5 Reports AdWords Doesn’t Provide: A PPC Superuser Wish List

Ulla Saleh Mar 21, 2017

Paid Search professionals spend a lot of time in AdWords - probably even more time than they would like. When we interviewed agency PPC experts for our eBook, Expert PPC Tips: Agencies Share Their Best Practices, we asked questions around AdWords functionality and reporting. They had some interesting ideas about what types of reports they wish they could see.

Here are some of the most-asked for reports by the experts:

1. Competitor information

Although Adwords provides a lot of information on the brand’s
campaigns, competitor data is quite limited. From the Auction Insights Report inside AdWords, you’ll be able to see the list of current domains that are bidding on the same keywords you are, but you you can’t find out what other keywords your competitors are bidding on.

As Doug Rowles, Associate Director at MediaCom said, “Granular search-specific competitor data is pretty limited in AdWords, especially considering the wealth of data that Google is sitting on.” Some companies augment the information available through AdWords through other third-party tools, like Spyfu and SEM Rush.

Others build their own in-house tools. Good Apple Digital, for example, built a tool called Auctionalysis, that shows competitor data on an hourly basis. Ian Orekondy, Director of Search Engine Marketing and Kelsie McDowell, Search Manager at Good Apple Digital explained the tool helps them “find the right times, throughout the day, when our competitors are not bidding aggressively. Instead of just getting that one data point per day we’re getting massive amounts of data, every five minutes.”

2. Trademark bidding reporting

In addition to knowing what keywords competitors are bidding on, many of the agencies we spoke with also said they’d love to be able to have greater insight into trademark bidders’ activities like geo-targeting and dayparting—tactics that advertisers use when bidding on a brand’s trademark. 

With AdWords current functionality, there are certain metrics that can suggest you are the victim of trademark abuse, such as low Click-through Rates (CTR) on branded keywords, high Cost-per-Click (CPC) on branded keywords and sudden drops in impression share. The AdWords’ Auction Insights Report can also be a valuable source of information to help you assess the amount of trademark bidding you’re facing. The report compares you against other advertisers that you’ve been competing with in ad auctions, across several metrics:

  • Impression Share
  • Average Position
  • Overlap Rate
  • Position Above Rate
  • Top of Page Rate
  • Outranking Share

While looking at sudden changes in these metrics can hint at a bigger problem, it can be very difficult and in most cases impossible to confirm trademark bidding through AdWords. To do that you need to conduct testing on the search engines. Read our white paper Tracking Down Trademark Bidders: Places to Look for specific suggestions on how to run manual tests.

While we recommend trying some or even all of the manual tests detailed in the white paper, an automated solution is the only comprehensive option. A tool like BrandVerity’s Paid Search Monitoring can provide broad visibility while minimizing time spent on manual investigation.

3. Trend information for shopping

Several of the experts we spoke to mentioned that the reporting and data available through adwords for shopping is limited. Monika Pawelski, who is the Digital Media Director at Chacka Marketing said: “Right now, shopping doesn’t provide much insight into the competitive landscape or data into what is going on behind the scenes without utilizing PLA monitoring tools, like BrandVerity. Being able to see some more trends would help decide what changes to make within the feed.”

4. Affiliate abuse reporting

Many marketing agreements with partnered advertisers require one or more of the following: bidding restrictions on certain keywords, restrictions on max Cost-Per-Click bid for approved keywords, restrictions on outranking, or a specified target position range the partner needs to achieve. Whoever enforces the agreement does not have visibility into specific search terms since Google doesn’t show partner-specific reports. Moreover, if an affiliate is placing an ad that impersonates the merchant, which is also known as ad-hijacking, Google AdWords cannot detect or confirm this nefarious activity. PPC experts said they would love to be alerted to partner non-compliance or affiliate abuse from within AdWords.

5. Segmentation

Several of the PPC experts we spoke to commented that the segmentation in AdWords is limited. Jonathan Dunkley, Business Director, Paid Performance at Ecselis said, “There are so many factors that go into making a bidding decision: audience, remarketing, copy, and time of day. You can look at each one at the campaign level but you can’t see them all together. It would be great if we were able to look at a combination of different segments at the same time.”

The new AdWords UI, which is supposed to roll out by the end of 2017, should address some of these complaints. Paul Feng, AdWords product management director, told Search Engine Land in an interview: “The reason we’re rebuilding AdWords is because the world has changed so much in the past two years. AdWords is now over 15 years old and launched when Google was just figuring out what search advertising was. We rebuilt it several years ago for a desktop world — smartphones were only [a] year old. Now we are in probably the biggest shift since AdWords was introduced (and I’d argue perhaps ever) with mobile.”

Paid search has evolved and grown so much since its inception. And with it, the needs of paid search marketers have changed. PPC will only continue to become more data driven and complex over time. While some functionality and reporting should be part of the AdWords experience, paid search managers have other tools available, like BrandVerity’s paid search monitoring, to them to help them monitor and stop trademark bidding and affiliate abuse.








Topics: paid search

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