Google Changes Ad Click Referrers

Chris CrumAdvertising

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Google announced on Friday that it is updating the referer of ad clicks in an effort to improve security and system reliability for Google Search users.

Beginning next month, the referrer for "many" ad clicks will contain the Google domain from which the click occurred, such as https://www.google.com or https://www.google.ca. They will no longer be communicating specific paths like google.com/aclk or googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk.

"While the referrer will no longer differentiate Google’s organic search clicks from ad clicks, and in some cases may be absent entirely, there are still multiple strategies to track the origin of your clicks," Google said in a Google+ post.

The company suggests using auto-tagging (gclid), custom campaign parameters (utm), and/or ValueTrack parameters.

Google says the change is a continuation of its general user security efforts, adding that users are safer when sites use HTTPS rather than HTTP.

"By default, browsers do not pass a referrer from HTTPS sites to HTTP sites, the company says in the post. "To minimize advertiser disruption, we implemented a custom ads solution back when the Google search page migration to HTTPS took place. Now, many modern web browsers provide better control over referrer behavior via the meta referrer tag. This development is an improvement over our previously-implemented custom ads solution both in terms of reliability and latency."

Google began using HTTPS as a ranking signal in search last year.

Image via Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.