Google AdWords Upgraded URLs and DTM Affiliate Links

If you are a paid search affiliate who earns money via DTM linking*, you have noticed the following alert in your Google AdWords account lately:

Google Adwords - Upgraded URLs

*For those not familiar with the lingo, in affiliate marketing “DTM linking” stands for direct-to-merchant linking of an affiliate’s paid search ad whereby the affiliate’s paid search traffic lands directly on the advertiser’s/merchant’s landing page (more here).

The savvier affiliates have already figured this one out, but with the deadline quickly approaching, I feel that it is necessary to clarify something for the confused affiliates:

This AdWords change will have no negative affect on paid search affiliates.

Google is not against the use of affiliate tracking URLs (or any third party tracking URLs). Per their How To Upgrade Your URLs article, a DTM affiliate paid search ad would fall into Group 3:

Google AdWords Upgraded URL Groups

We spoke with Adam Viener of imwave on the topic (of his expertise) and he clarified that you now “need to put your affiliate link in as your tracking URL and put the final landing page URL of the merchant in as the final URL.” With Google retiring the Destination URLs the Final URL now “needs to match the display URL.” We prepared the below screenshot/sample to illustrate how this should be done now:

Google Upgraded URLs and Affiliate Marketing

Adam’s further tip was to use “the latest AdWords Editor to make these changes. If you use their new post URL changes options your ads should keep running without going through a re-review process.”

To dive deeper into the subject (and see how to use the advanced options) read about managing “tracking and redirects in URL options” here, refer to Google’s step-by-step tool for building upgraded URLs, and/or check out WordStream’s guide to Everything You Need To Know About Upgraded URLs in AdWords.

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