Google Ads Conversion Tracking with Google Tag Manager

Google Ads aren’t free — but they’re only worth the money if you can use them to actually generate more conversions and grow your business!

With Google Ads conversion tracking, you evaluate your ad campaigns by tracking user interactions on your website. When you compare this data to your budget, you’ll be able to allocate your resources more effectively. This is a great way to track your conversion goals!

In this guide, we’ll learn how to set up conversion value tracking using Google Ads and Google Tag Manager.

An overview of what we will cover:

So let’s get started!

Why Install Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Google Ads conversion tracking helps to analyze how the audience for a particular campaign is behaving on your website. 

How so?

In Google Ads, conversion tracking measures the success of ad campaigns by tracking newsletter signups, app downloads, product purchases, and more. Any conversion you specify can be traced back to an ad campaign higher in the funnel.

One way to track ads conversions is by importing data from Google Analytics to Google Ads.

However, we’ll master tracking conversions from Google Ads explicitly. (More on Google Ads conversion tracking vs. imported Google Analytics goals here.)

For tracking conversions within Google Ads, we’ll install the Google Ads tracking code with Google Tag Manager. GTM will then collect and send this data back to the Google Ads account.

This is a more sophisticated and controlled way of tracking conversions in Google Ads compared to importing goals from Google Analytics. In this method, the data is gathered by the conversion pixel, which is made specifically for Google Ads.

Thus, the attribution of the data will be different from the tracking in Google Analytics. 

Different in this case doesn’t mean better or more accurate data. Attribution is just a different perspective of looking at the data.

Let’s begin by installing conversion tracking on a demo eCommerce shop. 

Setup Inside Google Ads Interface

For this example, we have the Google Tag Manager already set up on our website. But you can install Google Tag Assistant Legacy on your website for linking Google Tag Manager to the website page. 

Accessing Google Tag Manager from the Google Tag Assistant Legacy plugin

Additionally, we’ll also be using our Google Ads account along with Google Tag Manager. Link your email IDs to both of these accounts so you can install and import data easily. 

Let’s open our Google Ads account. From the home screen, go to Tools → Conversions

Accessing conversions option from the tools section of the Google Ads account

This section will show us all the conversion tracking data over the past few weeks linked to this account. 

Let’s understand how to set up the data in this section! 

4 Ways to Set it Up

Depending upon the goal of your conversion tracking for a campaign, the method to set up the tracking will also differ. 

For example, you can choose App or Phone calls tracking mechanisms if these are some of the primary tools for your marketing and growing your business. But for this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to use the Website conversion tracking mechanism.

Choosing website conversion tracking method from the Google Ads account

Once done, you’ll need to add a new conversion action for this method. 

Let’s see how! 

🚨 Note: The Import option is for adding conversions from your Google Analytics goals or another system. This process is very different from the Website, App, and Phone calls mechanisms, so the rest of this guide won’t apply to the Import method. However, if you do use this method, you can link it to the conversion tracking data in Google Analytics

Selecting the Google Analytics option to import goals and transactions to the Google Ads account

This method is particularly useful when you already have the correct eCommerce tracking and the transaction goals set up on the website. This way, you’ll be able to track conversions without explicitly adding any more tracking methods. 

Create Conversion Action

First, you’ll need to add a Conversion name

Configuring conversion name in the website conversion action

Then, we’ll choose a Category for this conversion data. This is very important for the Google Ads model, as it will attribute the conversion to a source in accordance with your chosen category. 

As our demo website is an eCommerce shop, we’ll choose Purchase/Sale

Configuring category field in the website conversion action

Next, we’ll set up the Value of the items we’re selling on our website. We recommend choosing the option to Use different values for each conversion

Additionally, in case you’re not using dollars as your currency on the website, you can also add the default value of your currency in accordance with a dollar. 

We’ve kept the default value as 1 in this case. 

Next, you can choose the conversion Count. This option is useful when a user converts multiple times within a single session. 

You can choose an option to either count that conversion once, or you can count it every time. In this case, we’ve chosen to count it Every time. 

Configuring conversion value and count in the website conversion action

There are some more conversion configurations that we need to set up. 

The Conversion window is the duration up to which conversion is considered valid. 

For example, if a user clicks on the ad, and comes back to the website after 20 days, and then makes a conversion, it can be considered. 

