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Google Is Making Some Sweeping Changes with Parallel Tracking. Are You Prepared?

Published: October 24, 2018

Author: Jack Pace

This post is part of a two-part series on Google Parallel Tracking. Today we’ll go over what it is, how it’ll impact you, and when Google will enforce changes that will affect your Google ads. Tomorrow, we’ll do a technical deep-dive into setting it up so you’re prepared for the October 30th deadline.

Google Parallel Tracking is a feature that allows users to go from a Google ad to landing page more quickly by allowing users to bypass redirects. Google touts that Parallel Tracking helps reduce lost visits, increases conversion rates, and improves ad performance by sending users directly from an ad to the final URL while tracking happens in the background. Google is actively moving advertisers onto Parallel Tracking, and by the end of the month, advertisers will be required to use it. Here’s what you need to know:
What is the scope of the impact? Parallel Tracking will be implemented universally across all Google Ads products.
When? The changes will take effect for all advertisers by October 30, 2018.
How exactly does Parallel Tracking work?
Here’s what parallel tracking looks like:

  • Customer clicks your ad
  • Customer lands on your landing page

At the same time, in the background:

  • Google Ads click tracker loads
  • Tracking URL loads (redirects) through the browser’s sendBeacon function
  • If you use more than one click tracker, additional redirects may load.

Without parallel tracking, customers go through one or more redirects after clicking your ad before they reach your landing page. This means it takes longer for customers to reach your landing page. Here’s what tracking looks like without parallel tracking:

  • Customer clicks your ad
  • Google Ads click tracker loads
  • Tracking URL loads
  • Possible additional tracking URL loads
  • Customer sees your landing page

What will I need to do? The steps for Parallel Tracking are pretty straightforward since the impact/driver is only Google Ads products:

  1. Check with your measurement partners (Marin/Kenshoo/Quantic Mind/Visual IQ) to make sure their system is compatible with parallel tracking.
  2. Turn on parallel tracking.

What is the impact if I do nothing? If there is an incompatibility with your measurement partner’s system, your click measurement could stop working, or users could hit an error before reaching your site once this setting gets turned on. As far as we’ve seen, most measurement partners are compatible, and with the changes we’ll outline in the next post, you should be fine. However it’s important that you talk to them regardless. If they are incompatible, we’d recommend removing the system until it’s compatible.
What if the user is not using a parallel tracking-compatible browser? Don’t worry, Google will revert back to the original method.  
At this point, you should feel comfortable with what Parallel Tracking is, and how it’ll impact your Google ads. Come back tomorrow for step-by-step instructions on how to set it up. Reach out in the comments if you have any questions.

About 3Q Decision Sciences:

Our Decision Sciences team helps you understand your audiences and determine where, how, and when to spend your budget. We provide an in-depth understanding of your customers and user interactions, layering on- and off-site data. We use multi-touch attribution, a DMP leveraging advanced 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-party data collection and integration, audience targeting and media-mix insight, and behavioral performance data, combined with best-in-class reporting and data visualization, to shape marketing strategies. Contact us today!

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