In the current era of transformation, businesses grow and expand with advertisements and promotional campaigns. SEM ad campaigns use various SEM tools and creative ways to promote the businesses and raise traffic.
Google ads let your advertising campaigns reach the audience and direct traffic to your website with the best content marketing, digital marketing, and strategic methods. The auto-tagging feature is utilized to enable data collection from the traffic you get from Google Ads campaigns.
The major attraction of Google Ads is that it gives you complete control over the money you spend. If you want it for a day, you spend for that day, if it is for an ad, you spend for that ad, and if it is for the month, you spend accordingly. And most importantly, you pay only if someone clicks for an ad.
What does Auto Tagging mean?
You can use the auto-tagging functionality along with Google Analytics. It enables the automatic tagging of every ad to let the data be collected and segregated out of Google Analytics. You might get confused with the UTM tags if you are already aware of Google analytics.
However, UTM or Urchin Tracking Module codes are snippets of code attached to the end of URLs. They are manual tags, whereas auto-tagging is the opposite. Before getting into the discussion about them, let us know about GCLID.
What is GCLID and why Google needs it?
GCLID is the abbreviation for Google Click ID. Google uses this ID which Google Analytics can track and read. The UTM tagging feature passes only 5 parameters such as content, medium, source, campaign name, and campaign term. However, Google has various other data points that they pass from the GCLID to Google Analytics.
Once you log in to the Google Analytics account, you can view the Google Ads section under the Acquisition section. You can see every data related to the shopping, the ad group, etc. with GCLID. If Google Ads and Google Analytics are connected, you can also view the cost information. Once the auto-tagging feature is disabled and you choose UTM tagging, you can still view the data. But this is limited to the 5 parameters UTM can pass, as discussed above.
If you choose Auto-tagging and enable the linking of both Google Analytics, they can help you to get access to all the data points for in-depth analysis of your ads and know how they help you in bringing the website traffic.
In short, GCLID can monitor various types of data such as:
- Source of Traffic ie, SERP, Website, Web page, etc.
- Keywords and positioning
- Ad group
- Search Query
- Monitor the website conversions across every browser
- Enable the data import from Google Analytics and CRM systems to the Google ads
- Implement the Google Ad campaign and cost data importing to the Google Analytics reports
- Enable the data import of site engagement metrics of Google analytics like session duration, bounce rate, etc. to the Google ads reporting
If you want to use manual tagging to track the Google ads traffic, then you will need to enable the manual tagging in the Property settings of your Google Analytics account.
Auto-tagging is the best feature that helps you to incorporate conversion tracking for Google ads and Google analytics. It lets you know the effectiveness of the ad clicks that lead to conversions like signup, login, downloads, purchases, etc. You can track the conversions once you select the conversion source used to make these conversions.
You can monitor and track the offline conversions with auto-tagging, i.e. tracking if your online ads have led to sales in the physical store.
How it works
Once the user clicks on your ad, the auto-tagging feature includes some additional data to the URL, ie. a parameter which is known as GCLID, which is the Google click identifier as discussed already.
Let’s understand this with an example. If anybody clicks your particular ad for your website www.samplesite.com, the resultant URL will be something like this: www.samplesite.com/?gclid=567xyz. GCLID is then stored in the new cookie of your Google Analytics of your website domain if you have auto-tagging feature and Google analytics functions enabled.
Instead of clicking, at certain times, the impression can also lead to the creation of GCLID. In such circumstances, when a user clicks on the same ad, then it repeats the use of the same GCLID. These multiple clicks made by the same user for the specific ad are represented as the multiple clicks and entered in the same row.
When you turn on auto-tagging, some websites don’t let the random URL parameters. They might also lead to an error page while turning the auto-tagging on. If this happens you can check with the web developer or conduct a test by making an ad click after turning auto-tagging on.
You can utilize auto-tagging if the link to the website works. But if you receive an error page, you have to turn the auto-tagging off. Then you may get help from a web developer to let the arbitrary URL parameters in and then turning the auto-tagging on. Also, once your website has a redirect option, ensure that the GCLID is directed to the landing page to monitor and manage conversions.
If you are about to create a conversion action for the first time, then the auto-tagging feature will be automatically activated. However, if you use cross-account conversion tracking already, then you require using auto-tagging manually in all the child accounts.
How to Set up Auto-tagging
By default, auto-tagging will be turned off. To turn auto-tagging on, you may follow the steps as shown below. To import the data of Google Ads in Google Analytics, you can also use the manual tagging method if you are not able to use the auto-tagging.
- Login to your Google Ads account.
- Choose settings.
- Select Account settings.
- Go to the Auto-tagging section.
- Tick the check box after ‘Tag the URL that people click through from my ad’ to enable the auto-tagging.
- Save the changes.
How to check if auto-tagging works
Once you set up the auto-tagging, then the next process is to view and confirm if the GCLID tags are being included in the URLs of your paid advertisements.
You must ensure this because if you are not able to view the GCLID parameter along with the URL, then it probably means that your site fails to handle the parameter effectively. Now, to check whether the auto-tagging feature works properly, Google comes with some of the quick steps.
- Go to Google chrome and open another tab.
- In the Menu, select more tools, and choose the Developer tools Option.
- Now from the Developer Tools section, choose the Network tab.
- Here, you can view the HTTP requests for the loading page. Now, copy the final URL.
- In the Chrome address bar, paste the copied URL. But, don’t load the page.
- Also, include an auto-tagging parameter to test the address bar URL. For instance, http://www.demowebsite.com/?gclid=TeSter-567.
You may add a prefix & to the GCLID if the final URL has a question mark after the query parameter.
Now, include the GCLID code before the symbol, if the final URL consists of a hash function.
Then finally you may load the URL and observe the load of network requests.
When to use Auto-tagging
The most important fact to note is that the Google auto-tagging feature is compatible only with the Google analytics system. If you wonder about when to use auto-tagging with Google Analytics, then some factors let you decide whether auto-tagging suits you.
If you are using Google Ads and Google Analytics alone, then you should necessarily make use of the auto-tagging feature. It can help you track the data in real-time and save a lot of time and effort. If you don’t use any other platforms, you don’t have to be concerned about the compatibility of auto-tagging with those platforms.
But, if you don’t use any of these two platforms, then you will need to follow the manual tagging method. Auto-tagging provisions are available only when you use both Google Analytics and Ads.
Now, a question might pop up in your mind, what when you use Google Analytics, Google Ads, and a third-party platform. Under such situations, you can make use of the hybrid model that encompasses both auto-tagging and manual tagging capabilities. However, note that this doesn’t mean that you can perform manual tagging of URLs and turn auto-tagging on simultaneously. As per Google, you will face data discrepancies if you unexpectedly mix auto-tagging and manual tagging.
The best method you can use is to ensure the override of auto-tagging in your Google Analytics. So, if you don’t utilize manual UTM parameters, then automatic URL tracking will still be available with the auto-tagging feature. But, If you have specifically used the UTM tags in the URL, the Google analytics will include the manual tags by overriding the auto tags.
Just like the use of SEO metrics to track the SEO performance of a website or the enterprise SEO, you can use the auto-tagging feature to track the Google Ads traffic. If you ask which is better between UTM Tags and Auto-tagging mechanism, then it depends.
As already mentioned, it is ideal to go for an auto-tagging method if you work exclusively with Google Ads and Google Analytics. Now when you have either of the above tools and third-party platforms in use, then manual tagging sounds good.