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How To Fix googleads-doubleclick.net Refferal Traffic
So you've been going through your Google Analytics, and you've noticed a spike from as strange new referral traffic source named googleads.g.doubleclick.net. You're not running any programmatic or display campaigns, you're not even running a Google Ads text Campaign, so what is this traffic source?
Could it be bots? Could it be a mistake? Could it be someone injecting data into your Google Analytics account as spam such as ghost traffic?
We did some deep diving into various Google Analytics accounts of both our site and clients sites and found that its none of these. The googleads.g.doubleclick.net comes from two pretty distinct sources one could be external Google Ad Campaigns, and the other could be AdSense Matched content.
Referrals from googleads.g.doubleclick.net are clicks on your ads showing on the Google Display Network. These are ads showing on publisher sites in the AdSense program—for which the destination URLs have not used UTM tracking tags.
What causes googleads.g.doubleclick.net traffic?
There are two distinct situations where a googleads.g.doubleclick.net referral traffic source will occur, namely:
If you have no Adsense ads or Google Ad Manager spots on your site then this is a simple answer, the traffic belongs to an external Google Ads account sending traffic to your site. Yes, some other person is running Google and on your behalf but is not using UTM tracking to pass reliable campaign information on to your Google Analytics account.
This sort of traffic is popular if you have an affiliate program or offer services like hosting events and clients would like to use your website as their landing page. These clients then create Google Ad Campings and direct their ad traffic to your website.
If you would like to double-check this simply open up the referral traffic source and check the referral path. If the path is a "/: also referred to as the homepage, then it is an external Google Ads campaign. Remember this could be text ads in Google Search or GDN network text ads.
If you're running Google Adsense standard or via Google Ad Manager (formally DFP) and you don't have any Google Ad campaigns running, then I think it's safe to assume this comes from native matched content.
What Google Adsense does is it provides a carousel of content suggestions with ads placed in between to give them a more native feel. The content suggestions are other URLs on your site and when a user clicks on it, it's directed to that URL via Googles ad server adding a referral traffic source to it.
If you're running native ads and "matched content" ads you'll probably have this type of traffic in your Google analytics.
If you would like to double-check this simply open up the referral traffic source and check the referral path, if the path is a "pageads/ad/" then this is certainly from Adsense.
How to deal with googleads.g.doubleclick.net traffic
Google Ads traffic
If you have contact with the user running the ads you can provide them with a unique affiliate ID tracked UTM link they can add to the end of their ads so you can track the traffic via the specific source. If don't have contact with the user running the ads you can set up a custom traffic source and categorise this traffic as affiliate traffic.
Google Adsense traffic
Since this traffic comes from users already using your site and browsing through various pages it makes no sense to track this sort of traffic as a separate source unless you want to measure the effectiveness of matched content.
If you're not at all interested int he performance and want a cleaner data set. I would recommend using a referral exclusion and have your Google Analytics completely ignore the traffic source.
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If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles.
If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on referral traffic.
- 4 Types Of Links That Drive Real Referral Traffic
- What Does Your Direct Traffic Actually Consist of
- Affiliate Vs Referral Marketing Which Is Right for You
- Reasons Why You Would Track Your Initial Traffic Source