7 Things On My Google AdWords Wishlist For Santa

Dear Santa,

Dear #SantaI hope you and Mrs. Claus are doing well.

I have been an especially good advertiser this year, and so I hope you don’t mind that my asking for a few special gifts this year that will be greatly appreciated by all of us Google AdWords advertisers.

Yrs Trly,


(P.S.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asked all my reader friends to add their own special requests  in the comments section below.)

1. Two Month Vacation for AdWords Product Managers

The top item on my wishlist, Santa, is that you please send all the AdWords product marketing managers somewhere warm, sunny and without Internet access for a few months’ holiday so they can’t invent or schedule any new feature launches for a while.

The product managers certainly have earned their holiday, Santa, but honestly, this really is a present for the AdWords advertisers and AdWords engineering teams. We need some catch up time.

Slowing down the marketing team for a little while will give us advertisers the time we need to properly evaluate the plethora of recently announced ad formats, targeting, scheduling and bidding options, and then to re-engineer our own campaign management processes so we can fully take advantage of them.

Keeping the product managers offline for just a few months will also help the AdWords development engineering teams do some catching up, too. They’ll have extra time to do more front-end engineering on new features before launch, more time to put finishing touches on soon-to-be-released features, and more time to fix-up and document previously-introduced features and AdWords extensions, some of which are on my wishlist, below.

2.  A New AdWords Ad Scheduler Based On The Searcher’s Time Zone

The next thing on my list, Santa, is a new AdWords Ad Scheduler. The current Ad Scheduler is so 20th  century.

For example, if we want show ads only from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm all across the United States, we have to create 3-5 separate campaigns to make that happen because the current scheduler bases its ad delivery on the time-zone setting of our AdWords account, not the local user.

I would like a new AdWords Ad Scheduler this year that is smart enough to know what time it is in each time zone in which we want to show our ads without our having to spell it out!

(P.S. Santa, I am not the only one who wants this.  One of my friends, Barry Schwartz did a survey of AdWords users back in 2009 and almost everyone he asked (88%) said they would like to have a better AdWords Ad Scheduler, too.)

3.  Geo-Targeting At Ad Group Level

I’d really like a new geo-targeting system that lets us specify the geo-targeting at either the campaign or ad group level.

Until this fall, when Google expanded AdWords maximum limits to 500 campaigns per account and 20,000 ad groups per campaign, it was virtually impossible to efficiently run large complex localized national and multinational campaigns.  However, with a  new ad group level targeting capability, we would still have much better flexibility in the design of comprehensive, sophisticated ad campaigns.

While you are at it, Santa, it would also be very nice to  have ad scheduling, demographic targeting, and ad rotation set at the ad group level, too. If we had all these features at the ad group level, we could do so many more interesting experiments with Google’s ACE, too.

4.  A New Version Of Sitelinks & Other Ad Extensions

Santa, I was really excited a few years ago when Google rolled out a boatload of new ad extensions that showed promise for improving click-through rates. In particular, we were excited by the possibilities of the Sitelinks extensions.

However, somewhere between the concept and implementation of Sitelinks, many seemingly obvious features got left on the drawing board.

For example, Sitelinks were implemented at the campaign level, even though ads they apply to are controlled at the ad group level. There is no way to track individual Sitelink URLs, A/B test the links, control rotation of the site links, and so on. Melissa Mackey did a nice job of describing  all the pain points of Sitelinks deficiencies in an article a few months ago.

For Christmas this year, Santa, I’d really like a new version of  Sitelinks that is fully integrated with all the other great Google impression, click, and conversion tracking mechanisms and which can be managed at the ad group level and reported at the ad group, ad and keyword levels, as we’ve come to expect with  all Google AdWords elements.

5.  A New Dimension & Google Analytics Tracking Variable: utm_adgrp

Santa, I have had this item on my wish list for a few years – ever since Google bought the Urchin software and it became Google Analytics.

For the life of me, I can’t  figure out why a variable for tracking ad groups has never been added to Google Analytics.

Google Analytic needs an adgroup variable

Why doesn't Google Analytics have an ad group dimension?


Google AdWords has always had a Campaign/Adgroup/Keyword hierarchy, and it seems odd not to carry that through to Analytics tracking variables and reports.

Santa, can you please bring us a new version of Analytics that includes a standard campaign variable, utm_adgrp,  that allows ad group tracking and reporting within Analytics?

6. AdWords Editor That Is 100% Representative Of The Online GUI

Santa, we really like AdWords Editor because it saves us so much time in campaign management. However, the versions available  always seem to be 2-3 steps behind the online interface.

Can you please bring us a new version that is completely up-to-date?

