Google Launches Parallel Tracking for AdWords

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

In mid-October, Google announced a new parallel tracking feature for AdWords. This new method sends customers directly to a web page where the data and URL tracking loads in the background.  Instead of forcing customers to wait for a redirect, they’re dropped right on your landing page. For web developers, this is the best of both worlds: website speed improves without sacrificing analytic data.

For web developers, attaching tracking URL’s to landing pages is like playing tug-of-war. Tracking offers a wealth of valuable consumer data, but fast load times increase conversions. If a company works with an agency or another third party, the problem gets more complex. These vendors add their own tracking to improve analytic reporting and monitoring. Parallel tracking is set to change that. Now, web developers can build fast pages that still provide the tracking data their marketing teams need.

Four Ways Your Brand Can Benefit from Parallel Tracking

Parallel tracking has the potential to impact brands of any size in every industry. While some companies may see a greater impact than others, every brand can benefit.

Faster Page Speed

Google reports that customers who click on an ad tracking URL can experience delays that last “hundreds of milliseconds.” How damaging can this be? Google recommends a maximum load time of two seconds and aims for under half a second on their own pages. This translates to a recommended 2,000 milliseconds with Google’s internal target a mere 500 milliseconds.

For Google, every millisecond counts. They tested what would happen if they delayed search results by 400 milliseconds. This small change cost them more than 8 million searches per day or millions of dollars in ad revenue. Millions of dollars lost for a delay that’s shorter than a blink of the eye.

Ad tracking adds hundreds of milliseconds to your page load speed. If you’re a developer, this leaves you scrambling to find ways to shave off milliseconds elsewhere so you can justify tracking. This can include removing images or reducing on page content. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up sacrificing your brand experience to follow Google’s best practices. Until now.

Parallel tracking allows brands enjoy the best of both worlds. Developers can build the experience they want while gathering the consumer data their marketing teams demand. All without negatively impacting page speed.

Decreased Bounce Rates

Another benefit of faster page speeds is that it can reduce your bounce rate. A study by Fast Company recently found that American’s are incredibly impatient online. In fact:

  • 25 percent of customers abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.
  • 40 percent of customers will abandon a mobile shopping experience if it takes more than three seconds to load.
  • 50 percent of customers won’t return to a company if they feel like it keeps customers waiting.

If your eCommerce website is slow, you’re losing up to 40 percent of your customers. Of those, half of them won’t give your brand another change. Few brands can afford this amount of churn in their customer base. Faster page speed can lead to a lower bounce rate, higher retention rate, and more satisfied customers.

Increased Sales

Faster page speed and a lower bounce rate can leads to a higher conversion rate. You’re also not paying for clicks from customers who bounce on your loading screen, which could improve your quality score. This could in turn lead to an improvement in your AdWords Cost Per Acquisition and ROI.

In their announcement, Google said that a one second loading delay can decrease conversions by as much as 20 percent. It might sound exaggerated, but it’s not. Amazon and Wal-Mart both released data showing the close relationship between site speed and revenue. For every 100 milliseconds improvement in speed, they saw a corresponding 1% increase in sales. For a company like Amazon, that means that each second in site speed improvements is worth $1.6 Billion. Of course, not every company is the size of Wal-Mart or Amazon, but speed still matters.  If parallel tracking can deliver on the promise of faster load times, it might mean more money for your business.

Better SEO Results

Parallel tracking is an AdWords feature but paid and organic often work hand in hand. Even with billion dollar companies, development time is finite. By leveraging this new feature, you can focus on improving the site speed elsewhere, including on organic landing pages.

In the past, Google warned that site speed would eventually be a ranking factor. With the mobile-first index update, that eventuality becomes reality. Having pages that load faster than your competitors could give you an edge in organic search.

Parallel tracking doesn’t solve SEO problems on its own, but it helps set your site in the right direction.

What Can You Do Today to Prepare for Parallel Tracking?

Google’s parallel tracking will finish rolling out to AdWords accounts at the start of 2018. Smaller companies that manage Adwords internally using Google’s interface don’t have much to worry about. However, companies that use third-party agencies or platforms should start planning now. Once the update is live, you want to ensure that your tools measure every click appropriately.

To help with ensure a smooth transition, Google is already working with key strategic partners, but hiccups are still likely. To maintain data integrity, set up a contingency plan and backups of your data. Monitor your traffic levels closely so you can identify and correct any changes in tracking.

In addition to contingency plans, record any improvements Parallel Tracking creates. This will help you attribute realized gains when comparing year over year or forecasted data. These changes might be minimal at first, but accurate data is the foundation to any smart marketing plan.

Parallel Tracking offers the promise of better speed and improved monitoring. What company wouldn’t welcome that?  To learn more about parallel tracking and to discuss your adtech data infrastructure, please contact us to schedule a confidential discovery conversation.

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