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Google Retires Converted Clicks in AdWords: How to Say Goodbye

CPC, CTR, AOV, ROAS. Digital marketers are blessed (or cursed, depending on whom you ask …) with tons of jargony words and acronyms to measure campaign performance.

But conversions is what we most want, right? For nearly all marketers, that’s a big fat “yes!”

And last week, Google answered this question with an AdWords update: In September, it will phase out the Converted clicks metric, and make “Conversions” the default tool for measuring actions taken after an ad is clicked.

Tracking conversions sounds straightforward, but questions still abound: When, exactly, is this happening? What’s changing and why? How will my campaigns be affected?

Although Converted clicks rides off into the sunset soon, we know you’ve still got work left to do before retiring to your own private island. So have no fear, we’ve got you covered.

Outdated and Upfront About It

Introduced in 2001, conversion tracking in AdWords was pretty darn simple. Originally, AdWords just tracked whether a single click to an ad immediately resulted in any type of action on your website.

In the decade and a half since conversion tracking came onto the scene, Google has equipped marketers with a huge toolbox for tracking a host of desired actions — purchases, app downloads, phone calls, form submissions — from ad clicks.

For years, Converted clicks happily coexisted with “Conversions.” Converted clicks meant one action per click, and “Conversions” meant many actions per click. But Google now sees Converted clicks as an outdated metric, and beginning on Sept. 21, will no longer support it.

The Upside

Our take on all this? Google’s decision to retire Converted clicks will ultimately be positive for marketers using AdWords to win new customers and for digital marketing in general, since Google is so influential in defining industry norms and standard practices.

There are two big reasons why we’re optimistic about the update:

1. Uniformity: Spend enough time helping marketers enhance their campaigns, and you learn pretty quickly that many businesses track AdWords conversions differently. Some use converted clicks and others use the “Conversions” column, measuring not just sales, but store visits and cross-device conversions, too. It’s a lot …

Google’s decision to phase out converted clicks will narrow the field a bit and potentially bring a little more uniformity to the way marketers track performance, leading to more productive conversations among and between teams and stakeholders.

2. Cross-device measurement: A few weeks ago, Google announced that it would automatically include cross-device conversions in the “Conversions” tab starting on Sept. 6. Coincidence? Probably not …

Tracking cross-device conversions is always the way to go, but sometimes advertisers just don’t want to deal with setting it all up. Now, Google’s not giving marketers a choice in the matter, and making cross-device tracking the default for the “Conversions” tab — which will soon be the only way to track conversions.

Whether they like it not, advertisers will soon have a more comprehensive view of their mobile performance. And that’s not such a bad thing …

Make It Count

“Okay,” you might be saying to yourself. “This sounds pretty good, but what does it mean for my campaigns?”

Google says that the majority of advertisers are already using “Conversions” — instead of Converted clicks — to track performance. So if you’re among this group, you don’t have to do anything. Hooray!

If you ARE still relying on Converted clicks for measuring your campaigns, stay calm. Here’s what you should do to prepare:

  • Download any historical Converted clicks reporting stats that you want to keep. This is big. Once Google makes the change, this information will be gone forever. So for your records and planning purposes, download this data before it’s too late. Make sure to look at device-level, category-level, and product-level data — basically anything you think you may want to reference at a later date.
  • Revisit your targets. If you’re using Target CPA or Enhanced CPC, and your primary bid metric is set to converted clicks, you’ll need to update your settings for these options to “Conversions” by Sept. 21. Google has promised to send an automated migration tool to affected accounts, so keep an eye out for that.
  • Decide what counts — and for how long. If you want to update your settings manually, make sure you choose which conversion actions to measure using the “Conversions” column. You’ll still be able to track other actions in the “All conversions” column. Finally, set your conversion window and decide if you want to count multiple instances of a conversion after an ad click or just the first one.

See? Not so bad. Sunsetting Converted clicks is just the latest step in Google’s never-ending quest to improve its products, and accommodating the change is a snap.

Though you might be sad to bid converted clicks farewell, take solace in the fact that we’re moving towards a more consistent and informative AdWords experience. And for more ways to enhance performance measurement in AdWords, check out our articles on custom formulas and the crazy useful columns you’re (probably) not using.

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