UPDATE: Get your URLs updated by July 1st – this link has some tips etc from Google.
In what to me has been the biggest announcement since Enhanced Campaigns, Google AdWords released Upgraded URLs this past February. You know how every time you need to change a tracking parameter in the destination URL of an ad, the entire ad deletes and creates an entirely new ad that goes under review for minutes, hours or days of lost time? Well, maybe it’s not as often as the hype is making it out to be, but after a fairly significant amount of work upfront, the new system of setting landing page and tracking parameters independently will eliminate the creation of entirely new ads for URL parameter only changes.
What Exactly are Upgraded URLs?
AdWords Upgraded URLs are meant to simplify management of tracking parameters by separating what is currently the destination URL into two fields: 1) landing page/final URL, 2) tracking template parameters.
Benefits of Upgraded URLs
Upgraded URLs bring a few benefits to your AdWords efforts:
- No more “pending review” status for existing ads: By keeping the landing page portion in the ad intact, the ad will not go into pending status if you need to make a change to the URL parameters.
- Stats/data history: Before, making a simple URL tracking parameter change meant that you were technically creating a new ad, which meant you were starting over again when it came to stats & history. No longer. Upgraded URLs enable you to keep your ongoing data history for the ad.
- Time saving and flexibility: Tracking templates can be set at the account, campaign or ad group level to tell AdWords how to assemble and assign tracking to each URL. It is possible to continue to use a tracking template at the keyword, sitelink or ad level, but changes at the ad level will still trigger a re-review of the ad and landing page.
URL Parameters: Custom & Value Track
Custom parameters are where you define specific values for each parameter in the template for non-dynamic parameters. These are pretty customizable for any field that you might be using with other analytics, call tracking or internal reporting systems.
Value track parameters (some of which you may already be using) allow advertisers to pass additional information such as match type or keywords (if you’re not already using auto-tagging) dynamically to Google Analytics or third party software. They can get fairly advanced, so read more here about specific use cases.
Next Steps for Upgraded URLs
The deadline is July. This upgrade will impact EVERYONE. Whether you use tracking parameters or not, your destination URLs will need to be upgraded by Q3 2015. In July, destination URL fields will no longer be editable, and by the end of Q3, any not yet upgraded URLs will be automatically transferred over to the new format.
Depending on what kind of tracking parameters are currently in place in your account, the process of upgrading them seems like it could be pretty labor intensive, even via bulksheet (probably the best way to do it per this guide). My recommendation is to plan ahead and come up with an upgrade strategy before beginning any implementation to find the right system for your account. Once the framework and templates are all set up and running I do think they will change the way we think about URL management, and I do believe we’ll all be better for it. Hey, I did eventually embrace Enhanced Campaigns…for the most part.