Google Ads with parallel tracking in 2018

Adwords announced this week the adoption by default of parallel tracking, an improvement so advertisers get visitors to the landing page faster. Leo Sei, Product Manager at AdWords, explains that “when someone clicks an ad with URL tracking, this can cause a delay that prevents them from reaching a website for hundreds of milliseconds.”

The parallel tracking will have the click tracker running in the background, and not in the middle. This represents an increase of velocity “up to several seconds faster” that can increase the conversions. For now, while in tests, it is available only on Google Search and Shopping networks.

Here how parallel tracking works:

In 2017 on tests, in 2018 the default

The ability to opt-in to parallel tracking will be available in AdWords, late 2017. In 2018, this will become the default tracking method for all accounts. Follow these instructions to see if you can opt-in now.

How the tracking works without parallel tracking:

  1. Customer clicks your ad
  2. AdWords click tracker loads
  3. Tracking URL loads
  4. Possible additional tracking URL loads
  5. Customer sees your landing page

How the tracking works with parallel tracking:

  1. Customer clicks your ad
  2. Customer sees your landing page

At the same time, in the background:

  1. AdWords click tracker loads
  2. Tracking URL loads
  3. Possible redirects load

Google advises the Advertisers that use third-party trackings to contact the vendors in order to guarantee they are compatible with parallel tracking until 2018.

The Impact of Parallel Tracking and Technical details

  • SendBeacon follows only HTTPS redirects (any non-SSL redirect won’t work);
  • SendBeacon doesn’t execute the HTTP content (no JavaScript executed or content loaded);
  • SendBeacon writes cookies to the main browser jar as third party.

Dynamic Data and IDs

  • It’s no longer possible for any click trackers to add or modify landing page URL parameters at click time. Those parameters need to be inserted directly into AdWords using the “Ad URL options” setting.
  • If you use auto-tagging, the GCLID parameter will be appended to both the landing page URL and the tracking URL when an impression happens. This parameter can be used as a common key to join traffic information. More info here.

Tip: If you generate a custom ID for your advertisers, you will be able to use a new {gclid} ValueTrack in place of the GCLID value and reduce the amount of required changes to the website. For example, if the final URL or tracking template in AdWords contains something like c ustom_Id=[Dynamically generated Id], you can now update it to c ustom_id={gclid}. The GCLID parameters will also be added to the end of the landing page URL and tracking URL so that Google Analytics, AdWords offline conversion tracking, and other click trackers in the chain can read it.

Tracking template

  • Templates must include a final URL insertion ValueTrack (eg., {lpurl}). We will replace the URL insertion ValueTrack with a Google URL in the SendBeacon path so that the last redirect doesn’t create a second hit on the landing page server.
  • Templates can still be used to insert parameters in the landing page. For this to work, ValueTrack parameters need to be properly inserted after the final URL in the tracking template.


With no redirects

Final URL:
Tracking template: {lpurl}?tracking=somevalue
Landing page:

With redirects

Final URL:
Tracking template:{lpurl}%3Ftracking%3Dsomevalue
Landing page: ?tracking=somevalue

With redirects and non-encoded parameters

Final URL:
Tracking template:{lpurl}%3Ftracking%3Dsomevalue&foo=bar
Landing page:
Tip : If the final URL already contains a ? and your tracking template contains {lpurl}? or {lpurl}%3F, it will be replaced with &. For more details, see the “Tracking template only” section of this article.

Browser and network coverage

  • SendBeacon (Beacon API) is already supported by a large number of web browsers and more web browsers are adding support in the future.
  • Once parallel tracking is enabled in an AdWords account, if a click happens on a browser that doesn’t support SendBeacon, the click will be sent through the previous redirect workflow.


According to Google, currently, parallel tracking is optional, but it will become the default redirect behavior in the near future. It’s only available for ads in the Search and Shopping networks right now. Additional networks will be available in the near future.