Google announced updates to Google Ads Customer Match availability and Google Ads API during the last few months. These updates aim to improve reporting that was affected by the April update, which removed unique click identifiers from IOS traffic to comply with Apple App Tracking Transparency restrictions.
This post explains what changed, how Google improved reporting by the Customer Match roll-out and Google Ads API v9 changes and what advertisers can do to understand sources of their sales while staying compliant with Apple tracking restrictions.
Apple forced app vendors to stop sending identifier that can be uniquely traced to a user. To solve tracking needs, Google replaced its old Google click identifier (GCLID) with new parameters that can't be used to track user. This meant that all old ways of tracking conversions such as Google Ads API integrations sending GCLIDs won't work for paid traffic coming from IOS native apps such as YouTube.
Official Google announcement said the following:
We recently introduced a new URL parameter to help comply with Apple’s policies and help you measure the results of your ads on iOS. This new parameter will help you attribute conversions back to your ad campaigns and works with conversion modelling to give you accurate measurement on iOS.
This feature remained out of reach for most advertisers as Google kept the crucial functionality required to use conversion modelling restricted to a subset of large enterprise advertisers.
Two major Google Ads changes happened recently, allowing most advertisers to take advantage of these features.
Because ad clicks no longer contain unique identifier, another method has to be used to attribute and report conversions. Customer Match combines different bits of data that allow Google to model conversion attribution based on imperfect information. In particular, it uses
- WBRAID or GBRAID parameter, which is an identifier that complies with Apple App Tracking Transparency and anonymizes individual behind the click. It allows Google to deduct what group of users it belongs to without tying click to a specific person explicitly.
- Email and phone. Google uses these two identifiers to understand which user interacted with the ad.
Combining these data allows Google to model conversions by modelling, which of its users likely have done the click that led to the conversion.
Non-unique identifier alone doesn't let to trace conversion to a specific click, while email and phone may not be traceable to a known Google user. Combining these data allows Google to guess which of the clicks conversions should be attributed to, recovering IOS conversions that were previously omitted from reporting and audience optimization without infringing users' privacy.
While Customer Match had only been available to large enterprise corporate customers historically, its been rolled out to all accounts with good compliance history. You should expect to see something along the following lines in the Google Ads dashboard:
If this notification didn't appear, email your Google Ads account manager to allowlist your Google Ads account for the feature - or simply try Able to see if your account is already allowlisted.
Google Ads API v9 - November 2021 update
Google Ads API v9 was released in November 2021. The API added support for WBRAID and GBRAID tracking parameters in addition to the user identifiers used for Customer Match previously.
Able Google Ads API integration uses Google Ads API v9 to send entire supported set of Customer Match user identifiers: WBRAID or GBRAID parameter, as well as customer's email and phone. GCLID is also used when its available.
For front-end tracking, Able CDP tracking should be installed on the website to capture WBRAID / GBRAID parameters and associate them with customer details.
Then, Able sends each conversion to Google Ads API. It's important to note that even when a conversion happens offline or on the back-end, Able attributes it to the previously recorded WBRAID and GBRAID parameters (or a GCLID if available), which treats it effectively as an online activity.
This allows Google to utilize its conversion modelling in the same way it can do it for a regular online activity. Even if the click doesn't have unique identifier, Google Ads will attribute it with sufficient precision by combining the following parameters instead:
- WBRAID / GBRAID, which are anonymized device identifiers compliant with Apple privacy restrictions
- customer email and phone
This process allows to recover attribution for most of the conversions and have them displayed in the Google Ads reports correctly. It is achieved by tracing the conversion attributed to WBRAID/GBRAID by Able CDP back to the original click within Google Ads reporting engine and attributing it based on the WBRAID allocation logic Google Ads uses. While the exact percentage of IOS traffic attributed by this approach varies, it's the best option available at the moment for tracking IOS conversions in Google Ads.
In addition to the Google Ads API integration described above, Able CDP integration with Facebook Conversions API solves tracking of Facebook IOS traffic without FBCLIDs by sending Facebook Pixel browser id, as well as, optionally, personal data that can be used for matching.