How Conversion Booster server-side tracking for Google Ads ensures more attributed conversions
How to get the most out of Google Ads server-side tracking with ProfitMetrics.io Conversion Booster
Google ads has changed rapidly over the last year. Smart bidding and the new Performance Max campaign format have become the new standard. Targeting, bidding and even doing creatives has now been automated by Google machine learning.
With these changes, the jobs of performance marketers have also changed.
As everything that used to be managed manually within Google Ads, is now automated, the work of the performance marketer becomes one of strategy; making sure the AI is optimizing toward the real business goals. This means that tracking, values and feed optimisation have become even more important. Machine learning can never be better than the data we provide it with.
Following these changes, Google has, over the last few years, provided businesses with a whole new stack of tracking options, that are made to be future proof in an era of privacy.
In this article, we will explain how we think these tracking features are best combined into one stack and why we built our new Conversion Booster.
In our Conversion Booster, we combine the following Google Ads tracking features:
Google ads global tag (Gtag)
Offline conversion tracking (server-side)
Enhanced conversion (server-side)
Combined, these features “recover conversions that otherwise wouldn’t have been measured and thereby improves bidding optimization through better data”.
Let’s dive into each of the tracking features and how they contribute to the Conversion Booster.
Step 1 - Google ads server-side tracking (The global site tag)
The global site tag (Gtag) is the standard client-side conversion tracking for Google Ads. We employ this feature to catch as many conversions as possible - well-knowing that a number of conversions will fall through the “client-side cracks”. Nevertheless, it is worth it since the client side tracking supports a number of native Google ads functionalities, as listed below:
1.1 Cross device attribution:
Google ads global tag can attribute cross device conversion when users are logged into one of Google products. Cross device conversion is conversion that happens on devices/browsers other than where the click has happened.
1.2 View-through conversion:
Global tag can also attribute view-through conversion. A view-through conversion happens when a user opens a new browser or window after viewing an ad and ends up making a purchase. This is important for Google display ads and youtube advertising, where a big percent of users don’t necessarily click on the ads, but they still play an important part in the customer journey.
1.3 Attribution beyond last non-direct (Google Analytics):
The imported conversion in Google ads from Google Analytics has for a long time been a choice of many ecommerce businesses. But since Google Analytics uses last non-direct conversion attribution when being imported into Google ads, this is not necessarily the best option anymore. Though this attribution guarantees that Google ads played a big role in the conversion journey, there will also be a lot of conversions that never get reported into Google ads. This leads to campaigns/ads being closed down, even though they are profitable.
1.4 Consent Mode and Modeling:
When a user doesn’t consent to Google Ads cookies or Google Analytics cookies, Consent Mode automatically adjusts the relevant Google tags’ behavior to not read or write cookies for advertising or analytics purposes. Without cookies, advertisers experience a gap in their measurement and lose visibility into user paths on their site. They are no longer able to directly tie users' ad interactions to conversions.
Conversion modeling can help fill in blanks in media measurement at times when it’s not possible to observe the path between ad interactions and conversions.
Conversion modeling analyses observable data and historical trends though machine learning. Using user paths from consented users, Google's models are able to asses attribution paths for unconsented user journeys, closing the gaps where consent has not been given. This creates a more accurate view of advertising spend, while respecting user consent.
On average, the global tag tracks 80% of the conversions from an ecommerce site. In fact, this is the level of precision most setups run from today.
Step 2 - Google Ads Offline conversion import
As mentioned above, Google Ads Global Tag leaves a gap in the data. This is the case for all client-side and tracking as is caused by tracking blockers, wrong thank you pages from payment methods, or users closing the page before the script is fired.
However, we have a solution for this.
We collect the Click ID (Gclid and Wbraid) from Google Ads on the server and send this along with the conversion tracking via the Google Ads API. By doing so, Google is able to recognize a number of conversions not already tracked via the Global tag and thus minimizing the data gap.
On average we see 12% extra conversions being attributed via this technique. This is a considerable improvement, which gives our customers a much more precise picture of the actual performance of their Google Ads efforts. In other words, this can be the difference between closing down a profitable campaign, which simply looks unprofitable because of fewer attributed conversions.
Step 3 - Google Enhanced conversions (server-side)
Finally, our Conversion Booster support Google Enhanced Conversions. This Google Ads feature uses first-party data (like hashed emails, phone numbers or adresses) to help Google attribute conversions without using third-party cookies. With third-party cookies already having a very short lifespan or blocked altogether from certain browsers, this feature becomes more and more important in ecommerce tracking.
It works by pairing first-party data like a hashed email together with a conversion and sending it into Google Ads. Google might not know the user in the specific browser or their cookie has been deleted by e.g. ITP; but Enhanced Conversions will enable Google to look at logged users (through Gmail, youtube, Chrome, Google Calendar, etc.) that have clicked or viewed an ad in their platforms and then attribute a portion of those conversion, that up until now where in the “dark”.
ProfitMetrics.io tracking solution collects this first-party data server-side to make sure it is collected on all conversions. Enhanced conversions are then sent through Google api, to make sure all of this data is delivered to Google to attribute more conversion.
Google reports this increases conversion attributed by 5% on websites and up to 17% on Youtube ads. Again, closing the conversion gap will help you make better decisions and improve the machine learning for your setup.
The following example shows the results from one of our customers after switching enhanced conversions via our Conversion Booster.
Boost the profit and/or revenue tracking
The Conversion Booster for Google Ads can be applied for tracking both revenue and profit.
We always recommend tracking the profit of your conversions, as this will enable you to work much more efficiently towards your business goals. You can read more about this in our ROAS vs. POAS article.
However, we acknowledge that revenue has its place in the setup and enable you to use the conversion booster for this value too.
And don’t worry - we have taken the necessary steps to hide your profit data in the Global Tag tracking by sending it through the API.
So how does the regular Googel Ads tracking (Gtag) measure against our new Conversion Booster?
We've had a chance to test the Conversion Booster for a number of customers, and as expected the results are very dependent on the existing setup - but always an improvement.
Below is a list of results for real customers. Both conversion actions have the same attribution window and attribution model, to make it as comparable as possible
25% increase in tracked conversions
33% increase in tracked conversions
8% increase in tracked conversions
29% increase in tracked conversions
18% increase in tracked conversions
16% increase in tracked conversions