Google’s “Upgraded URLs”: New Opportunity for Speed to Market in Paid Search, Display & PLAs

Post by Gordon Ferris, Associate Director, Media Technology This week, Google announced upgraded URLs for paid search ads, display ads and Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Upgraded URLs will be rolling out globally to all advertisers. Advertisers that use tracking within their URLs must migrate by July 1st, when Google will force URLs to the new format. WHAT’S CHANGING? Currently, if you use tracking info within your destination URLs (e.g. third-party tracking info, custom tracking parameters or creative IDs), you must update the entire URL anytime you adjust that tracking info. This update spurs a re-review of the entire ad (and sitelinks) by Google. Your ads stop running during the re-review, which may take several hours, causing you to miss out on clicks and conversions. With new upgraded URLs, advertisers and agencies can now enter—in AdWords—two different portions of the URL: (1) the landing page portion and (2) the tracking info portion. In essence, landing page and URL tracking parameters are now separate. Advertisers can then update the tracking portion of the URL (at the account, campaign or ad group level) without triggering a re-review of the entire ad and sitelinks. There will also be new fields introduced within the URL settings of AdWords:

  • “Destination URL” will be updated to “Final URL”
  • New “URL Options” section where you can scale your URL tracking parameters and apply new custom value-track parameters (see the full list of AdWords value-track parameters)

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? BENEFITS for ADVERTISERS What’s in it for advertisers and agencies? Well, speed to market for one. The ability to change URL tracking without having to get the ad reapproved keeps your ads live; you won’t have any downtime in driving performance. If you’re only updating your URL tracking codes (and not changing your landing page and/or ad copy), you won’t have to wait for Google’s approval process or reset your ad’s Quality Score.  You’ll also spend less time managing URL tracking updates, as you can now update groups of URLs, all at the same time, in AdWords. What’s in it for Google? Google is making this change to benefit advertisers, enabling speed that will result in fresher, more relevant ads and no pause during an approval process. Google is also streamlining the approval process for itself, putting in less work. Even if you’re making a change that requires approval (e.g. updating ad copy or landing pages), Google will make the approval faster, as upgraded URLs will diminish the total number of AdWords approval submissions. CONSIDERATIONS for ADVERTISERS This changes requires the search management platforms (e.g. Marin, Doubleclick, Kenshoo) to incorporate new functionality to enable compatibility with AdWords, which may take some time. Unlike Google Enhanced Campaigns, Google informed the platforms of the change ahead of time so that the platforms could realign their development roadmaps. We expect search management platforms to release support for this update starting in March to provide advertisers with enough time before Google’s forced July 1st migration. Currently, advertisers shouldn’t do anything; we will wait on the platforms for integration. Compared to other mandatory AdWords upgrades, (e.g. Enhanced Campaigns), this update will be minor. Advertisers should carefully implement the new URLs in order to derive the benefits of speed to market; but, unlike Enhanced Campaigns, this won’t require large scale changes in account structure or bid strategy. For more info on Google’s “Upgraded URLs,” please contact your performance account team today.

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