If you’re wondering why the UTM report is empty for a Google Ads conversion, it is because you have only implemented “Auto-tagging” in Google Ads.
To work with other analytics tools that is not from Google (like our AFL UTM Tracker plugin), you would need to implement “Hybrid-tagging”. It is a combination of “Auto-tagging” and “Manual-tagging”.
What is “Auto-tagging” & its drawback?
With an “Auto-tagging” mode, Google Ads will only append the “gclid” parameter to the landing page URL without the UTM parameters.
Since Google Ads does not append the UTM parameters to the URL, any other non-Google analytics tools will not be able to get the campaign information instantly.
Only Google’s own services like Google Ads and Google Analytics will be able to interpret the campaign information (Source/Medium and Campaign) based on the gclid value.
Yet recently, Google has delayed the availability of the conversion report by a few days.
Many digital marketers have complained that Google Ads is delaying the conversion report anywhere between 24-48 hours.Source: Reddit and Facebook Groups
With the delay in Google Ads and Google Analytics reporting, marketers are unable to perform real-time decisions on where to best spend their Ad budget.
The more serious drawback
- Since 2017, Apple has implemented “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” (ITP) in the Safari browser which deletes cookies within 24-hours if your website is using cross-site tracking and third-party cookies. This means that Google is no longer able to report accurate conversion coming from Apple devices like iPhone and MacBook.
- Since iOS 14, Apple has implemented “App Tracking Transparency” (ATT) where Ad platforms will no longer attached a tracking click identifier (e.g gclid, fbclid, msclkid) to the landing page URL when user has opted-out from tracking. This means that Google will not have any accurate report of the conversion from iOS based devices.
- Privacy-based browsers like Brave are not allowing websites to read the gclid value.
With all the drawbacks from “Auto-tagging”, digital marketers are actively sourcing for an alternative method of tracking conversions.
In addition, because analytic tools (other than Google’s own tools) are unable to extract the campaign information from the gclid value in real-time, digital marketers are now forced to use manual UTM parameters.
What is “Manual-tagging”?
With “Manual-tagging”, you would need to include your own UTM parameters in your Google Ads. This can be done in the Final URL or Tracking Template section when setting up your Ads.
With this mode alone, technically you would disable the “Auto-tagging” feature in Google Ads.
But why disable “Auto-tagging” when you can use it together with “Manual-tagging”? Digital marketers are now calling it “Hybrid-tagging”.
What is “Hybrid-tagging”?
With “Hybrid-tagging”, you would use a combination of “Auto-tagging” and “Manual-tagging” in your Google Ads Final URL or Tracking Template.
You will manually provide the UTM parameters values into the landing page URL.
- For the first time, do test on a new campaign until you are familiar with “Hybrid-tagging”. You don’t want to accidentally kill your active ads.
- In Google Ads, enable the “Auto-tagging” setting.
- In Google Analytics, DO NOT checked the “Allow manual tagging (UTM values) to override auto-tagging (GCLID values)”.
- UTM Tagging vs Auto-Tagging for Google Ads by McGaw.io – Guides and Examples