You can keep it as any value from 1 day to 90 days. In our case, we’ve kept the original Conversion window of 30 days

Next, we’ll fill the View-through conversion window. This parameter will track conversion if a user sees your ad, but doesn’t click on the ad or make a conversion instantly. 

We’ll keep this parameter also to its default value, 1 day

Next, we’ll have the option to Include in “Conversions”. Enabling this option will show our data on the conversions column on the Google Ads account. Let’s keep this as the default, Yes

The last option is to choose the Attribution model. This option depends upon your campaign, but the Last click model has been the default for a long time. As most of the databases still use this model, we’ll go with the default choice. 

Once done, click on Create And Continue.  

Configuring conversion window and attribution model in the website conversion action

Our next step will be to set up this method in Google Tag Manager. 

Let’s see how!

Set Up Inside Google Tag Manager

First, we’ll need to choose a method to install this conversion data. For this example, we’ll choose the option to Use Google Tag Manager

Upon clicking, we’ll see the account data on the screen. 

Using Google Tag Manager to install data conversion data in Google Ads

Let’s keep this tab open for future reference and open Google Tag Manager to install our conversion data on that page. 

Install Conversion Linker Tag

We’ll start by creating a new Conversion Linker Tag. This is a Tag type that you need to explicitly install because of the tracking mechanism of the browser. 

This Tag enables the website to encrypt the information in the form of a cookie that search engines can easily pick up. 

Once done, we’ll also add a trigger to this Tag. Our trigger type will be All Pages

You can give this Tag a Name and Save it once done. 

Creating a conversion linker Tag with an all pages trigger on Google Tag Manager

Let’s see how this Tag works by going into preview mode

Entering the Preview mode to test the trigger on Google Tag Manager

Let’s test the Tag now! 

Testing

First, we’ll refresh our website in preview mode and verify if the Tag fired correctly. 

Verifying fired conversion linker fired Tags in Google Tag Manager

Once the Tag is successfully set up, the next step would be to plan which page load should trigger our conversion. 

Plan Which Page Load Should Trigger Your Conversion

Let’s purchase a product from our page to verify a successful conversion. 

Once we’re on the thank you page, we can see that the URL string (order-received) suggests that the conversion occurred successfully. 

Checking URL string for order received confirmation on the eCommerce website

Thus, we can use a URL trigger to track a successful conversion. 

Let’s see how to create the URL trigger! 

Create Your Trigger

Create a Page View new trigger in Google Tag Manager. 

Since we only want the trigger to fire on successful conversions, we’ll set it up to fire on Some Page Views

Next, we’ll keep the conditions for the trigger to fire as the Page URL contains order-received

Configuring a page view trigger for set to fire for some pages in Google Tag Manager

We’ll save the trigger once done. 

In order to successfully deploy the Google Ads conversion tracking, we’ll also need to set up a Tag. 

Create Your Tag

We’ll create a new Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag. 

Next, add the Conversion ID and the Conversion Label. You can copy and paste these from Google Tag Manager. 

Once done, you can leave all the other labels to the default settings. 

Finally, we’ll add a trigger to this Tag. This will be a pageview trigger for the order received in a category that we just created. 

Configuring a page view trigger to a Tag in Google Tag Manager

You can save the Tag and refresh the page to preview it again in debug mode. 

And verify if it is working correctly.

Testing

We’ll go back to our website page and open the order confirmation page. Next, refresh the page to see if the Tag fires. 

If the Tag is installed correctly, you’ll see the conversion tracking Tag fire on our order confirmation page. 

Verifying the fired conversion tracking Tags from Google Tag Manager

Additionally, you’ll also be able to see this on your Google Tag Assistant extension from the browser. 

Verifying the fired conversion tracking Tags from Google Tag Assistant

If you click on the Tag in your Tag Assistant, you’ll also see how the tracking conversion data was deployed. 

Accessing conversion data from the Google Tag Assistant Legacy plugin

Lastly, Submit this setup as a version in order to see these changes on your live website. 

Submitting a final version of Tags and triggers to make live on the eCommerce website

With this step, the Google Ads conversion tracking is deployed on all the order-received pages on our website. 

However, if you check the table for conversion actions from the Google Ads home screen, you’ll notice that the status column for our tracking will be Unverified

Examining the status of the tracking columns for conversion Tags in Google Analytics

The column will verify itself once the actual conversions take place on your website. 

