Google AdWords – Display URL For Affiliates


Since an increasing percentage of the users of the AdWords Forum are new affiliates, this article is meant to cover a common misunderstanding leading to problems with the Display URL. Basically when you are creating an ad you have to complete 2 URL fields: the Display URL field and the Destination URL field. It is the Display URL field that is shown to a Google Search user, on the search results page, while it is the Destination URL that determines where the user will be taken on clicking on your sponsored link which is another name for an advert.

After a few days of study, most new affiliates seem to be knowledgeable about the requirement that the Display URL should match the Destination URL. What does the word *match* mean in this context? It means that the domain names associated with the 2 URLs should be identical. The usual problem for affiliates is generally associated with the fact that most of them are registered with one of the major affiliate networks, such as ClickBank, Commission Junction (CJ) or ShareASale. As a rule, these networks provide their affiliates with affiliate links (or HopLink at ClickBank) that don’t match the website URL of the online merchant. In fact, these affiliate links are tracking URLs, serving statistical and reporting purposes, that redirect to the particular webpage of the online merchant.

And that’s the root of the problem. When your Destination URL is a tracking URL the known rule is simply not true. The Display URL is not supposed to match the Destination URL when it’s a tracking URL. In such cases, the Display URL has to match the URL of your Landing Page which is the webpage the user will be taken to on clicking on your advert displayed on the user’s search result page. Of course, the Landing Page is, in most cases, a page of the website of the online merchant.

* Display URL:……..http …………etc….(merchant’s domain)…..shown to user
* Destination URL:…http…………etc….(aka Tracking URL)…….redirects to product page

ShareASale is one of the popular affiliate networks and the above URLs were the details of an old experimental advert, not in use any more. HomeLivingStyle used to be an online merchant participating in the network. The Destination URL was the affiliate link provided by the network. In fact, it was a tracking URL so that the network was able to keep records of clicks the online merchant received from the affiliate link via the network. It redirected to a product page of the website of the online merchant, namely to a page selling some sorts of electric fireplaces on the HomeLivingStyle website.

The striking thing in the above URL configuration is that the Display URL does not match the Destination URL – because it shouldn’t. When a user clicked on the advert he was taken to:

* Landing Page:……http ………. etc…….(merchant’s product page)

which was a workable page of the online merchant in those days. It was what we call the Landing Page. Remember, that in fact, the Display URL is supposed to match the Landing Page URL when your affiliate link is a tracking URL. In such cases, the Destination URL is different from the Landing Page. The former only serves tracking purposes while the latter is an actual page on the merchants website.