7.  Historical Quality Score Reports

I’d sure like a new set of reports within AdWords that tell us how our quality scores change over time as we optimize our accounts. It  doesn’t have to be a fancy report, just something that tells us when we are getting hotter and when we are getting colder with our efforts to optimize our campaigns.

While you are at it Santa, and I know this is probably too much to ask, but can you please give us some help with some of our QS4 keywords?

We have tons of them that have great click through rates, and even better conversion rates, but according to AdWords relevancy algorithms,  they only rank a quality score of 4 and so we are sure they are costing us more than they should because of the way quality score influences ad rank and effective bid prices?

Well, I have a lot more items on my AdWords wishlist,  Santa, but if you can just work on these, (and any other wishes that other readers want to add in the comments below), I would be very grateful.

Merry Christmas.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is President and founder of Find Me Faster a search engine marketing firm based in Nashua, NH. He is a member of SEMNE (Search Engine Marketing New England), and SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization as a member and contributing courseware developer for the SEMPO Institute. Matt writes occasionally on internet, search engines and technology topics for IMedia, The NH Business Review and other publications.

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  • AndrewBooth

    I second Historical QS Reports!!!

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Thanks, Andrew!

    Just saw another good wish tweeted out from Dennis Petretti (@Denetti). He’d like to see savable, customized date ranges,

  • http://www.brettburky.com brettburky

    The adwords editor request I want that for sure. I like working in there better but seem to be missing a lot because of it.

  • http://escapestudio.net mvarga

    Hi Matt,

    an excellent wish list. If I just could ad a wish or two of my one:

    1. Automated rule – Change campaign budget according to impression share
    2. Impression share for Adgroup and keyword level
    3. Relative CTR at least for Adgroup level
    4. Relative CTR for search campaigns (The Analyze competition report is not accurate)
    5. Analyze competition for a given data range – to see if I optimize my campaign in a good direction

    And just one strange thing I’ve noticed – Although Google claims that phrase (“keyword match”) should behave the same as phrase-broad modified match (“+keyword +match”) I’ve noticed in 8 of 10 experiments I had run a significant increase of CTR and in all 10 a decrease of CPC. Has anyone tested this also, and can we compare our results?

    Hopefully Santa Google will hear our wishes

    Have good, googd New Year everyone

  • http://www.adrianbold.com Adrian Bold

    All good ideas but #7 in particular for me. Those pesky QS4s!

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Thank you Adrian, Brett, & Miroslav! If we all refrain from being naughty and violating TOS for at least until Christmas, I am hoping for the best from Santa.

    Great list, Miroslav. Not sure if I understand your test. Can you send me an email that describes the test a little bit more? You are testing a phrase match that includes + symbol?

  • http://www.chicagostyleseo.com CSS

    #7 would certainly save our clients some money…as it is now we have to take time (which we bill for) to go in and archive this data in an outside database.

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    I can see why they’d want to do this, Chicago Style, but jeez, is that a lot of work to gather and store. I’d be curious to know if you take readings daily, weekly, or monthly?

  • http://www.kevinlee.net/ Kevin Lee

    Right on Matt. And if Google doesn’t believe in Santa, we’ll gladly accept these features as Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Festivus gifts. I have a whole list of features that would be great specifically for the Display Network and AdX, but those are too long to list here.

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Excellent, Kevin – sounds like you’ve got a few posts worth of great ideas. Drop the link back here if and when you decide to start scribbling them up!

  • http://escapestudio.net mvarga

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve send the list of results run by an experiment (50%-50%) of “phrase” vs “+phrase” keywords.
    There were some significant increase of CTR (in 8 of 10 experiments) and a significant decrease of CPC.

    Has anyone test this also? I would like to compare results with others

  • http://www.artohasu.fi Arto Hasu

    Great list, Matt. I especially agree on the 3rd and 7th points on the list.

  • http://tillison.co.uk Mark Tillison

    And I’d also like please, Mr Claus:

    8. An attribution funnel for all Display ad impressions that contributed to a conversion, not just the last impression. A View Through Conversion funnel, if you will.

    9. Split-test site links. Since we can add 10 site links, we need to be able to measure which produce the highest CTR and conversion rates.

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Miroslav, thank you for your email. I will set up your experiment and see if I can reproduce your results.

    Thank you for weighing in, Arto. #7 is like the iPad2 – its’ showing up on everyone’s list.

    #3 also speaks to Mark Tilson’s point about split testing site links. If they were implemented at the ad group level, and they were ‘fully-engineered’ by which I mean, all other AdWords reporting (ctr, cvr) and controls (pause, order the list, split test) were implemented, I think Sitelinks would have been nominated for feature of the year. As it stands now, Sitelinks still feels sort of like a beta version, or rev 1. Lets hope Santa has rev2 in his bag for you this year.