This means, when a person watches your ad, clicks on the product link from the ad, and then purchases that ad, Google Ads will consider it as a conversion. 

However, If you simply reload your order confirmation page or purchase a product directly from your cart, this won’t be counted as an effective conversion. 

Once you have conversions coming to your website, you can also add that conversions column to your reports of ad groups. 

On your home screen of Google Ads, go to Ad Groups → Columns → Conversions

Adding a conversion column to the tracking columns of ad groups in Google Ads

This will add a Conversions column to your reports. 

Viewing a conversion column to the tracking columns of ad groups in Google Ads

Limitations of This Setup and Conversion Value

This method shows the total number of conversions done on the website. However, this setup can’t show us the total amount that the conversions generated. 

Hence, you won’t be able to analyze the amount of money you spent on a campaign versus the amount of money it generated. 

These calculations are very important when it comes to your ROI analysis. 

But there is a workaround to this problem — you can add a conversion value to your setup. 

Optional Step – Capture Conversion Value Using the Data Layer

Let’s open the conversion tracking Tag for the received orders we installed on our Google Tag Manager account. 

We have an option to add the Conversion Value and the Order ID of the received order in our Tag. 

Configuring the conversion value and order ID for the received order in a Tag in Google Tag Manager

We want this value to be equal to the total amount we’ll generate from any particular order. 

There are a lot of methods to do this, such as tracking the conversion values with Google Tag Manager

However, let’s use a more robust method — setting up a Data Layer. 

Let’s see how! 

Inspect Your Data Layer

We have set up a plugin on our eCommerce store that allows the transfer of the data from the shop system into the order-received page and makes it available to Google Tag Manager. 

Hence, once a customer places an order, the information is stored in the Data Layer that can be accessed through Google Tag Manager. 

This space contains all the different data values including the revenue as well as the product ID of the order. 

Accessing conversion data from the Data Layer of Google Tag Manager

Adding the order ID will help us tremendously because if a user reloads the order confirmation page, then Google will track the conversions with the same order IDs and discard the replicated ones. 

However, if you notice that the order details aren’t seen in the Data Layer even after setting it up, then it means the data layer isn’t correctly configured. 

You might need to contact a technician or your web developer to install it correctly using a plugin. 

Next, we’ll create Data Layer variables.

Create New Data Layer Variables

Let’s create a new Data Layer Variable on your Google Tag Manager account. 

Data Layer variables are interlinked with a considerable amount of information. Hence, we’ll need to find the correct key for the corresponding value. 

The Data Layer example below shows information for the order of ecommerce.purchase.actionField.revenue

Verifying conversion data from the Data Layer of Google Tag Manager

So we’ll add it in this exact order in the section of Data Layer Variable Name

Configuring a Data Layer Variable for tracking conversion data in Google Tag Manager

Once done, we’ll save it and create another Data Layer Variable for order ID. In this case, we’ll use the order ecommerce.purchase.actionField.id

Configuring a Data Layer Variable for tracking conversion data in Google Tag Manager

We created variables for collecting information. As the variables are already a part of Google Tag Manager, we can directly use the information from these variables in the triggers and Tags. 

Add Variables to Tag

Let’s reopen our Tag for conversion tracking of the received orders. 

We’ll choose the Conversion Value as div – revenue, and the Order ID as div – orderId.  

Configuring conversion value and order ID for a Google Ads conversion tracking Tag in Google Tag Manager

Then, we’ll need a trigger to attach to the Tag.

Create a Trigger Using a Custom Event

We’ll add a custom Data Layer event to the Tag so it can be deployed in accordance with the need of the information. 

We have a custom event gtm4wp.orderCompletedEEC already set up. 

Event set up in Google Tag Manager to track conversion data

This event is a preferred choice. It uses smart techniques to identify when the conversion actually takes place, and it differentiates when the order-received page is simply reloaded. 

So we’ll add this event to a new trigger to attach it to the Tag. Let’s remove the previous trigger that we added to the Tag, and we’ll create a new trigger to replace it. 

The Trigger type will still be Custom Event, and the Event Name will be gtm4wp.orderCompletedEEC

We also want the trigger to fire on All Custom Events

Configuring a custom event trigger to fire on all custom events in Google Tag Manager

As different plugins produce different results, you can do an implementation to control the events you send into the Data Layer. 

Once the trigger is added to the Tag, we’ll save it. 

