BLOG

Google Ads Auto Tagging: Gain More Insights

Auto-tagging in Google Ads is a feature that will help you measure the performance of your ads on Google Search.

If you are still thinking about using Google Ads for your business, you may want to read this article: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pay-Per-Click.

Below is a comprehensive guide on using the Google Ads Auto-tagging feature.

What is auto-tagging in Google Ads?

Before learning how to use auto tags, let us first understand the automatic feature and how it can help your business.

Google Ads auto-tagging definition

Auto-tagging in Google Ads is a function that automatically adds a parameter or additional information to your URLs. This feature will assist you in tracking offline conversions and providing reports on the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns through Google Analytics and other website tracking tools.

Who should use Google Ads auto-tagging?

If you are paying for ads in Google, then this feature is for you. 

As a business owner, you would want to know the performance of your ads in the search engine. You will want to see if you are getting your money’s worth. You can use Google Analytics and similar performance-tracking tools to do this. With auto-tagging, data can efficiently pass on to Analytics. You can use the reports to evaluate your advertising strategies and take action based on the results. 

With auto-tagging, you can understand and determine how customer clicks from your ads result in online and offline conversions. These activities include online purchases, physical store purchases, app downloads, newsletter signups, phone inquiries, and more.  

What are the benefits of using Google Ads auto tagging?

As much as possible, we recommend using the auto-tagging feature versus manual tagging in Google ads. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Time-saving.  You don’t have to spend time manually coding every URL.
  2. Error-free codes.  Since the parameters are automatically-generated, you will eliminate possible errors when coding. 
  3. Data imports.  You can import Google Analytics information into Google Ads Conversion Tracking.
  4. Detailed reports.  Auto-tagging can provide richer and more comprehensive Google Analytics reporting than manual tagging.

How do I set up automatic tagging in Adwords?

Auto-tagging in Google Ads is disabled by default, but don’t worry; setting it up is very simple.    

1. Turn on Google Ads auto-tagging in your account settings.

To set up auto-tagging, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Google Ads and sign in to your account. 
  2. Click Settings on the left side of your page menu.
  3. Select Account settings.
  4. Go to the Auto-tagging section.
Settings and account settings > Google Ads Auto Tagging
  1. Check the box that says, “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad.”
  2. Click Save to enable auto-tagging.
Google Ads Auto Tagging  > Check the box

2. Link your Google Ads and Analytics accounts. 

Once you have enabled auto-tagging, be sure to link your Google Ads account with your Analytics account to start tracking the performance of your ads. 

The steps below are taken from this source: Link Google Analytics to a Google Ads manager account (MCC). To make it easier for you, we provided our own screenshots.

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account or manager account.
  2. Click the Tools and settings under the horizontal menu at the upper right corner of your account/browser.
  3. Under Setup, click Linked accounts.
Google Ads linked to Google Analytics
  1. For the sake of this illustration, I am using Google Analytics (GA4) and Firebase. Click Details next to it. 
Google Ads linked to Google Analytics GA4
  1. Click Link next to the property you want to link to your Google Ads manager account.
Google Ads linked to Google Analytics > Link
  1. There are two settings: If your Google Ads account is used by a Google Ads manager account that has linked to this property, you’ll also see a column showing which views are linked to that manager account. For this illustration, we enable both:
    1. Link: Link as many views as you’d like. This will make Google Ads click and cost data available in Analytics and the Analytics goals and transactions available in Google Ads. A different view can always be chosen in individually managed accounts.
    2. Import site metrics: Choose a view from which to import site engagement metrics. While this is optional, we recommend choosing one view that will be used to show site engagement metrics in the Google Analytics reporting columns of all of your managed accounts.
  2. Click Save.
Google Ads linked to Google Analytics > linking and importing metrics
  1. Repeat the steps above using your Google Analytics UA (Universal Analytics) account

Note: the screenshot above may be different from what you have. It really depends on the accounts and the access permission you have. 

What happens when you turn on auto tagging?

When you enable auto-tagging, Google automatically adds the GCLID parameter to your ad URL. This happens after someone clicks your ad. However, in some cases, the GCLID is created at the time of an impression or when your ad is displayed on the user’s screen.

After the GCLID is created, Google then stores this URL in a new Analytics cookie on your website’s domain. The cookie contains all the information about the interaction that will help you track ad conversions.  

How do I manually add a GCLID to my Google ad?

There is no need. Auto-tagging allows for the automatic creation of the GCLID parameter in your Google ad. As long as you enable auto-tagging, a GCLID will be added to your ad URL.  

How do I find my Gclid?

You will find your GCLID at the end of your final URL, usually preceded by a “?”. For instance, if your ad URL is www.ad.com, your final URL would be www.ad.com/?gclid=123abc once someone clicks on your ad. However, if your URL already has a parameter preceded by a “?”, then your GCLID will be preceded by a “&.”

Is Gclid only for Google Ads?

Yes, GCLID is only for Google Ads. This means that you won’t be able to use GCLID for your organic search and social traffic, as well as your Microsoft Ads.  

How do I check if auto-tagging is on?