    Wow. A view-through funnel idea for Display. Now that would be cool! It would have to be one wicked big funnel and may not fit into Santa’s bag! The size of the funnel mouth would have to be as wide as the internet itself – or at least that part of the internet you are targeting – even just one click back from the conversion.

    That poses an even bigger philosophical question. Can Santa build an attribution funnel so big it can hold all possible pre-conversion Display attribution points and yet be small enough to fit down a chimney? Deep thoughts…

  • http://onlinemarketingmavens.com Lisa Raehsler

    Matt, great list! I think we overall need some rockin’ new features, but yes, per your #4 Sitelinks could use more attention to targeting as well as reporting. Seems like a lot of missed opportunity with them!

  • http://www.tenscores.com chris.thunder

    Hi Matt,

    #7 was on my list for a while, until my mom told me that Santa didn’t really exist and I decided to offer the gift to myself :)

    That’s how Tenscores.com was born.

    Not many people know about it but there has been some articles about it here on SEL. It’s currently in beta, if you’d like to try it out (or anyone else), drop me a line: chris(at)tenscores(.)com

    For the other items, maybe we should write a petition and send it to Santa cause he often seems to be too busy with other kids gifts.


  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Chris. Will definitely give your tool a try – thanks for mentioning it. Sounds like a reasonably priced time-saver for keeping on top of QS.

    Thank you for the nice feedback, Lisa. I agree. Sitelinks needs ‘an intervention’ for sure. But I guess I’d rather see some good back-filling and sprucing up of the existing features before the next shiny new toy arrives!

  • http://www.edeninteractive.com E.I.

    3. Geo-Targeting At Ad Group Level
    7. Historical Quality Score Reports

    You might as well include alerts for the Quality Score – so campaign managers can take pro-active steps if there are changes for keywords.


  • http://stumcmullin.com stumcmullin

    Good List – I esp would like to see Geo Targeting at the Ad Group Level and also more historical data available on quality score(s). It would be nice to see where you came from and how you’re doing better!

    Thanks again,
    Stuart McMullin

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Thank you for adding to the list, Stuart and Searchengineman.

    With your two votes and some tweets I saw earlier today, it sure looks like Santa needs to pack a lot of historical QS reports into his sack this year – that could be the hottest gift this season.

    BTW, for all the rest of you readers…Definitely check out Searchengineman’s blog and really good tools for reporting and analysis. Just search on ‘searchengineman’ to find him.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisasanner Lisa Sanner

    Great list Matt! I especially love #1, #2, #4 and #7. Santa’s elves should be busy all year with those.
    RE: #7 Sitelinks – I’d also like to see improvements on existing sitelinks extension before add more bells and whistles, both reporting and management. This feature is being so widely used and has been successful that it’s time to do a makeover on this extension. A pause functionality for individual SL sure would be nice too, rather than adding, deleting, re-adding.

    I also have 2 more wishes which I do not believe have been stated above:
    - Compare date ranges capability in GUI or AWE, with % changes columns.
    - Customize metrics, being able to create a formula for profitability metrics, such as RPC, ROAS, PPI and having those as sortable columns in the UI, rather than downloading to Excel.

    We should get these because I’m sure we are on the “nice” list and not the naughty one. :) Cheers and Happy Holidays! Lisa Sanner

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Lisa – I like your ideas!

  • http://informlocal.com/ Mike

    Nice list, I would add to it by expanding demographic bidding to more than just content network.

    I think quality scores are slow to change due to landing page cache, and non indexed pages

  • http://www.werty.net/ george

    I have been asking for this for years. The ability to target operating systems. I have one client that sells Mac software and I have to compete with windows software vendors if I want to go after broad terms.

    Site links and geo targeting on adgroups would be huge.

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner

    Thanks for the wishlist additions, George.

    You make an excellent point. I’ll add to your wish the ability to deselect specific browsers. We have some sites that are just not going to present well on IE5 and other legacy browsers and we’d just as soon as exclude them from paid search ads.

  • http://www.findmefaster.com Matt Van Wagner


    Demographic bidding on search network – good one. Santa already knows who’s naughty or nice, so I suppose he must know our age, gender, and other demographic info…

    Google can make some assumptions about searcher demographics based on either signed in or signed out browsing history. I am sure they could do much much more, but I believe they are more inclined to let Facebook take the early slings and arrows to discover the societal tolerance and emerging legal boundaries for online privacy.

  • http://www.pagezero.com Andrew Goodman

    Cool ideas, Matt. Historical QS… heresy! ;)


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