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Google’s New Click Tracking ID for Apple’s iOS 14.5

Apple recently updated its iOS interface (14.5) to include a change to its App Tracking Transparency policy. This change impacts how Google reports and measures conversion information in Analytics. This means businesses like Call Tracking Metrics will no longer be able to send the Google Click Identifier (known as GCLID) for traffic coming from some Google apps when used on iOS 14.5 devices.

To accommodate for this change in Apple data sharing, if a click is coming from an iOS device and the user has opted out of tracking, Google now uses two new parameters: GBRAID and WBRAID. These will be added to the landing page URL for traffic from Google apps on iOS 14.5 devices, in place of the previous GCLID parameter, and may be increasingly seen in Analytics reports.

Instead of a unique GCLID being assigned to a click, the new parameters will be created and assigned to a group of users using aggregate techniques, meaning multiple users will have the same ID assigned.

The new GBRAID parameter uses techniques that ensure it cannot be tied back to any one individual user and is compliant with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy.

GBRAID – App measurement (deep linked campaigns). Search & Shopping campaigns.
WBRAID – Web measurement. YouTube, Display, and Discovery campaigns

A useful table that displays the difference between these two parameters can be viewed here.

If a Google Ads click is coming from a non-iOS device, it will still be possible to see GCLIDs and optimise them as normal. GCLID will continue to serve as the event identifier used in surfaces that are not impacted by ATT policy for web measurement, such as events in browsers and non-iOS surfaces. This new parameter will only be used when GCLID is not available on impacted iOS surfaces.

Advertisers should prepare by ensuring they have implemented One Google Tag (OGT) (gTag.js and/or Google Tag Manager). Also that the destination websites in their advertising campaigns can receive an additional passed URL parameter and that any web attribution systems they may have can support this parameter, when needed.

Advertisers may see a drop in reported conversions if they do not configure their servers to receive this parameter as they may break web attribution systems.

To ensure accurate tracking is continued within an Ads account advertisers should consider implementing UTM (Urchin Tracking Module code) parameters if they are not currently being used. This will allow for additional attribution to be displayed in Google reports and sent into Google Analytics. Any Google Ads custom tracking source should be updated to include |wbraid=.+|braid=.+ to ensure correct attribution.

This Google response to the Apple changes show how the digital industry at large continues to grapple with how to address data usage and privacy concerns for consumers, while still gathering valuable marketing insights for businesses, in this case for ads on iOS 14.5 traffic coming from a handful of Google apps.

If you want to know more about how these changes could affect your business, please get in touch.