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Home > English > Search Publishers > Google > How To Articles: Google > Google's Upgraded URLs

Google's Upgraded URLs

Introduction

Google has announced Upgraded URLs, a major change to the way that Destination URLs are associated with keywords and other trackable objects (creatives, sitelinks etc.) and a new paradigm for how URLs are constructed and served with ads.

While traditional ('legacy') URLs are well-understood, they can be problematic because they're simply not scalable if you have large numbers of keywords. For example, pushing changes to millions of keyword URLs at once can take a significant amount of time. On top of that, AdWords usually requires that a trackable (like a keyword) is re-submitted for editorial review every time a change to its URL is made.

Upgraded URLs represent a solution to these problems. 

The basics of Upgraded URLs

Instead of a single Destination URL for each keyword or creative, Upgraded URLs makes it so that each URL is now created from three URL 'building blocks' that exist in various parts of your account, similarly to how how Product Group URLs work today. These three building blocks are: 
 

  1. Final URL / Landing Page
     
  2. Tracking Templates
     
  3. Custom Parameters
     

We'll explain each of these in depth below. Upgraded URLs also introduces several new Google ValueTrack parameters.

Note that all of your URLs must be upgraded by the end of June 2015.

Upgraded URLs in More Depth

The building blocks of Upgraded URLs are are found in several levels throughout your account. These building blocks come in three distinct flavors:
 

  1. Final URLs: A landing page / click-through URL.
     

  2. Tracking Templates: A template URL for tracking solutions and extra parameters.
     

  3. Custom Parameters: User-defined ValueTrack parameters.
     

Once set up, URLs are no longer found only at the keyword or creative level. Instead, AdWords combines a keyword’s Final URL (think of this as a click-through URL), a separate account-level Tracking Template, and any user-defined Custom Parameters it can find. The combination of these three pieces will then generate and serve a URL that looks like URLs that we recognize today.

In a nutshell:

One Tracking Template + Many Final URLs + Many Custom Parameters = Many Served URLs

Since the Tracking Template can live at the account level, you can manage common parameters and your redirect logic in one place. Additionally, because Tracking Templates don’t contain the Final URL, updates to the template won’t trigger editorial re-reviews.

Final URL / Landing Page

Every trackable object (keywords, sitelinks, placements, creatives, etc.) has what Google calls a Final URL. In our Platform, we call this the Landing Page. Google also has a Mobile Final URL for mobile devices, known as a Mobile Landing Page in our Platform.

The Final URL/Landing Page can be thought of as the ultimate page that a user clicking on the ad in Google will arrive at. This URL must be a domain that the company owns and can only contain redirects if they are within the company’s own domain (no third-party redirects are allowed).

Note: In case the Marin Platform detects that the end of any Landing Page URL does not already contain a ?,  a ? is appended to the end of the Landing Page URL. This is a preemptive measure to ensure that when Tracking Parameters are appended to the end of a Landing Page and that the URL does not fail.

Therefore, it is advised to upload creatives in the Marin Platform. Uploading creatives in the publisher account can result in these syncing into the Marin Platform, the Autocorrect appending a '?'  to the end of the Landing Page and pushing the creatives back to the publisher account, resulting in a removal and creation of the same creative.

Tracking Template

Tracking Template is the template that AdWords uses to assemble the URL that will actually be served with your ads. Its primary use, as the name implies, is to support third-party tracking solutions, such as Marin Tracker, which use URL redirects. It can also be used to add parameters in non-redirect cases for large numbers of objects.

You can add Tracking Templates to every object in your account, including: sitelinks, ads, keywords, groups, campaigns, and even the account itself. But the power of Upgraded URLs comes from having fewer higher-level templates. In fact, the ideal scenario is to have just one at the account-level.

The Tracking Template can be set at the Account Level. Simply navigate to the Channels tab, select the Publisher Client Account, and then click Edit.  From the drop-down menu, select Account Tracking Template.
 

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You can also add a Tracking Template at various other levels, including Campaign and Group, via bulk upload. Simply use the header Tracking Template in your bulk sheet.

Note: If you are using the Pro version of the Marin Platform, you may not be able to view the Edit button (pencil icon). Please contact your account representative to have it enabled. 

Examples of the Tracking Template

  1. Non-redirect: {lpurl}&pcrid={creative}

  2. Redirect: http://tracker.marinsm.com/rd?lp={lpurl}
     

Tracking Templates need to include a reference to the Final URL/Landing Page that they are building on. For this, we use the {lpurl} ValueTrack parameter. This {lpurl} parameter will always be replaced with the Final URL/Landing Page of whichever keyword, creative, etc. is being served when the ad is shown.

