How We Migrated 8.5M Ads to Upgraded URLs Without Losing Performance

July 1st was Google’s deadline for its Upgraded URLs, promising to make life easier for marketers in the long run. Up to this date, however, advertisers had to deal with migrating hundreds of thousands of URLs, while ensuring that performance was not suffering. Whereas some advertisers struggled due to the workload, bugs and other hurdles, we managed to migrate 19 million keywords and 8.5 million ads without loss. In the following, I will explain how we managed to do this. 

Avoiding the Ad Review Process by Using the Basic Upgrade Method

In February, Google announced its Upgraded URLs and made several upgrading options available. We opted for the Basic update: Using this method, existing ads continue to be eligible without the hassles of the migrated ads entering the ad policy review process.

Note: Down to the present day, July 7th, the upgrade mechanism still works – as opposed to Google’s announcement – providing advertisers with the chance to still execute the Basic upgrade method for their ads.

This is crucial, as entering the review process can hit account performance quite seriously:

  1. It can take up to days without the ads being served
  2. Ads that previously complied with the Google ad policies can now be rejected – with advertisers having to write new ads in a worst case scenario
  3. Quality score can drop and thus cause higher CPCs and less traffic

That said, executing the transition imposed a serious threat to our existing customers’ accounts and had to be handled with extreme care.

Before migrating the ads, we had to work on the keywords – choosing to make the upgrade semi-automatic. We created a tool that downloaded the whole accounts’ keywords, converted existing URLs and returned several Excel files for re-upload. This way, we were able to upgrade tons of keywords in bulk mode while our Account and Campaign Managers were able to conduct additional quality assurance checks.

Using Workarounds for Google Bugs

For ads, we chose to fully automate the process, using the Basic update. With ads, AdWords makes sure that you only post upgrades with identical URLs. As long as the new Tracking Template and Final URL equal the old Destination URL, an ad could be upgraded without entering the ad policy review process.

This was, at times, quite cumbersome, as AdWords had bugs in its upgrading routines. Our developers collaborated on a daily basis with their Google counterparts to tackle the problem – and came up with workarounds in the meantime. If you’re interested in the workarounds, you can read about it in our blog post „Upgraded URL: Workaround for Basic Upgrade Error“.

Copy Ads that Cannot be Upgraded – Make the Policy Review Process Safe

Yet, we had to use the following method for some of the ads that would simply not upgrade. This method can still be used after July 1st – and we highly recommend that you use it for high traffic ad groups that have not gone through the upgrade yet.

  1. Leave existing ads with the old destination URL live – no need to worry: they will stop serving only within some months.
  2. Create a copy of the ad – and assign it a Final URL. The new ad can enter the policy review process safely – with the old ad being served in the meantime.


In the end, we managed to upgrade no less than 19 million keywords and 8.5 million ads, successfully finishing the migration for all of our clients without any performance cuts or losses of quality score whatsoever.

How did you experience the upgrade?


Alexander Paluch

Alexander has several years of experience as an IT consultant and Product Owner in the e-commerce industry. Today he works as a Senior Product Manager for crealytics.

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