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Server Side Conversions Tracking with the Google Ads Tag

Tracking the conversions of your Google Ads campaigns is crucial if you want to be successful with your online campaigns. The ‘conversions tracking’ tag in Google Tag Manager allows you to track how often visitors perform certain actions on your website, such as placing an order or filling out a form. This allows you to measure and optimize the effectiveness of your ad campaigns, as you can see which ads and keywords led to more conversions.

You can also set different conversion goals, such as purchases, signups or phone calls, and track how well your ads perform in meeting these goals. Doing this will help you better understand which ads work and which keywords lead to more conversions. In addition, Google’s algorithms better understand your website and business goals using the conversions you have set. As a result, your campaigns (Performance Max, for example) are going to perform better. These are just a few examples of what Google Ads Conversion Tracking can add to your strategy. In this blog, we will explain to you step by step how to set up the Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag server side in Google Tag Manager.

Due to intelligent tracking preventie (ITP) of various browsers (and adblockers), it becomes more difficult to continue to measure your conversions properly via the current setup in Google Tag Manager (client side). In fact, ITP and Adblockers can block data flow. This ensures that you cannot record all conversions. Server side tagging (SST) is the method to minimize the effect of ITP and Adblockers. With TAGGRS, you can easily implement server side tagging and continue to use your current GTM account (slightly modified). In this tutorial, you will learn how to measure server side conversions with the Google ads tag.

Curious about the entire Google Ads Server Side Tracking setup? Then check out this page.

Set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag.

Step 1: Conversion settings

Within your Google Ads account, go to > Tools and settings > Conversions.

google ads settings

Step 2: Conversion action

Click on the conversion action you want to measure. Haven’t created a conversion action yet? Then click ‘New Conversion Action’ and give the action a name. Then you can choose what type of conversion you want to track, such as a purchase or a contact inquiry. Then specify the value of the conversion and choose the appropriate category.

google-ads-conversion-settings

Step 3: Set conversion tag

Once you’ve selected the conversion action, click “Set Tag” and choose “Use Google Tag Manager. Next, the Conversion ID and Conversion Label come into view. We need these.

conversion tag setup-google-ads

Step 4: Create Tag

Go to your server container in Google Tag Manager. Then go to “Tags” and click on “New.
Note: In this description, we assume that you are using GA4 to get data into the server container. Haven’t set this up yet. Then start with step 1 of the four-part implementation series for GA4.

workspace-google-tag-manager

Step 5: Choose Tag

Click ‘Tag Configuration’ and select ‘ Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag ‘ as the tag type.

type-tag-choose-google-tag-manager

Are you getting the message below on the screen? Then add the conversion linker. Read this blog for setting the ‘Conversion tag Linker’.

notification-no-conversion-linker-tag-container-google tag-manager

Step 6: Set Tag

Once you have created the Conversion Linkertag, you can move on to setting it up. Copy the Conversion-ID and Conversion label from Google Ads and put them here.

Then, under conversion value, you can enter a variable that represents the value of the conversion. For web shops, this is often the datalayer variable: value. You can also fill these in statically. For example, if your conversion is always worth 300 euros, you can enter that number. Or you can leave it blank, in which case the value is filled in automatically (only if it is available in the GA4 event data).

Under currency code, you also have 3 options. A dynamic variable, a static value (if selling only in Euros you can fill in EUR here, for example) or have it filled in automatically based on the GA4 event data.

google-tag-manager-tag-configuration-google-ads-tag

In addition, there are three more check boxes you can check to send additional data along with your conversions. These are of particular interest to web shops. With this, you can make Google smarter. You send along additional data so Google gathers more insights about your customers. For these to function properly, it is essential to have a (GA4) data layer present on the website/shop.

Step 7: Create Trigger

Click on “Triggers” and then click on the plus sign in the upper right corner. In this blog, we will assume that you want to use purchases on your website as triggers. If you want to measure a different conversion (registration, application, forms, shopping cart, etc.) it works the same way, but with a different event/trigger.

trigger-aanmaken-google-tag-manager

Step 8: Choose type of trigger

Name the trigger and click ‘Trigger Configuration’. Next, select “Custom Event” as the trigger type.

type-trigger-choose-google-tag-manager Google Tag Manager

Step 9: Set Trigger

Under name of event, enter purchase. Select ‘Some custom events’ under ‘This trigger is triggered by’. Then select [Event name] [is gelijk aan] [purchase] . Save the trigger and then the tag.

Note that if you also send Universal Analytics data to the server container, the event purchase may fire twice. In that case, specify in the trigger that the Client Name – equals – GA4 (or Universal Analytics).

trigger setup-google tag manager

As a conversion action in Google Ads, have a specific url, such as a thank you page. You cannot choose this as a trigger type in the server container. To do this, you need to create a new variable. Create a new variable and choose Event Data as the Variable Type. Next, enter page_location as the key path. The variable is now ready.

create-variable-thank-you-page-server-container

Next, we are going to create the corresponding trigger. Create a new trigger. Under Trigger Configuration, choose Pageview and make sure the trigger is fired on the page you want to measure and use the variable you just created. You then add this trigger as a trigger to your Google Ads conversion event.

create-trigger-thank-you-page-server-container

And voila! You have now successfully installed the Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag in Google Tag Manager and can now measure and optimize the effectiveness of your Google Ads campaigns. By tracking conversions, you can better understand which ads and keywords are working and which conversion targets are most effective. Nice going! Also see how you can use Google Ads remarketing.

Testing Conversions Google Ads

For testing, it is recommended that you first run your new Server Side Tracking configuration parallel to your current set up in the Web container. Server Side conversion often reports fewer conversions in the first 2 weeks because it does not yet have historical data. The client side tag often still writes to itself conversions that clicked on the campaign in the previous days/weeks. You can run both conversions in parallel (primary conversion) since Google Ads automatically deduplicates them, which ensures that no duplicate conversions are measured. Then, once it appears to be measuring correctly, you can keep the Server Side Tracking conversions at primary and remove or set the web container conversions to secondary. By taking this approach, you ensure that your active campaigns continue to run unhindered, even if unexpected problems arise.

Don’t forget to put the container live!


About the author

Ate Keurentjes

Ate Keurentjes

Server Side Tracking Specialist at TAGGRS

Ate Keurentjes is a Server Side Tracking specialist at TAGGRS. He has experience with various Google Tag Manager concepts. Keurentjes has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in data collection / Server side tracking since 2023.

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