When {lpurl} is at the beginning of the Tracking Template (as in example 1 above), the Final URL/Landing Page will be copied as-is into the combined URL at serving time. If {lpurl} is found anywhere else in the Tracking Template, then the Final URL/Landing Page will be encoded first and then copied into the served URL.

If Tracking Templates exist on more than one level (e.g. account and campaign), AdWords will use the lowest-level template when possible; in the case above, this is the the campaign-level template.

Custom Parameters

Additionally, Google has added Custom Parameters in order to make it easy to pass parameters and other information to the URL at serving time without hard-coding them in the Final URL/Landing Page or in the Tracking Template.

Custom parameters live at all levels except for at the account level (i.e. keywords, creatives, ad groups, campaigns, etc.) You can refer to them in both the Tracking Template or the Final URLs/Landing Pages.

Up to three custom parameters can be defined per object, and they have both a custom name and custom value. The value of a custom parameter can contain any of the characters found in a normal URL, and even Google-defined ValueTrack parameters (such as {creative}) -- but cannot reference other custom parameters. Custom parameter values have a maximum length of 200 characters.
 

Examples of Custom Parameters
 

  1. Keyword level: {_marinkwparam1} = “abc123”
     

  2. Campaign level: {_campaignparams} = “Brand_Shoes”
     

In the first example, either the Tracking Template or the keyword’s Final URL/Landing Page needs to contain ?mkwid={_marinkwparam1} so that when served, it is substituted with ?mkwid=abc123

In the second example, {_marincampparam1} contains a fully formed query string, so in theory you could add it directly after the Tracking Template without any special characters. In this case http://www.example.com{_marincampparam1} would be served as http://www.example.com/?campaign=Bra...ive={creative}

Putting it all together

Let’s look at some examples and see what they might look like when set up using Upgraded URLs. We’ll start with a non-redirect case.

Non-redirect case:

  1. Account Level Tracking Template{lpurl}&pcrid={creative}&{_mkwid}

  2. Keyword Final URL/Landing Pagehttp://www.powpowsports.com/basketball_shoes

  3. Keyword Custom Parameter{_mkwid}=”mkwid=abc123”

becomes:

http://www.powpowsports.com/basketball_shoes?pcrid={creative}&mkwid=abc123

If we set up the Upgraded URL attributes as above, using an account-level template, it becomes clear how AdWords uses them to construct the URL at serving time by replacing {lpurl} with http://www.powpowsorts.com/basketball_shoes and by replacing {_mkwid} with mkwid=abc123

Redirect case:

  1. Account Level Tracking Templatehttp://tracker.marinsm.com/rd?cid=1teb318&{_mkwid}&pcrid={creative}&lp={lpurl}

  2. Keyword Final URL/Landing Pagehttp://www.powpowsorts.com/basketball_shoes

  3. Keyword Custom Parameter{_mkwid}=”mkwid=abc123”

When combined, the above attributes will become the following URL at serving:

http://tracker.marinsm.com/rd?cid=1teb318&mkwid=abc123&pcrid={creative}&lp=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.powpowsports.com%2Fbasketball_shoes

In this redirect case, only the Tracking Template is different than in the non-redirect case covered earlier. Here, AdWords will again replace {_mkwid} with the keyword-level tracking ID. Additionally, AdWords will recognize that {lpurl} is in the query string, so it will be automatically escaped.

It is worth noting that AdWords also permits you to put Custom Parameters directly into the Final URL/Landing Page. This is especially useful in the case of redirects, because any Custom Parameters that are found in the Final URL/Landing Page will be automatically encoded when the URL itself is encoded and placed in the Tracking Template.

If, for example, we had placed our Custom Parameter {_mkwid} into the keyword Final URL/Landing Page like this: http://www.powpowsorts.com/basketball_shoes?{_mkwid} and not in the Tracking Template, the combined URL would have looked like this:

http://tracker.marinsm.com/rd?cid=1teb318&pcrid={creative}&lp=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.powpowsports.com%2Fbasketball_shoes%3Fmkwid%3Dabc123

Notice how the custom parameter has been encoded along with the Final URL/Landing Page.

