PayPal Seriously Screws With AdWords Conversions

If you use PayPal to process credit card transactions and you are using Google AdWords to push sales on these products, a recent change PayPal has made will be seriously screwing with your ability to record conversions in Google AdWords.

I’ve just spent over one hour on this and was very discouraged about the change. Here is my letter to PayPal that I am posting on my blog as well detailing the problem.


Sent to PayPal using their online Feedback interface

PayPal has recently made a change in the order confirmation page. It used to be at the end of the transaction the buyer (if the PayPal account owner had set this up) was automatically sent to the desired thank you page on the selling website.

Now PayPal has globally, for all customers, defeated this. Instead of being automatically returned to the selling site, a new screen is shown within PayPal with an order confirmation number and an orange button that says return to merchant name’s site.

In my case (I manage many AdWords clients) this means that if and only if the client clicks the orange return to website button will a Google AdWords conversion will be recorded.

If the buyer chooses to just close that tab and surf elsewhere, no Google AdWords conversion is recorded.  This is a very big problem for any client who is using PayPal and then marketing these services on Google AdWords.

As a Professional Account Google AdWords Account Manager I will not be recommending that clients use PayPal if they are promoting their items on AdWords. The recording of conversions is one of our biggest tools to understand if spending on AdWords is an investment or an expense.

I will hope that PayPal will reverse this action. You can contact me, Nancy McCord at 301-705-7303 or

Please pass my comments up the chain as PayPal may not have considered this when they have made this very important change.


2 thoughts on “PayPal Seriously Screws With AdWords Conversions”

  1. I have done additional research on this topic and want to share my findings with you to help you know if using PayPal or using another payment service would be better for your needs.

    I have confirmed all this information by doing actual transactions with two different protocols and credit cards on a client PayPal shopping site.

    First, if the client has a PayPal account and chooses to sign in to PayPal, at the end of the transaction PayPal will automatically with no action on their part redirect them to the site’s thank you page to record a conversion.

    If the client does not have a PayPal account or chooses not to use their PayPal account and rather a different credit card, PayPal will remind them they have an account and encourage them to use it. If the customer persists, then the confirmation screen has a big orange button that says return to website and to return to the website (and record a conversion) the client must click the orange return to website button. Some may, some may not.

    These are the options for clients who really need to record conversions.

    1. In your PayPal settings you can force all users to use either they PayPal account or set one up.

    2. Move to a different credit card processing program – I use Sage Payment and offer PayPal as well. There are pros and cons with each. PayPal makes it very easy, but as we have seen, there are issues with accurate conversion tracking.

    3. You may want to test two weeks forcing people to set up a PayPal account and see if you receive complaints or not. This would be my recommended course of action. The reality is that most people who do buy online at some point have set up a PayPal account, but for some reason may not want to use it. This is done by changing one setting in the PayPal account and easy to undo. If you choose not to do this, you and your AdWords account manager simply need to be aware that some sales simply will not be recorded as AdWords conversions and then AdWords conversions and overall sales should be evaluated together to review for increases and success of the AdWords program.

    Wish these work arounds were not needed, as the redirect issue has not been an issue before, but for some reason PayPal has globally decided to make these changes that impact conversion tracking.

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