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Final vs Destination URLs

by Patrick Cusumano   |   Jul 28, 2015

Final URLs are replacing Destination URLs! Don’t panic. Everything is going to be okay.

Google has announced that Destination URLs as we know them are going away in favor of this new format. As you can see, this is an option as of now, but Destination URL will no longer be available in the coming months.

final URLs

The old destination URL was the landing page URL plus tracking parameters, meaning if you wanted to adjust your tracking, you had to change the whole URL. You will now use the Final URL field instead of the Destination URL, and use the Ad URL options for tracking. If you don’t use tracking, this doesn’t really affect you and there’s no difference between Final and Destination URL. It should also be noted that this is only relevant for tracking parameters that also redirect traffic, not those that just adjust something on the page (like changing phone numbers).

If you do use tracking, however, know that the Final URL field is just for your landing page URL, without any tracking parameters. You’ll enter those separately. This means that when you update your tracking information you won’t have to resubmit your ads for approval. You can manage the tracking info in the Ad URL options section, which can be specified at the account, campaign, ad group, ad, keyword, and sitelink levels.

The tracking template will create a new address users click through to reach the landing page. You can use custom parameters to identify things like keywords, similar to ValueTrack parameters. Below is Google’s example of how to use these features. If you want a more in-depth explanation check out the AdWords Help page on tracking and redirects.

Example:

Let’s say that you own a shoe store, and you’ve specified a destination URL for the keyword “ankle boots.” Your destination URL might look something like this (with tracking content in green):

http://www.3rdpartytracker.com...

You’d set up your upgraded URLs this way:

  • Set a Final URL to http://www.example.com/boots?style=ankle
  • Use the {lpurl} ValueTrack parameter to reference that final URL
  • Define a custom parameter for the keyword “ankle boots”: mykwid=751123
  • Set your tracking template to http://3rdpartytracker.com/rd?keyword={_mykwid}&ad={creative}&url={lpurl}

Then when someone searches for “ankle boots,” AdWords puts together the URL you ad links to, by replacing {lpurl} with the Final URL, and {_mykwid} with 751123.

How Do I Upgrade?

Your current destination URLs should be automatically upgraded this month, copying your current destination URLs to the Final URL field. Google states that if you use tracking, you’ll have local tracking templates for each of your final URLs. All your previous ad data will be retained and the upgrade won’t cause another policy review for your ads. However, if you use a third party click tracker or redirect through another domain, Google suggests following these steps. To know exactly what’s going to be happening and how to prepare, check out Google’s guide to upgrading your URLs. Google has also provided this nifty tool to help you build your Upgraded URLs. It shows you how your destination URLs will look in the new format.

The Verdict

Two thumbs up! The separation of fields for updating landing page URLs and tracking information makes it much easier to make updates. The tracking template will upgrade tracking info across all your ads if you set it at the ad group or campaign level which saves time. And now when you adjust your tracking info, your ads don’t go back for review, and your ad stats don’t get reset. It seems like it should’ve been like this all along doesn’t it?

portrait of Patrick Cusumano

Patrick Cusumano

Patrick joined the Workshop Digital team in May 2015. He discovered his passion for the industry while competing in the Google Online Marketing Challenge at James Madison University, where he earned his B.B.A. in Marketing. That passion leads him to find unique opportunities for his clients, and generate innovative digital marketing strategies to help drive their businesses forward.