Google is expected to announce today that they will be changing the way destination URLs are handled within the platform. With this change, base destination URLs will be decoupled from URL parameters. This feature has been available to API users, in beta, since the summer of 2014 with the release of AdWords API v201406.
This change will be a “forced migration”; all advertisers will need to update to the new conventions. Adwords will be updating the UI as well as releasing a new version of Adwords Editor which will include support for upgraded URLs.
It’s impossible not to cringe at a “forced migration”, but in this case, the change should be positive for most advertisers. By separating base URLs and URL parameters, ads will no longer need to be editorially reviewed due simply to changes in those tracking parameters. Like ad customizers, released last fall, this is another move which allows advertisers to maintain ad history and associated performance data when there are no “real” changes to the actual messaging.
Though this should be a positive move overall, the migration is sure to cause some pain for some advertisers. In particular, advertisers that use 3rd party platforms, which automatically append their own tracking parameters or use redirect URLs, are subject to those 3rd party platforms updating to comply with the new requirements. Additionally, this may cause issues with syncing AdWords campaigns to Bing Ads, though with all recent AdWords updates, I’d expect Bing to quickly change to adopt the features as well.
Here is more information on the change to URLs:
Currently, destination URLs are used to:
- Specify which part of your website users land on when they click your ad.
- Encode additional information for attributing performance back to the ad click.
Upgraded URLs allow you to specify the tracking and landing page parts of your URL through separate fields.
- Final URL: The final URL represents the actual landing page for your ad, keyword or sitelink. The final URL must be what the user sees in the browser bar after clicking on your ad.
- Tracking template: You can optionally use the tracking template to specify additional tracking parameters or redirects. AdWords will use this template to assemble the actual destination URL to associate with the ad.
- Custom parameters: Custom parameters enable you to create your own ValueTrack parameters to which you assign IDs.
The new approach allows you to update tracking information to your URLs without triggering editorial review, and also minimizes the number of times Google crawls your landing pages.
Updated: Google officially announced the URL change here.
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