Following up on last week’s article related to Google and AdWords updates taking place in 2017, here’s another change that, although it happened in the 4th quarter of 2016, it may have been missed by some online marketers.

Just about in the same time frame when the text ads were upgraded to “expanded” text ads and display ads were also improved into “responsive” display ads, Google also announced one more major change – AdWords has phased out the “converted click” metric that was being used for the past 15 years.  With this change, advertisers are no longer able to measure converted clicks as they did in the past. In order to measure converted clicks, AdWords has introduced a more sophisticated, and sometimes more confusing “conversions” metric moving forward.


Google justified this change in the important optimization metric by explaining that when converted clicks were introduced in 2001, it was the most rudimentary way to measure if a user had taken any meaningful action after clicking on an ad. As advertisers and Google became more mature and sophisticated with their conversion tracking, the converted clicks metric became increasingly irrelevant and its limitations more noticeable.

So, Google introduced the “conversions” metric to remedy these problems. For instance, if an advertiser was tracking multiple goals, converted clicks couldn’t track which goal a user completed, whereas conversions could. Additionally, the converted clicks metric couldn’t be used to track cross-device and cross-browser conversions or be used in more sophisticated attribution funnels.

Since last September, Google has been to automatically including cross-device conversions in the “conversions” metric. Clients will likely notice an uptick in the number of reported conversions following this change, particularly clients who have a strong mobile PPC strategy.

Also, Google officially retired the “converted clicks” metric in all accounts.  Clients who were using the “converted clicks” metric for bidding and reporting purposes were automatically migrated to the new conversion metric. These accounts may have seen a significant increase in measured conversions as a result.

During this transition, Google is encouraged clients who were using the converted click metric to manually migrate in advance, and they provided an easy tool to migrate to conversions in the tools tab. From the tool bar in AdWords, advertisers can migrate early by doing the following:

  1. Select Conversions
  2. Click on the “Converted Clicks is going away” notification (highlighted here in green)

Google will provide an estimate of the difference between how it measures converted clicks and conversions in your account. Review this to understand the impact this will have in your account.


You have the option to either approve these changes and migrate immediately or be walked through how to minimize the difference between the two conversion metrics.

Who was most affected by this change?

Any clients who were previously using converted clicks or not including cross-device conversions in their conversion metric will notice an uptick in their reported conversions at the end of September.

Also, accounts that rely on automated bidding strategies or automatic rules and scripts around CPA should expect to see some turbulence in their campaigns as Google will report more conversions and consequently a lower CPA. These lower reported CPAs may make automatic bidding strategies increase their CPC bid, and these advertisers should prepare for the CPCs to rise and to spend more money on these campaigns. Review your campaign settings to see if your campaigns use either enhanced CPC (eCPC) or a CPA based bidding strategy and adjust your targets in advance!

How to minimize the reported difference between conversions and converted clicks

Although Google reports that most advertisers already rely on conversions rather than converted clicks, some people out there have strong feels about losing their converted clicks metric.

For most SEMs upset about losing their beloved converted clicks, their chief concern is that they may begin over-counting their conversions after the migration occurs.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimize the counted difference between these conversion metrics and still satisfy your needs for accurate reporting.

1. Remove duplicate goals– Review the conversion goals that are currently tracking from the “Conversions” button under the tools bar. Be particularly wary if you’re tracking the same goal in Google Analytics and also using an AdWords conversion pixel. If a client was tracking multiple of the same goal using different pixels or importing them from GA, the conversion metric could potentially count as multiple conversions.

2. Set conversion goals to track “One” count rather than “Every”– This setting will prevent users completing the same action multiple times from being counted multiple times. The setting can be adjusted by editing an existing conversion goal.


3. Track cross-device conversions– Although cross-device conversions will automatically be included in the conversions metric as of Sept. 6, you will still be able to view your cross-device conversions for reporting purposes. The cross-device conversions metric can be added as a metric within the AdWords UI.


Your reported conversion metric minus these cross-device conversions will give you your old “conversion” metric. This can even be done by creating a custom column variable in the UI.


Although not all advertisers welcomed these changes, Google is not offering an option to avoid it so it’s important to review how you measure your AdWords conversions today and see how this update has affected your account.  As always, if you need any assistance managing or evaluating your SEM campaigns, our MGR SEO Team is willing to take a look at it to evaluate it for you and point you in the right direction.

Thank you for reading.  Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)

*Sources: (Mark Irvine)