8 Features Advertisers Really Need From Google AdWords

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.

Account Budget

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.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • melissa.rounds

    Great list that sums up a lot of my own wants as far as AdWords goes. Making some of the campaign-level settings – such as geo-targeting – available at the ad group level would also be on my wish list.

  • daniel breiner

    Great post – my one item to add would be the ability to track changes in QS over time

  • Cassim Zahid

     Good post Brad. I would personally like to set budgets at ad group level, this would make ad group impression share data more actionable and also allow more control over best performing ad groups.

  • http://twitter.com/tedives Ted Ives

    How about exposing the system-wide Click-through-Rate for each keyword like Adcenter does.

    Then you could sort your keywords by your CTR vs. the system-wide one and see what needs working on (at least, relative to everyone else).

  • Terry Whalen

    I would like this too – and one reason would be that it would expose the inconsistencies and anomalies that abound with QS data!

  • Terry Whalen

    Brad, great list! Here are some additional items and comments…
    Search Partner bidding — totally agreed – too many advertisers end up just turning SP off since the traffic quality is poor. I think adding an SP-only option might actually result in no net change in revenue for Google, since the advertisers that have turned this off would be able to turn it on again to try for incremental conversions.
    Filters – The biggest weakness of filters is on the ‘dimensions’ tab, where filter options include only metrics and exclude dimensions filter options. For example, the user cannot look at geo data for all non-brand campaigns. Also, filtered data should be presented at the top of the page, so that the user is not forced to scroll down the page to see the (yellow-shaded) filtered data.
    Segments – the gaping whole in segments is that there are no totals. This is especially maddening when the user wants to look at filtered trend data (e.g. non-brand campaigns by week).  Another way to put this – there is no ability to view account-level filtered trend data. Also, WoW trend data is presented only for weeks ending Sunday. If it’s Wednesday and you want to get the latest weekly trend data, you are out of luck.
    Dimensions tab – include a total row.
    ROAS bidding – this would be a great feature to add to conversion optimizer engine. But before this, maybe the Google folks could just meet us 10% of the way and add revenue and ROAS column options to AdWords Editor, for easier manual ROAS bid management.
    Totally agreed on ACE. AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) is actually kind of a cool testing framework, but the number one coolest thing the product folks could have done would be to include ACE functionality at the campaign level. Imagine how great that would be – test the AdWords Conversion Optimizer against manually bidding, for example. Or, test Marin bidding against SearchForce bidding, or SearchForce bidding against the Conversion Optimizer. It’d also be a great way to test various dayparting or geo strategies against each other. It’d even be useful for pitting 1 PPC manager against another.And, on the customer service side I wish that the Google sales force (er, account strategists and optimization specialists) could actually be knowledgeable and helpful when we ask specific questions of them. It’s not so much that I often need a sales pitch on why launching mobile-specific campaigns is a good idea – it’s more that if I happen to have an actual question, I never get a timely answer. The Google reps almost never know the answer, and they have to refer the question over to some other specialist group, and if I get an answer, I’ve usually already figured it out myself.One more – can’t resist – I wish the AdWords editorial team were…competent. And knew how to reply in a timely manner and fix problems that their silly automated ad approval system creates on a regular basis.

  • http://twitter.com/TechPad Matt Clarke

    The biggest drawback from a business point of view is, in my opinion, the lack of a profit metric. While GA’s Adwords integration supports ROI, conversion rates, revenue, ad cost and other metrics, it’s really how profitable campaigns are that matters. Isn’t it?

  • http://twitter.com/naomiki_s naomi s

    Great Post. 
    Regarding the account budget: You can set an automated rule to pause all campaigns once they reach a certain sum. This is not 100% accurate, but it works.
    As for GA and AdWords, I have an additional wish: If the currency of the AW account is different from GA’s, GA doesn’t make the conversions and all fiscal numbers look like they are in the same currency, so the data is not at all accurate. I wish they would make the conversion within the system without the need for me to develop a special profile or work with API.

  • David Rothwell

    Totally agree on profit – that is entirely what it’s all about.

    But profit is subjective – take 10 businesses all bidding on the same keyword and every one will have a different profitability.

    Even for just one business, that profit can also be variable.

  • http://www.boldinternet.co.uk/ Adrian Bold

    Excellent round-up. The search partner control has been a particular want of mine for many years. It certainly isn’t a case of turning all off. As you mention Brad, sometimes they perform really well. 

  • Herman Jooste

    I agree with everything in the post. My biggest problem is that Google’s CPC feature in the keyword tool is totally out. I work with a lot of local clients and how can you tell them how much to spend monthly if the cpc data is wrong.

    As a rule I use teared bidding and often get told my cpc is to low for the first page, then i use google’s ad preview tool low and behold im in the top 3 what gives.

    Don’t get me wrong i love what i do. And I think that google hits the bulls eye more often than not. So a big thank you from me for the great work

  • Terry Whalen

    Hi Ted, you might be interested in this: 
    http://adwords.blogspot.com/2012/05/make-smarter-decisions-with-new-auction.html. Additional keyword-level data about system-wide CTRs and your ad rank relative to other advertisers bidding on similar groups of keywords.

  • Terry Whalen

    Calculated fields would go a long way towards enabling profit metrics for the majority of advertisers. For now, we at least do have revenue (total value) and revenue/cost columns.

  • http://twitter.com/PPCPROZ Dan Perach

    great post Brad. Thanks Naomi for that budget tip. I’d much prefer to have a fourth match type for modified broad match, as it is quite laborious adding all those +’s to kws

  • m4rcela

    also, it would be great to have all features working with AdWords Editor


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