Let’s see how it works by placing an order on the website again. 

If the Tags and triggers are correctly installed, we’ll be able to see the correct information for the ordered products on the fired Tag. 

Examining the fired conversion tracking Tags for verifying order data from Google Tag Manager

You can also verify this information from the Google Tag Assistant plugin for browsers. 

Verifying conversion tracking data from the Google Tag Assistant Legacy plugin

So that’s how you can set up custom conversion tracking for your website through Google Tag Manager. 

Now let’s take a look at how Google Ads reports this data. 

Seeing Conversion Value in Google Ads Reports

Open Campaign settings in your Google Ads account. Go to Columns → Modify columns to see all conversions in your Campaigns report. 

Modifying the campaign columns from the Google Ads account

Under the Conversions tab, check the Conv. value option. Then, click on Apply

Configuring the conversions columns for adding conversion value to the conversions column

Thus, you’ll be able to see a column of Conv. value as well! 

Verifying a conversion column to the tracking columns of ad groups in Google Ads

This helps you analyze the data about who clicks your ad, who converts from your ad, the value of those conversions, and the amount of money you can spend on your future campaigns. 

This data will also be reflected in your conversion ads reports. 

Verifying the conversion column data of ad groups in Google Ads

However, accurate data will only be available once you publish your version. Then, the changes go live on the website and Google Ads will track your conversions. 

Summary

So that’s how you can install Google Ads conversion tracking with the help of Google Tag Manager. 

You can also configure the value of conversion in your reports to have a better idea about the ROI analysis for finding the amount you spent on campaigns versus the revenue a campaign generated for you! 

Additionally, once you’ve installed the conversions on your Google Ads account, you can also import and analyze the assisted conversions in Google Analytics

If you’re feeling stuck with your booking tracking, check out our handy guide on LatePoint booking conversion tracking in Google Ads.

Did you have difficulty setting up your own custom Data Layer? Where do you install Data Layers on your own website? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ece Zehir
Ece Zehir
1 year ago

Hi, i have problem about tracking 3d secure payments. this type of payments starts new session and i thik its impossible to track in analytics or adwords.Do you have any solution about this problem? Thank you.

Vanja
Vanja
6 months ago

Hi Julian, I have a problem with currency – for example – I have Google Ads in currency A. Website datalayer is in currency B. My currency in Ads is automatically converting to Google Ads currency A. Is there any way to have still currency B in Google Ads. I know that I will have different currencies in ads spend and conv. value, but I want to implement it like this if it’s possible. Thanks.

George
George
4 months ago

Hi,

Just wanted to clarify – This will show the value of conversions only if the conversion comes from Google Ads, right?

Sofiia Bychkovska
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  George

Yes, correct.

Mohamed Yusuf
Mohamed Yusuf
4 months ago

Hey Julian,
Thanks for this awesome article!

Couple of questions :

1. You had mentioned that you ‘set up a plugin on our eCommerce store that allows the transfer of the data from the shop system into the order-received page and makes it available to Google Tag Manager’. Could you plz let us know what plugin that is and how it’s to be configured?

2. There’s a new feature in Beta called ‘Conversions with Cart Data’. Would this eventually replace the need to have a data layer in order to track conversion value?

Ref : https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9028614?hl=en

Sofiia Bychkovska
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Mohamed Yusuf

Hi Mohamed,

The Plugin for WordPress is called GTM for WordPress https://gtm4wp.com/. Depending on what shop system you use, you might want to search for a plugin that can do the same.

No, conversions with Cart Data still need to have the tracking installed correctly. If you use GTM, then a proper dataLayer needs to be in place first for it to work.

Last edited 4 months ago by Sofiia Bychkovska
Eric
Eric
4 months ago

This is a great article!
Question for you: Under the Tag Setup section in Google Ads, I do not see the option to Use Google Tag Manager. Therefore I cannot get the conversion ID and name to plug into Google Tag Manager. Can you help?

Sofiia Bychkovska
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Hey Eric,

There was a Google Ads update, and the interface changed a bit. Here’s a short video that would navigate you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5oVy4XKpG8&t=0s

Milan
Milan
28 days ago

Thanks for this helpful article!

Do you also have a setup where I can see not only the revenues, but also which products were purchased? So not total conversions, but at product level (Conversions with Cart data?)? Or is that only possible via Google Analytics?

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