Google AdWords has seen a flurry of releases recently. Some have been good (Display Campaign Optimizer) and others bad (rotate changes) for advertisers. Many of these features are items Google wants to see as they help increase their bottom line or make it very easy to advertise.
However, these new features are not necessarily what advertisers really need to pull additional revenue from their campaigns.
In today’s column, I’m going to talk about my wish list and why Google should be implementing these features instead of adding yet another ad extension.
Cross Campaign ACE
AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) was a blessing when it launched. Suddenly, you had the ability to test ads, match types, ad groups, and much more while controlling your overall risk.
The beauty of ACE is the simplicity of testing. However, there are two main problems with ACE:
- Some advertisers see their overall impressions drop significantly when using ACE (uncommon, but really bad bug)
- You can’t test campaign settings
Some campaign features such as CPA bidding are very useful when they work; but they do not always work. An experiments feature that allows you to test campaign level settings or just one campaign against another one will let you get to a level of testing that will increase your overall efficiency.
True Ad Rotate
Google recently announced that the rotate setting would be changed. This lead to a lot of controversy from the community, so I went and chatted with some people in-the-know about this; and the most common theme was, “rotate has always been broken, so why does this change really matter?”.
Rotate has always been broken because of quality score and other reasons, but at least it was directionally correct. In my opinion, if something is broken you don’t change the idea behind the feature – you fix the problem.
With the new setting, it will be impossible to conduct a lot of tests within AdWords without working around the system. Testing is so important that Google should fix the problem and just launch a true ad rotate feature.
Search Partner Control
There was much rejoicing when Google finally allowed advertisers to control the display network by targeting placements and by blocking publishers. Those control settings were launched several years ago, so Google obviously knows how to control and block ad serving by site.
Why do these settings not appear for search partners?
I have some accounts where search partners outperform Google, and I’d love to spend more on them. I have other accounts where search partners are doing very poor. Now, I’m sure that what’s really happening is that some partners are performing well and others are performing poorly.
The problem is, I have to turn on or off all partners. If Google gave me more control over what partners my ads appear on; then overall, my search partner spend would increase.
Accurate Local Search Estimates
In local search, I don’t mean country – I mean a city, region, state, etc. The local search numbers are terrible. You can use the traffic estimator tool and estimate traffic at a metro level; however, I find that the numbers can be between 100%-1000% off. Yes, more than 1000% off is possible.
I was recently working with a company and the local estimates were showing about 0.1 clicks per day; in reality, the keyword receives more than 100 clicks/day. The difference of 3 clicks vs 3000 clicks a month is quite significant.
Normally the estimator is not this far off; but seeing the estimator 300-500% off is fairly common.
If Google really wants to support local businesses, they need to fix the estimates of how much traffic a local business can really receive through AdWords. These estimates just compound the problems that sales reps have in selling and support local businesses.
Detailed Relative Quality Score Numbers
Google recently started showing more information for the quality score; however, in many cases it makes no sense. You can have a keyword that is below average have a 10; you can have a keyword that is all average be a 4; or you could have a keyword that is slightly above average be a 4.
Part of the problem is that the ranges are: average, below average, above average. If average is 1, is 0.99999 below average? If so, then 0.99999 and 0.00001 have both the same message: below average. Showing a more detailed level of relativity would be useful.
Google doesn’t like to show numbers for quality score factors often, so even if the range were: Excellent, good, average, poor, terrible; and each of those was a defined range; then the relative quality score numbers would be useful.
I have many accounts where there are tens or hundreds of campaigns. For each campaign, I have to control the budget. In reality, I set the campaign budget to the most I want to spend on a campaign, but I often don’t care if one campaign goes over or under by 10%. What I do care about is the entire account budget.
This has been on my wishlist since 2002 when AdWords launched. For a while, I was using invoicing as an account level budget control as Google wouldn’t spend over the defined spend. It wasn’t ideal; but it was a workaround that worked. What advertisers really need is both a campaign and an account budget.
Ad Group Level Extensions
The idea behind extensions is a great one: append more information to a plain text ad and give consumers additional details or options about a business. Of course, extensions also help CTR so Google is reaping the benefits of more ad clicks.
However, extensions are only at the campaign level. This means that if you really want to control sitelinks, or you are advertising for several business locations, you end up with more campaigns than you want. And because there’s no an account budget, you end up in a budgeting mess trying to control overall budgets.
If Google just allowed ad group level extensions, this would all be fixed. They could even take some inspiration from adCenter and use the cascading rules. Allow an extension to be at the campaign level. If ad group also has extension, use the ad group extension. If the ad group does not have an extension, then use the campaign level one.
Google has been very innovative with their extensions; however, if they go a step further it would transfer a lot more control; and therefore better ads, to the advertisers.
Fix Google Analytics Integration
When I first tried to see AdWords data inside of Google Analytics, I was really excited. Finally, I could see interactive data that would help make decisions about keywords and placements. I was examining how I could trigger CPA bidding off of events. The list of possibilities was endless.
Until I realize the integration is often broken.
If the integration works (and it doesn’t always work); then you can usually only set AdWords conversion information off of the first goal in a group. While you can work around this by moving your goals around; the more concerning issue is the data.
Sometimes the analytics data matches the AdWords data closely. Other times, the data is completely different. When the data is different, then you lose faith in the system. The possibilities of being able to set bid rules based upon analytics data is endless. I’ve always thought the best bid managers would be part of your analytics data. However, that has not proven true over the years – and much of it is due to data integration.
Google, you own both AdWords and Google Analytics. Your ability to provide consistent data between the two sources should be something you could accomplish better than any 3rd party provider. Why are you not better at it?
I don’t want this to seem like Google bashing. Google has been fantastic over the past few years about launching features. The additions of extensions, display campaign optimizer, ACE, modified broad match, and more, have often lead to more advertiser control and options.
In some cases, such as modified broad match, they were fixing something they broke when broad match became expanded broad match.
In other cases, such as extensions, these were brand new features that helped advertisers accomplish marketing goals.
Google cannot stop innovating, but they do have a difficult balancing act between giving advertisers control versus maintaining an ecosystem where small advertisers can still do well.
However, if they would just launch (or fix) these features; advertisers would be happier with the inventory. Happy advertisers spend more money. So Google, are you ready to help us spend more money by launching some of these features?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.