Announcing an automatic server-side connection to Google Ads

This week Littledata launched the first fully-automatic, server-side connection from Shopify to Google Ads, including Enhanced Conversions powered by first-party customer data.

Brands spending on any of Google’s advertising channels – including Search Ads, Display Ads, and YouTube – should switch to Littledata’s connection to get a more reliable signal into Google Ads for optimization and better attribution of sales to Google Ads spend.

The key advantages of server-side conversion tracking for Google Ads are:

1.    Tracking click-through and view-through conversions

2.    Marketing attribution via the vast Google device graph, even when first-party cookies are blocked

3.    Ensure revenue in Google Ads matches revenue in Shopify

4.    Include attribution of offline or recurring orders to Ads

5.    Robust and maintenance-free tracking – regardless of any Shopify theme changes

Our server-side connection does away with the need for gtag, Google Tag Manager, or Floodlight tags to track conversions from the Google Marketing Platform, and replaces them with one primary action which will always match what happened on Shopify.

Didn’t Littledata support conversions into Google Ads before?

Yes, we’ve supported imported conversions from Google Analytics into Google Ads for many years.

However, imported conversions have a few limitations: they can’t track view-through conversions from display ads, and they can’t include customer data for Enhanced Conversions.

In fact, Google recently rebranded these secondary Google Analytics purchase events as Key Events – as distinct from the primary Conversion Actions it wants advertisers to feed directly to Ads, to better power ad optimization.

Google launched Enhanced Conversions back in 2021 as a response to Apple Intelligent Tracking Prevention reducing the effectiveness of cookie-based tracking, the implementation was originally client-side.

The launch of Enhanced Conversions for Leads in 2022 allowed advertisers to batch import offline conversions, but it wasn’t until 2024 that Google allowed online conversions to be streamed into Google Ads server-to-server. This API is what enabled Littledata to build the connection.

What are Enhanced Conversions?

Google Ads’ API allows Littledata to enrich the purchase signal with hashed customer data which Google can match to a customer record at its end. When I complete the checkout on Shopify I share an email, phone number, and physical address with your store. If this matches my Gmail account – and I’m logged into Gmail on my laptop that I used to purchase – then Google knows I’m the same person that both clicked on an Ad and purchased the product.

This profile-based attribution is completely independent of what happens in the browser – and so future-proofs your advertising against further degradation of cookie tracking, e.g. from further iOS releases.

Enhanced Conversions also allow cross-device tracking. For example, if I view a video ad on the YouTube app on my iPhone and that prompts me to buy on my desktop computer, Google could link my YouTube account to the purchase and infer attribution – something that could never happen via a cookie.

Enhanced Conversions can take a few weeks to have an impact in Ad accounts, and Google shows when it’s ready.

How does a better conversion signal improve Ad performance?

Google uses AI, especially for Performance Max (PMax) campaigns, to allocate more budget to the ads and media channels that are performing best. For an ecommerce site, the best signal for performance is purchasing.

As Google explains in its Optimization Tips, the ‘audience signal’ is a major factor in high-performance marketing. Sending in a strong audience signal for users that purchased – and also Add to Cart events for retargeting – allows Google to more efficiently allocate ad budget.

For example, that pre-roll YouTube ad I mentioned before might appear to have limited impact on purchasing, because there’s no cookie-based way for Google Ads to link the ad to the purchase. After adding Enhanced Conversions, more of those logged-in video views can be linked to buying users, and Google allocates more of the ad budget toward video – and deprioritizes search ads retargeting, which is often cannibalizing top-of-funnel channels.

How to get started with server-side tracking for Google Ads

Connecting Shopify to Google Ads with Littledata takes less than 10 minutes.

Further reading:

Connecting Google Ads server-side

Google Ads installation guide

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