Upgraded URL: Workaround for Basic Upgrade Error

On July 1st, Google will begin the final phase-in of its Upgraded URL migration. As a reminder, Upgraded URLs let you enter the landing page portion of your URL and your tracking information separately in AdWords. This is already live for Google Shopping campaigns and now we’re in the final phase for Google Search campaigns. In order to keep your ad performance data after the upgrade (impressions, clicks, etc.) and to not trigger a policy review of your ads, there are different upgrade options, amongst others the manual upgrade option ‘Basic’. It seems though that AdWords is still struggling with an error for this upgrade option. We have worked out a workaround which at least in most cases makes one-time redirects possible. 

Basic Upgrade Rejecting Ads

In a couple of days Google will begin the migration to Upgraded URLs, splitting the target URL into a final landing page URL and tracking template parameters. However, you need to keep in mind that any ad change leads to a new ad. This is important because your existing ad’s history will be lost and the new ad will go through a review process which takes time. If you have large accounts, this is a step you would rather want to skip.

Fortunately, Google has thought of this and has a solution for us called basic upgrade (group 2). Basic upgrade allows you to substitute the current Destination URL by its corresponding Tracking template and Final (mobile) URL counterparts.

This unfortunately can get pretty ugly. The AdWords team seems to have taken it a little too far when comparing the old Destination URL with the new combination of template and Final URL. At least that’s our impression, as we are seeing many ads being rejected due to a “URL_NOT_EQUIVALENT” error from AdWords.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of documentation on what AdWords expects. Our best guess currently is, that it’s some kind of URL encoding problem.

Workaround: Encoding URL Parameter Values Twice

We have been able to work around a significant number of cases by simply encoding the URL parameter values one more time than they’re supposed to be.

An example:

Final URL:

http://www.example.com?q=g%C3%BCrtel (a UTF-8 encoded ü)

“Enhanced version”:

http://www.example.com?q=g%25C3%25BCrtel (a doubly UTF-8 encoded ü)

This led to a working migration in most cases, at least for one-time redirects. It didn’t work when there were two or more redirects in the tracking template, though. Google is aware of this bug and is working on a fix. But there’s currently no date when it will be fixed. This is quite frustrating given that the basic migration method only works until July 1st.

In addition, the AdWords API team just announced to temporarily limit the number of AdGroupAd ADD operations that can be performed on an advertiser account per day, making it trickier if you are uploading a very large amount of new ads in a short period of time.

If you have experienced similar problems or would like to share a tip especially for dealing with multiple redirects, just leave us a comment!


Udo Gröbner

Developer at the crealytics innovation hub. Interested in new technologies, pragmatic solutions and stuff that works.

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