URL ValueTrack Parameters

Google allows the use of several different ValueTrack parameters which can be used within URLs to refer to the landing page. Following is a complete list of these parameters as well as an explanation of what they do:
 

  • {lpurl}: returns the Final URL/Landing Page, which will be automatically escaped if {lpurl} appears anywhere in the tracking template, except in the beginning.
     

  • {lpurl+2}, {lpurl+3} returns the Final URL/Landing Page, escaped twice or three times, respectively. May be needed if there is a chain of redirects in the tracking template.
     

  • {unescapedlpurl} always returns the Final URL/Landing Page, unescaped.
     

  • {escapedlpurl} always returns the Final URL/Landing Page, escaped. Available only for DSA and PLA campaigns.
     

  • {lpurlpath} always returns the part of the Final URL/Landing Page that follows the domain. Available only for DSA and PLA campaigns. 

    Allowed in: Tracking Template

Platform Upgraded URL Support

Syncing and Pushing

The Platform syncs and pushes upgraded URL fields with its bidirectional sync.

Platform Bulk Support

Bulk functionality for upgraded URLs is key to maintaining a simple and efficient workflow. The Platform has added several new columns to support Upgraded URLs:

Column

Description or Format

Supported Objects

[Landing Page]

This is equivalent to the AdWords Final URL

Keyword, Creative, Placement, Remarketing List, Sitelink

[Mobile Landing Page]

Equivalent to the Mobile Final URL in AdWords. Requires [Landing Page]

Keyword, Creative, Placement, Remarketing List, Sitelink

[Tracking Template]

Tracking template

Keyword, Creative, Placement, Remarketing List, Sitelink, Product Group, Dynamic Search Target, AdGroup, Campaign

Please note that tracking templates for publisher accounts can be edited using multi-edit functionality in the Channels tab.

[Custom Parameters]

{_name1}=value1; {_name2}=value2; {_name3}=value3

 

Custom parameters must be in the same cell and separated by a semicolon and a space. {, }, and _ can be optionally omitted but are shown in report downloads.

Keyword, Creative, Placement, Remarketing List, Sitelink, Product Group, Dynamic Search Target, AdGroup, Campaign

'Preview URLs' for Google Objects

Based on the same logic that Google uses to combine Upgraded URL components into a fully formed URL on the results pages, the Platform uses the Landing page URL, available custom parameters, and the relevant tracking template to build a Preview URL for the following Google objects:
 

  • Keywords
     
  • Creatives
     
  • Placements
     
  • Product groups
     
  • Sitelinks
     

With a Preview URL that looks similar to your legacy Destination URLs, we hope that the transition to upgraded URLs will be a little less impactful to your daily workflow. Not only can you quickly see and troubleshoot how your landing page URLs, custom parameters, and a tracking template will join together, but you can view your Google Upgraded URLs alongside all of your destination URLs from other publishers in the same Platform grid column.

Preview URLs are rebuilt whenever a change is made to its URL components or its parents’ URL components. For example when the Platform detects a change to a keyword’s Landing Page, the Platform will rebuild the keyword’s Preview URL. Likewise, if the account-level tracking template is edited, the Platform will rebuild Preview URLs for every keyword, creative, placement etc. in the account.

Notes

  • If Upgraded URL fields in the Platform are out-of-sync with AdWords, the Preview URL may not show the same URL that will be shown by Google.
     

  • Since Google makes real-time decisions about which ads are shown with which keywords, placements, etc. The preview URL for a keyword won’t resolve ad-level tracking templates and custom parameters. Likewise the ad-level preview URL won’t resolve custom parameters from a keyword. Sitelinks can be attached to any number of campaigns and groups so the sitelink-level preview URL will only ever resolve sitelink-level or account-level tracking templates.
     

  • Destination URLs are no longer editable fields. Attempting to make changes to legacy Destination URL fields for Google objects will have no effect.
     

  • In AdWords, custom parameters that are not able to be matched will not be resolved. For example if a tracking template looks like this: {lpurl}&mkwid={_mkwid} and no custom parameter named {_mkwid} can be found in the currently served keyword or ad, their parent AdGroup, or its parent campaign, then AdWords will simply replace {_mkwid} with a blank space when serving a URL. For a Marin preview URL, however, the custom parameter will not be substituted. Instead it will be left as-is to indicate that no match could be found.

Helpful links  

Table of Upgraded URL Attributes by Account Object Type

AdWords Object

Custom Parameters

Final URL

Tracking Template

Account

   

Campaign

 

AdGroup

 

Product Group

 

Ad

Sitelink

Keyword

Placement

Audience

Other Trackables

 

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