How to Configure AdWords Tracking in Google Tag Manager

At the core of any Google AdWords account strategy lies a foundation of solid conversion tracking to determine how well ads are generating revenue beyond the click. However, getting conversion tags in place involves adding Javascript code to the site, requiring backend website access or a developer who can edit the site. Unfortunately, in many organizations, waiting on a developer to add the proper codes to a site can take days or sometimes weeks.

Thankfully, Google Tag Manager (GTM) offers a simplified solution that allows anyone to set up tracking tags without needing to access a website’s backend or understand code. Once a single GTM container code has been placed across a site, anyone can add tracking codes for AdWords (and many other platforms) through the interface.

In this article, we’ll cover setting up AdWords remarketing and conversion codes.

AdWords Remarketing Tracking

1.) From the Overview screen of your GTM container, select “New” to create a tag.

2.) Give your tag a descriptive name and click within the Tag Configuration section to choose a tag type. From here, select “AdWords Remarketing.”

3.) Now, find your remarketing tag within your AdWords account (Shared Library > Audiences > Tag Details). Here, you can find your Tracking ID to copy and paste into GTM’s Conversion ID field.

4.) Next, click within the Triggering section to choose a trigger, which indicates where your tag will fire. In most cases, the AdWords remarketing tag should fire across an entire site, so we’ll select All Pages. Now, save the tag.

5.) Finally, be aware any edits you make in GTM won’t be deployed live until you click the Submit button in the upper right. If you’re creating multiple tags or making several changes, you can apply these changes together by waiting to click Submit until done with your configuration work. You’ll also need publishing access to GTM or else you won’t be able to finalize your changes.

Next, we’ll cover setting up an AdWords conversion tag.

AdWords Conversion Tracking

Create a new tag using steps one and two above and select AdWords Conversion Tracking as the tag type.

1.) Now, you’ll need to copy two items from the conversion tag code:

  • The string after var google_conversion_id = goes into the “Conversion ID” box
  • The string after var google_conversion_label = goes into the “Conversion Label” box

2.) Next, click within the Triggering section to select your trigger for where the conversion tag should appear. From here, click the plus symbol in the upper right to create a new trigger.

3.) Now, use the fields to define your trigger. In this example, we’re targeting page views that contain “thank-you” to track form submissions that land people on a Thank You page. Of course, the precise setup will vary from site to site and the type of conversion you’ll want to track. For more on configuring form tracking (including instances in which a form does not take people to a unique Thank You page), see this article.

4.) Finally, save your tag, and don’t forget to publish it live with the Submit button! If you’d like to check your configuration before making it live, you can use the Preview option to see if tags are indeed firing properly.

Tag, You’re It!

Now, it’s your turn to start adding tags through Google Tag Manager, if you haven’t yet done so. You’ll find this solution simple and quick for bypassing development processes and needing to access website code. GTM allows you to get AdWords tracking in place efficiently, so you can get campaigns off the ground more effectively.

Do you use Google Tag Manager or have questions about using GTM? We’d love to hear your tips or questions in the comments!

Comments (11)

  1. Hi, Great Post!

    I have a problem with the adwords conversion.

    Adwords register a conversion whenever a visitor fire the trigger regardless of where the visitor comes from: he can come from a google ad or a direct link, adwords will still register a conversion. Any advice?



  2. Hi Thomas,

    The AdWords conversion pixel should only track conversions that are connected directly to AdWords. Are you seeing more conversions than should be reflected in the interface? Double-check that the trigger is firing only for the thank-you page of the form (or whatever event/page you’re tracking as a conversion); for instance, if it’s firing on the landing page itself instead of the thank you page, then conversions will be counted for every visit instead of every form fill.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your answer, i appreciate.

    I have checked that the trigger is fired only when the user visit the thank you page (contact page in fact in my case).

    I can see that when i go to the trigger page at a given moment, adwords register a conversion a the very same moment.
    This happen even if i visit the trigger page while coming from homepage from direct link and not coming from the adwords ad in google search engine.

    Therefore, any visitor that contact me is registered as conversion and not only thoose coming from a adwords ad.

  4. How can I add user id so adwords remarketing so it can combine data from different devices.

  5. Julien, did you find a solution to this? I’m experiencing the same problem.


  6. Wait a second, I thought the whole point of GTM was that you only needed to include that in the page, without needing to add the conversion tag?

    So on the thank-you page, surely only the GTM tag is needed, and then in GTM set up the conversion tag?

    Google needs to do some work on the documentation and describe these applications better. The impression they give is that ONLY the GTM tag is needed, and everything can be done in GTM.

  7. The tag will fire for every visit, the same as if you had placed the code directly onto the thank you page.

    When it fires, it will look to see if the visitor came from a Google ad, and only report a conversion if they did.

    So sounds like you configured it correctly.

  8. Hello. I have two websites with different domains (languages), .dk and .se. Both share the same content (I know this is important). Right now, I have Google Ads tags for each one, under the same Google Ads account. Can I combine their tags in one GTM container? Not a cross-tracking, as I am using different properties in G.A. (I did something similar with G.A. tag using a lookup table). The reason is that the CMS platform takes only one container ID. Thank you.

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