Don’t Miss Out on Google Ads Conversions!

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 | 0 comments

Google Ads Conversions

In a nod to customer privacy concerns, Apple rolled out “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” (ITP) in its Safari Browser over the past year.  This change effectively disables most 3rd-party cookies from the Safari browser after just 24 hours.  On its face, this means that Safari users who click a Google Ads ad have only 24 hours to “convert” (submit a form, call you, etc.).  If they convert after 24 hours, that critical conversion data will be lost forever!

(Note: “Google AdWords” has been re-branded “Google Ads” as of July 2018)

How Important Is It to Fix this Conversion Data Loss?

The Safari browser has about 15% of total global browser market share in 2018.  However, Safari accounts for nearly 50% of mobile web traffic in North America.  Depending on your user location and behavior, this can amount to a significant loss of conversion data.  And, it’s of course possible (likely?) that other browsers will follow Apple’s lead in the near future.

What is the Fix?

The good news is that Google was quick to come up with a solution — a new Google tracking script for Google Ads, Google Analytics and other Google services called the “Global Site Tag” (gtag.js).  It is a full replacement for the previous “Universal Analytics” tracking script as well as for the previous Google AdWords conversion tracking script.

This new “Global Site Tag” sets a 1st-party cookie to your visitor’s browser rather than a 3rd-party cookie, thus getting around the new strict Safari 3rd-party cookie deletions.  3rd-party cookies are less trusted because they are set on a domain different from the website domain you are visiting (in the case of AdWords traffic, the 3rd-party cookie is set on the Googleadservices.com domain).   A 1st-party cookie, on the other hand, is set on the domain being visited (i.e., your business website domain) so is naturally more trusted.

What Should You Do?

It’s easy to implement Google’s new “Global Site Tag” tracking scripts.  In fact, it’s the only method now supported for new Google Analytics accounts and new Google AdWords conversion actions.  The old tracking scripts will continue to work (probably for years), but moving to the new scripts will provide the most accurate conversion measurement for your Google Ads account.  You should make the switch now.

How Do You Use Google’s new “Global Site Tag” Tracking?

Step 1) Get the new “Global Site Tag” script from your Google Analytics account

Go to your Google Analytics account, then: Admin -> Tracking Info -> Tracking Code

Copy the script, which will look like this:

<!-- Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js
?id=UA-XXXXXXXX-X"></script>
<script>
 window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
 function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
 gtag('js', new Date());

 gtag('config', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X');
</script>

Step 2) Add a second ‘config’ line for Google Ads tracking

Go to your Google Ads account, then: Tools -> Conversions.  Click on an existing form submission conversion action or click the “+” sign to create a new one.  Click Tag setup -> Install the tag yourself.  Finally, click the radio button option that says, “The global site tag is already installed on all pages, but comes from another Google product (such as Google Analytics) or from another Google Ads account”.

Copy the single line of code to add to the “Global Site Tag”.  It will look like this:

gtag('config', 'AW-XXXXXXXXXX');

Insert it into the Analytics “Global Site Tag” code from Step 1, just before the closing </script> element, so that the fully complete code looks like this:

<!-- Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js
?id=UA-XXXXXXXX-X"></script>
<script>
 window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
 function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
 gtag('js', new Date());

 gtag('config', 'UA-XXXXXXXX-X');
 gtag('config', 'AW-XXXXXXXXXX');
</script>

(NOTE: Do NOT copy/paste this example.  You need to create a version that contains your Analytics ID # and Google Ads ID #.)

Step 3) Get the Google Ads “Event Snippet”

Before leaving that AdWords conversion action page, go just a little further down, make sure the “Page load” option is selected, and copy the provided “Event snippet”.  It will look like this:

<!-- Event snippet for contact form submission conversion page -->
<script>
 gtag('event', 'conversion', {'send_to': 
'AW-XXXXXXXXXX/yyyyyyyyyyyyy-yyyyy'});
</script>

(NOTE: Do NOT copy/paste this example.  You need to create a version that contains your Google Ads conversion action ID #.)

Step 4) Add the “Global Site Tag” to your website

Insert the full “Global Site Tag” that you assembled in Step 2 into your website.  It needs to be placed between the <head> and </head> elements (the closer to the top the better for more complete tracking) and must appear on every website page.

At the same time, remove the previous Google Analytics Universal Tracking Code, if you were using it.  You can identify it by searching for “analytics.js”.

Step 5) Add the “Event Snippet” to Your “thank-you” Page

Place the “Event snippet” code that you copied in Step 3 into the “thank-you” page that’s reached by a site visitor after successfully submitting your contact form.  It must appear only on this page, and this page must be at a unique URL (e.g., it cannot have the same URL as the page that contains the form).  This code also needs to be placed in the <head> section, beneath the “Global Site Tag” that you placed in Step 4.

While you’re editing this “thank-you” page, also go ahead and remove any old AdWords conversion scripts that you may have been using.  You can identify them by searching for “google_conversion” and “googleadservices.com”.

Step 6) Ensure “auto-tagging” is enabled

This generates the Google Click ID (GCLID) and appends it to the landing page URL when a Google Ads ad is clicked.  The “Global Site Tag” then extracts this GCLID value and stores it in the 1st-party cookie to enable tracking and to share data between Google Analytics and Google Ads.

To check this setting, log into your Google Ads account and go to: Settings -> Account Settings.

Related to this, make sure your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts are “linked” to each other from within both tools.  This will ensure that all data can be shared smoothly.  Here is the Google support page for cross-linking these accounts.

Step 7) Configure Phone Call Tracking (Optional)

I recommend using CallRail for phone call forwarding and phone call conversion tracking.  It costs a small amount per month (currently $30) but provides superior tracking data, including the ability to track calls from all sources (not just call from Google Ads clicks) and the ability to track calls from your website even if you don’t want to show your phone number on ads.

But if you choose to use Google Ads’ built-in call forwarding and conversion tracking instead, then follow the info on this Google support page to implement Google call forarding with the new “Google Site Tag” approach.

Summary

Implementing Google’s new “Global Site Tag” and associated “Event snippet” will ensure that your Google Ads conversion information continues to be as complete as possible.  These scripts are now required for all new conversion actions, so you’ll need to switch eventually.  You might as well do it now and start getting more complete conversion information right away!

For further information, here is the Google support page for using the new “Global Site Tag”.

 

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Andrew advises business owners, consultants & professionals to help them win high-value clients online.

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