If you are unsure if you have enabled auto-tagging in your ads, you can go to settings in your Google Ads account, followed by account settings, then auto-tagging. You can check these two items:

  1. If under Auto-tagging, it says Yes, and
  2. If the box that says “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad” is checked, it means that auto-tagging is on. If you want to disable it, you can uncheck the box and save the changes.   
Check if Google Ads Auto Tagging is ON or OFF

What data does auto-tagging collect?

Auto-tagging collects important data from your paid campaigns, including the source of traffic, such as search engine results and website pages. You will learn where the click happens, how many impressions or views your ad has, and more.

The feature generates search engine traffic information not only from Google but other search engines as well. It also gathers social media traffic information, Google Ads Campaign traffic, and website referral traffic.   

With auto-tagging, Analytics can capture more data and provide additional dimensions of Analytics that are not available in manual tagging.  

UTM Tagging vs. Google Ads Auto-Tagging

There are two ways to tag your ads in Google for performance tracking. These include UTM tagging or Google ads auto-tagging. Since we already know about auto-tags, let’s learn about UTM tagging so we can make a comparison.   

What is UTM tagging?

Urchin Tracking Module or UTM tagging manually adds parameters to a URL to acquire reporting data. Unlike Google auto-tagging, you have to manually set your parameters by hand or by using a URL generator with UTM tagging.

The available parameters in UTM tagging include campaign source, medium, name, term, and content.  

Example parameter: 

  • utm_source

Difference between UTM tagging and auto-tagging

Aside from the obvious manual and automatic creation of parameters, UTM and Google auto-tags differ in the dimensions or parameters they generate in performance-tracking tools like Google Analytics.

UTM (Manual)Auto-tagging (Automatic)
Medium
Source
Campaign
Content
Term
All UTM parameters
Hour of the day
Placements 
Keyword Positions 
Display Targeting
Shopping Campaigns
Video Campaigns

So which is better?

Auto-tagging can make your work easier and more convenient. It can provide you with more data to track your performance. However, Google auto-tagging only works with Google Analytics. Third-party tools, such as CRM software and other performance-tracking tools, won’t be able to read the GCLID parameter.

Therefore, adopting a tagging method depends on you and the scenario you are in.

  1. If you are not using any third-party tool and you use Google Analytics for performance tracking, then there is no doubt auto-tagging is the better option.  
  1. If you need to use third-party tools but also want to take advantage of the auto-tagging benefits, you can use both UTM and auto-tagging. To do this, be sure that you do the following:
    • Enable auto-tagging in your Google Ads account 
    • Ensure that manual tagging (UTM values) does not override auto-tagging (GCLID values). Additional detail on this is provided below.

Does manual tag override auto tag?

You can utilize both manual (UTM) tagging and auto-tagging.  

The manual tagging values can override the auto-tagging values, but it’s up to you if you let it.  

The hybrid method allows you to use both the UTMs and auto-tagging at the same time without overriding auto-tagging (gclid values). To achieve this, make sure the tagging override is off.

To manage the override feature, follow these steps using Universal Analytics:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Click the Admin tab on the left side of your page menu.
  3. Go to the property you wish to check.
  4. Under the Property column, select Property Settings.
Overriding Check if Google Ads Auto Tagging in Google Analytics
  1. Just below Advanced Settings, there’s an option that says, “Allow manual tagging (UTM values) to override auto-tagging (GCLID values).” (At this point in time, you cannot find this option in GA4.)
Overriding Check if Google Ads Auto Tagging in Google Analytics
  1. Click the box if you want the manual tag to override the auto tag. Leave it blank if you want to use the hybrid method (which allows you to use UTMs without overriding GCLID values. Remember that you can turn this feature on and off anytime you want.
  2. Click Save (found at the bottom).

Google Analytics gives you the option to enable or disable this override feature.  

A couple of points to consider:

  • Allow override if you want Google Analytics to use UTM whenever possible and only use the auto-tagged values once when a parameter is not specified using the UTM.
  • Do not allow override if you want Analytics to prioritize GCLID values and auto-tagging data while still allowing third-party tools to read UTMs for other purposes.

How do I stop Google Ads from auto-tagging?

To disable Google Ads auto-tagging, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Google Ads and sign in to your account. 
  2. Click Settings on the left side of your page menu.
  3. Select Account settings.
  4. Go to the Auto-tagging section.
  5. Uncheck the box that says, “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad.”
  6. Click Save to stop auto-tagging.

The above is practically the same steps as when turning on Google Ads auto-tagging in your account settings, except that you uncheck the box.

Conclusion

As a digital marketer, I always want to simplify things. Simplifying complicated stuff means it is easier to manage moving forward. Simplifying allows you to do other things that matter most for your business.

The Google Ads Auto Tagging feature simplifies your tracking and eliminates typical errors compared to manual tagging. You can automatically tag your ads and track their performance with just a few clicks. This feature will help you optimize your campaigns and get more insights. 

Google Ads Auto Tagging is a great way to save time and improve your campaigns. Why don’t you try it and let me know how it goes?

Twibi is leading the charge

The world moves fast, but Twibi evolves even faster, allowing us to always be a couple steps ahead of the trends.

We uncover innovative marketing opportunities and undiscovered audiences by leading with digital first. As the world advances quicker than ever before, we embrace these cultural changes as they inspire our work.

LOOKING FOR MORE LOVE FROM GOOGLE?