Making the Most of Custom URL Parameters on Google Ads

by | Nov 14, 2016 | Marketing

Google Ads specialists and online marketers alike are well versed Custom URL parameters. But very few use this powerful resource because most of the data being captured in a custom URL can only be viewed through an Analytics report.

But for the elite few who make use of lead management software that captures these variables, there are a few added benefits. Linking customers to keywords, ads, ad groups, campaigns, and devices is invaluable when making marketing decisions to reach your business goals.

Which URL Tracking parameters are available

Google has the following ValueTrack variables available for use. But the most common, and most helpful Value track parameters are – Networks, Devices, Keywords, Ads, Placements and custom tags for Ad Groups.


The network parameter is helpful if your campaigns don’t have a distinct naming structure that helps identify whether or not it’s display or search. Many Google Ads specialists start their campaign names with “S” (or something similar) for search and “Dsp” (or something similar) for their display campaigns.

To capture the network variable, you will include the following parameter:


Replace [value], with your desired variable, for example:


Example of a network variable URL tracking template:

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?{ifsearch:[search]}{ifcontent:[display]}

Results URL:

Because only one of these Google Ads parameters will be triggered by your ad, only one (search or display) will appear in the final URL.

Keywords and match types

When using the keywords and match types variables, your goal is to see which keywords and match types triggered your ad and resulted in a click or conversion.

You will use the {keyword} variable in your tracking template. If you want to add the match type variable, you will include {matchtype} in your tracking template.

In search campaigns the {keyword} variable will give you the specific keyword that resulted in a click. And in display campaigns the {keyword} variable will give you the best matching keyword.

Example of a keyword and match type tracking template:

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?keyword={keyword}&matchtype={matchtype}

Results URL:

Google’s parameter codes for the match types are “b” for broad or modified broad, “p” for phrase, or “e” for exact match.


If your goal is to see which ads resulted in converting the highest value customers you will include the {creative} ValueTrack parameter.

Example of tracking template:

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?creative={creative}

Results URL:

Keep in mind that Google will only send the Ad ID within the URL. To find the specific ad with the id, you’ll need to modify your Ads view in Google Ads and add the Ad ID from the Attributes tab.


The placement variable is useful when you want to target high ROI placements on the Display Network.

Google will only include whichever placements you’ve selected for your display campaign and not the full URL.

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?placement={placement}

Results URL:


Though mobile is growing throughout the world as the number one platform on which searches and purchases are being completed, you might want to know whether or not your most valuable clients are coming from mobile devices.

To include device data to your URL, you will include the {device} ValueTrack parameter.

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?device={device}

Results URL:

Google will replace {device} with “m” if your traffic is generated from mobile devices, “t” if from tables and “c” when from computers.

Custom parameters

To include custom Google ads parameters in your URL’s, such as ad groups, you will need to create the custom variable {_adgroup} and manually add it to the various ad groups within your campaigns. You can do this through the Google Ads interface or through Google Ads Editor.

Building your URL template

Before you create your first URL, you need to determine what data will be invaluable to make business goal driven decisions on your marketing efforts. A good place to start would be to look at your account structure.

Your campaign may be split to target specific areas, with the same ad groups and keywords. This usually occurs when your customer has different branches. Or, your client has set aside different budgets for specific products or services based on their ROI. Whatever the case may be, your URL tracking template will reflect the structure of your Ads account.

Start your URL template with {lpurl}. This is a variable that will dynamically add your landing page’s URL. This is extremely important if you have different landing pages to use this variable.

Tagged URL: {lpurl}?geo={_geo}&campaign={_campaign}&adgroug={_adgroup}&keyword={keyword}&ad={creative}&netork={ifsearch:[value]}{ifcontent:[value]}

If this process seems too long, you can always use a URL builder to create your custom url to implement on your website. Keep in mind that you will still need to add some of Google’s custom variables.

How to add your template to Google Ads

Below is a short video on how to add your custom variables to your Google Ads campaigns, using the Google Ads Editor interface. I prefer using Editor because it speeds up the process of tagging ad groups and campaigns with the relevant variables.

Final Note

Google recently announced Parallel Tracking, which will increase the speed at which landing pages with tracking templates will load.

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