Parallel Tracking by AdWords – Affiliate Marketers’ new challenge

A few days ago Google AdWords announced that Parallel Tracking will be enforced across all advertisers by October 2018. The main goal of Parallel Tracking is to speed up the time for the user to reach your landing page and avoid multiple redirects. I personally think that it’s quite a good thing since by definition, a tracking software will need to first record AdWords valuetrack parameters to then redirects the visitors to the landing page.

adwords parallel tracking

Those buying traffic on AdWords, know that inevitably, some clicks are being lost on the way to your landing page due to inherent latency and frankly, it is quite annoying to have to map those parameters on both the traffic source settings and on the landing page.

For better or the worse, this new feature will definitely ease the process of creating ads but more importantly it will help lift conversions.

Here is the plain explanation of what Parallel Tracking is:

Parallel tracking sends customers directly from your ad to your final URL while tracking happens in the background.  AdWords

How Parallel Tracking works

Adwords Parallel Tracking

The Parallel Tracking Panic

Every time the AdWords team rolls out a new feature the entire search marketing industry is wondering how they will be affected. SEM campaigns being “conversion-centric”, it is natural that anything related to campaign tracking freaks us out.

Before I continue with the in-and-outs of this new tracking method, I’d like to reassure you that TrackingDesk is “Parallel Tracking Ready”.

When AdWords first announced the parallel tracking feature, we were in the middle of adding new features to our organic tracking script. We took a pause and went back to our design board to see how parallel tracking would affect our users and how we could get over this new bump on the track.

After a few tweaks, we released the Organic Tracking Script, which can be used not only to track organic traffic, but any kind of campaigns – Social Media, Email Marketing or Native Advertising and naturally, PPC campaigns.

What is the Organic Tracking Script?
The Organic Tracking Script is added on your landing page or website, and starts tracking your traffic when the visitor lands on your page.

The Upgraded version of the Organic Tracking Script has an additional feature which allows it to capture dynamically any query strings and values showing up on the landing page URL.

For instance:

Example of URL with UTM query string parameters
http://blog.trackingdesk.com/blog?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=organic+tracking

You can read more about the upgraded version of our organic tracking script here.

How does the organic tracking script relate to AdWords Parallel Tracking?

Since the regular tracking urls will not be supported by AdWords, your ads will point directly to your landing page. Therefore, by having the organic script on your site, your campaigns will be tracked as if the visitors had clicked on the redirect URL.

Setting your URL in your Ad will then look like:

adwords tracking template

(Note that the tracking template or “Ad URL options” can be set at all levels of your AdWords account. More info on Google Support site.

Example of how AdWords will transform your landing page URL on click event:

Keyword: Parallel Tracking

Ad URL Options: {lpurl}?url={lpurl}

○ Landing page URL becomes

URL Transformed during the Click
http://blog.trackingdesk.com/blog/?utm_term=parallel_tracking&utm_source=Google &utm_medium=cpc&url=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.trackingdesk.com%2Fblog &gclid=a0sd8f0asd8fasd09f8

As long as the Tracking Script is on the page, you will be able to see all your traffic metrics and attributes, as if you were sending traffic to a regular campaign URL.

Naturally, TrackingDesk will track the conversions as it does today. So no changes on this end.

Advertising Beyond AdWords:

As you may know, many ad networks and marketing platforms use the UTM parameters to help you track your campaigns. In fact, since it’s almost a standard, it simplifies lots of our daily tasks and very soon you will see how it comes very handy.

For this reason, you have a predefined traffic source called “organic“, which has all the standard UTM parameters built in. Therefore, if  you use MailChimp to communicate with your subscribers, or Buffer to post on your social networks, you will be able to use the very same traffic source to track all the campaigns related to the same site.

Key Takeaways:

The Parallel Tracking feature introduced by AdWords will definitely have some impacts on those who rely on redirect URL’s to track their AdWords campaigns.

Traditionally, affiliate marketers have always craved for AdWords traffic but AdWords has consistently made it difficult to affiliate marketers to tap into the bidding war. There are many rules and policies that you must comply with to avoid getting your ads suspended, or worse getting your account banned. With the parallel tracking method, digital marketers in general and affiliates marketers in particular, who lack the appropriate conversion tracking platform, will find it very hard to get a fair fight in the keyword bidding war.

If you like this post or think it can be useful to a colleague or a friend, please share it across your social media accounts and do not hesitate to comment or ask questions if something isn’t clear.

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TrackingDesk is a conversion tracking and attribution platform used by performance marketers to manage, measure and optimize paid and organic traffic. The platform is integrated with dozens of ad networks, affiliate networks, ecommerce platforms and provides a friction free data flow across any marketing stack.

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