement level. Please use caution if you are using URL builder with dimensions for placements.

Written by Marketing @ Marin Software

Last published at: May 30th, 2023