Server-side conversion tracking in Google Ads (Adwords)

Jun 6, 2024
Jan 22, 2021
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Server-side Tag Manager allows you to move your Google Ads conversion tracking tags from the webpage to server, which will help improve page load time and increase the accuracy of conversion tracking. Moving Adwords tags onto a server will reduce the amount of code that needs run in the webpages and aid with performance issues for slower internet connections as well!

In this article, I’ll show you how to set up Google Ads (AdWords) conversion tracking using Google Ads tag for the Google Tag Manager server container.

What Is Google AdWords Conversion Tracking?

Google Ads conversion tracking is a must if you want to have enough data to analyze your ad campaign results and give Google machine learning algorithms more information about your business goals. Google’s ML will use conversion data for smart bidding and showing your ads to the users most likely to convert.

It means that you need to specify these actions in Google Ads to track all valuable actions users can do on your site. I suggest adding not only purchases as conversions in AdWords. You might also set up micro-conversions such as add to cart, form submit, etc. You can select conversion action for each campaign separately inside the campaign settings. This conversion action will be included in the ‘Conversions’ column and will be used for Smart Bidding. 

Conversion tracking inside Google Ads (AdWords) account is crucial because it shows you which search terms, keywords, ads, or campaigns have the highest ROAS or lowest cost/conversion. 

The main benefits of adding conversions to AdWords are:

  • A better understanding of which keywords, ads, or extensions are working (and which ones are not).
  • More valuable data that you can use to optimize your ad campaigns.
  • Better insights into how to optimize your ads for boosting ROAS.
  • Ability to test smart bidding through Google Machine Learning algorithms.

How to set up Google Ads (Adwords) server-side tracking

Google released Google Ads Conversion tracking and Conversion linker tags for the Google Tag Manager server container in July 2021! You can now get more out of your Adwords account with the new change to server-side tracking. This means that you will have access to more reliable server tracking, making conversion data accurate!

Google Ads conversion tracking works only based on Google analytics 4 tag, meaning that is you want to set up ss Google Ads, you should configure server-side GA4. As opposite to Facebook, Google Ads do not support deduplication. So you should use either web or server tracking.

2. Set up server-side Google Analytics 4.

3. In the Server container set up the Conversion Linker tag. This tag should trigger on all pageviews. 

conversion linker tag google ads

4. Create a new Google Ads Conversion Tracking tag in the Server container -> add Conversion ID and Conversion Label similarly to the web Adwords tag setup. Then you have an option to add Product and User Data. (looks very similar to how Facebook conversion API works). If you send user and product data from the web to the server, then you can enable these checkboxes and select event data as a data source. My Adwords server conversion triggers on the purchase event. 

googl ads server-see purchase tag

5. That’s it for the server container. 

How to set up Enhanced Conversions for server Google Ads

You can set up enhanced conversion tracking in server-side Google Ads conversion tag. Meaning it's possible to send user data to Google Ads. Google says that enhanced conversion will improve the accuracy of conversion tracking and improve bidding. Google promises to keep user data secure and implements SHA256 to secure user data. 

When a customer performs an action on your website, such as completing the purchase process or signing up for email updates and communications - you may receive first-party data from them. This includes name/email address combo along with other personal information like home addresses phone numbers etc. It is possible to send hashed user data to Google.

6. In the web GTM, select or create a User-provided Data variable

user data enhanced conversion

7. Add a 'user_data' parameter with a User Provided Data variable that contains the user data available to you. You can add this to the Google Tag or to the event itself - depending on how available it is to you at the time of conversion.

User Provided Data variable that contains the user data available

8. Open server Google Tag Manager container -> Open server Google Ads conversion tag -> Enable Include user-provided data. 

enable enhanced conversion google ads server conversion tracking

How to set up Google ads product remarketing

Server Google ads product remarketing tag works based on the Google Analytics 4 product data. 

9. Open Google Ads Remarketing tag inside the server Google Tag Manager container and enable Send dynamic remarketing event data.

google ads product remarketing

10. To make dynamic product remarketing work, make sure that in the web Google Tag Manager, you've configured product data inside the Google Analytic 4 tags. 

product data google analytic 4

How to test Google Ads (Adwords) server-side tracking

11. First of all, test that the Google Ads Conversion tag triggered in the server container and the request it sent is correct.

test google ads server side tracking 

12. Check that the FPGCLAW cookie was added. It will work if you add the gclid parameter to the URL.

google ads server side cookies 


Setting up server side-tracking in Google Ads is not a difficult process, but it does take some time. You can set up this type of tracking by using the Google Ads tag for the server container or ss Google Analytics.

If you need help setting up either one, don’t hesitate to reach out by email! We have experience with both methods and would be happy to provide an estimate on how much it will cost if you are interested in our services.

Do any of these sound like something that could work for you? Let us know which method sounds best from the ones discussed today or let us know what your needs are so we can find the right solution for you.

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